Food Security & Nutrition

Food Security & Nutrition

The importance of food security and nutrition in disasters

Access to food and the maintenance of an adequate nutritional status are critical determinants of people’s survival in a disaster. The people affected are often already chronically undernourished when the disaster hits. Undernutrition is a serious public health problem and among the lead causes of death, whether directly or indirectly.

The causes of undernutrition are complex. The conceptual framework below is an analytical tool that shows the interaction between contributing factors to undernutrition. The immediate causes of undernutrition are disease and/or inadequate food intake, which result from underlying poverty, household food insecurity, inadequate care practices at household or community levels, poor water, hygiene and sanitation, and insufficient access to healthcare. Disasters such as cyclones, earthquakes, floods, conflict and drought all directly affect the underlying causes of undernutrition. The vulnerability of a household or community determines its ability to cope with exposure to these shocks. The ability to manage the associated risks is determined largely by the characteristics of a household or community, particularly its assets and the coping and livelihood strategies it pursues.

For this chapter the following definitions are used:

Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. Within this definition of food security, there are three components:

Availability refers to the quantity, quality and seasonality of the food supply in the disaster-affected area. It includes local sources of production (agriculture, livestock, fisheries, wild foods) and foods imported by traders (government and agencies’ interventions can affect availability). Local markets able to deliver food to people are major determinants of availability.

Access refers to the capacity of a household to safely procure sufficient food to satisfy the nutritional needs of all its members. It measures the household’s ability to acquire available food through a combination of home production and stocks, purchases, barter, gifts, borrowing or food, cash and/or voucher transfers.

Utilisation refers to a household’s use of the food to which it has access, including storage, processing and preparation, and distribution within the household. It is also an individual’s ability to absorb and metabolise nutrients, which can be affected by disease and malnutrition.

Livelihoods comprise the capabilities, assets (including natural, material and social resources) and activities used by a household for survival and future well-being. Livelihood strategies are the practical means or activities through which people use their assets to earn income and achieve other livelihood goals. Coping strategies are defined as temporary responses forced by food insecurity. A household’s livelihood is secure when it can cope with and recover from shocks, and maintain or enhance its capabilities and productive assets.

Nutrition is a broad term referring to processes involved in eating, digestion and utilisation of food by the body for growth and development, reproduction, physical activity and maintenance of health. The term ‘malnutrition’ technically includes undernutrition and over-nutrition. Undernutrition encompasses a range of conditions, including acute malnutrition, chronic malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies. Acute malnutrition refers to wasting (thinness) and/or nutritional oedema, while chronic malnutrition refers to stunting (shortness). Stunting and wasting are two forms of growth failure. In this chapter, we refer to undernutrition and revert to malnutrition specifically for acute malnutrition.

The framework shows that exposure to risk is determined by the frequency and severity of natural and man-made shocks and by their socio-economic and geographical scope. The determinants of coping capacity include the levels of a household’s financial, human, physical, social, natural and political assets; the levels of its production, income and consumption; and its ability to diversify its income sources and consumption to mitigate the effects of the risks.

The vulnerability of infants and young children means that addressing their nutrition should be a priority. Prevention of undernutrition is as important as treatment of acute malnutrition. Food security interventions may determine nutrition and health in the short term and their survival and well-being in the long term.

Women often play a greater role in planning and preparation of food for their households. Following a disaster, household livelihood strategies may change. Recognising distinct roles in family nutrition is key to improving food security at the household level. Understanding the unique nutritional needs of pregnant and lactating women, young children, older people and persons with disabilities is also important in developing appropriate food responses.

Better food security and nutrition disaster response is achieved through better preparedness. It is the capacities, relationships and knowledge developed by governments, humanitarian agencies, local civil society organisations, communities and individuals to anticipate and respond effectively to the impact of likely, imminent or current hazards. Preparedness is based on an analysis of risks and is well linked to early warning systems. It includes contingency planning, stockpiling of equipment and supplies, emergency services and stand-by arrangements, communications, information management and coordination arrangements, personnel training and community-level planning, drills and exercises.

The main areas of intervention for food security and nutrition in disasters covered in this Handbook are infant and young child feeding; the management of acute malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies; food transfers; cash and voucher transfers; and livelihoods.

Food State Nutrition:

Clarion Call Global is working with DR ERIC LWELLYN, a noted expert on NUTRITION & HOLISTIC HEALTH. Dr. Llewellyn has also studied the crucial role of soil vitality in health and nutrition.

DR. LWELLYN has made pioneering contributions to nutrition through what he calls “RE-NATURED” NUTRIENTS, which are distinguished from isolated chemicals such as vitamins and minerals.  According to Dr. Llewellyn, nutrients are complexes of vitamins or minerals and associated food factors.  Without the delivering mechanism of food factors, what is believed to be nutrition merely consists of pure, isolated chemicals in their free state.  This is FOOD STATE NUTRITION.

Utilisation refers to a household’s use of the food to which it has access, including storage, processing and preparation, and distribution within the household. It is also an individual’s ability to absorb and metabolise nutrients, which can be affected by disease and malnutrition.

Livelihoods comprise the capabilities, assets (including natural, material and social resources) and activities used by a household for survival and future well-being. Livelihood strategies are the practical means or activities through which people use their assets to earn income and achieve other livelihood goals. Coping strategies are defined as temporary responses forced by food insecurity. A household’s livelihood is secure when it can cope with and recover from shocks, and maintain or enhance its capabilities and productive assets.

Nutrition is a broad term referring to processes involved in eating, digestion and utilisation of food by the body for growth and development, reproduction, physical activity and maintenance of health. The term ‘malnutrition’ technically includes undernutrition and over-nutrition. Undernutrition encompasses a range of conditions, including acute malnutrition, chronic malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies. Acute malnutrition refers to wasting (thinness) and/or nutritional oedema, while chronic malnutrition refers to stunting (shortness). Stunting and wasting are two forms of growth failure. In this chapter, we refer to undernutrition and revert to malnutrition specifically for acute malnutrition.

The framework shows that exposure to risk is determined by the frequency and severity of natural and man-made shocks and by their socio-economic and geographical scope. The determinants of coping capacity include the levels of a household’s financial, human, physical, social, natural and political assets; the levels of its production, income and consumption; and its ability to diversify its income sources and consumption to mitigate the effects of the risks.

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