What is food security?
"Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control" (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948)
Food was declared a human right in 1948 and many detailed definitions of food security have thus emerged. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) (2009) defines food and nutrition security as “when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”.
The FAO (2009) identified four dimensions of food and nutrition security:
As the figure above demonstrates, food and nutrition security is interrelated
- Availability: enough food has to be produced and adequately distributed from the aggregate level to the individual level to guarantee widespread access to food.
- Access: access to food refers not only to the physical availability of the food in the market, but also economic access, that is, whether households have the necessary means to provide enough nutritional food to every household member.
- Utilization: refers to the quality (and quantity) of food that people consume. Food has to be properly prepared and cooked to ensure a sufficient caloric and nutritional intake as well as minimal disease probability, considering also cultural preferences.
- Stability: stabilization is depicted under the production area of the diagram. It influences the other three dimensions at all times and it can be transitory, seasonal or chronic. Natural hazards such as flooding can ruin harvests and civil conflicts might destroy transportation networks and cause lack of access to food. Furthermore, market instabilities and subsequent price fluctuations directly affect households’ budgets and consumption decisions.
Further relevant information about food security can be found at: