‘What does ‘access’ to food mean? What is ‘food security?’
Being able to access food is the key component of food security. Food needs to be available and people need enough money to purchase food, thus providing a climate of accessibility.
The United Nation Food and Agricultural Organization define food security as existing ‘when all people, at all times, have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy lifestyle.’
The reasons why almost one billion people don't get enough food to eat are complex and inter-related.
A major reason for food shortages in poor communities is crop failure due to drought, floods and other abnormal weather events. When crops fail, poor rural communities who have no other resources to pay for food go hungry.
Another major cause is conflict. Wars destroy farms and fields, kill farmers and displace millions of people around the world. This means less food is produced and families who flee and become refugees lose their incomes and livelihoods.
In regions like southern Africa, food production is being affected by the HIV and AIDS pandemic, which has left many farmers sick and unable to grow food.
In 2008, the world experienced a food crisis that forced around 100 million people into extreme poverty (living on less than US$1.25 a day). Prices of the staple grains – rice, wheat and maize (corn) – peaked on international markets in about the middle of 2008, and by the end of that year were down 45-50%. Oil prices, another driver of the food crisis, had also fallen by 70%. The crisis looked to be over.
Yet as the world begins to recover from the “other crisis” – the global financial one – it became increasingly clear that the food crisis had merely gone into hibernation. Many of the causes of the first crisis were still around, and the strengthening world economy has brought them back to centre stage.
In early 2011, world food prices surged to an historical peak, overshadowing the Global Food Crisis of 2007/8. “Pressure on world food prices is not abating” and “high prices are likely to persist in the months to come,” according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.