Making vulnerable communities voices heard
From the work with the vulnerable communities (many more requests from other communities to facilitate / link their RtF struggle – however due to limited capacity/ resources and time taking process for transfer/take-up/strengthening capacity of local orgs on the RtF methodology) its challenging to make the voices of many more affected communities known and heard. FIAN Nepal feels different strategies for advocacy, empowerment and engagement (maintaining momentum) has to be explored. Often the communities are in real need of immediate relief / support (emotional / economic /health and food etc.) which, the project nor other organisations can address. The approach of organising, empowering and leading their struggle though viewed as more sustainable – raises the issue of modality and poses the dilemma of “motivating and empowerment in “an empty stomach”. As such working in collaboration with local organisations and government /line agencies from the start of intervention is a must – not only to access the sources and resources but transfer of related technical know-how (e.g. agriculture inputs). Informing and collaborating with government stakeholders about the situation of the affected communities is essential for local /national level actions to address the RtF violations.
Since its adoption in 1999, the General Comment 12 of the Article 11 of International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, became a key reference to monitor this right. Furthermore, the approval by the 187 States of the FAO´s Voluntary Guidelines (Nov 2004) to promote the progressive realisation of the Right to Adequate Food in the context of National Food Security, provided even more detailed criteria to monitor state compliance with right to food standards.
Experiences in other countries have revealed that combined with comprehensive advocacy work, internal and external monitoring and assessment can be an essential tool for the effective realization of the right to food since it allows to check current policy measures of the state and responsible ministries and to accordingly elaborate proposals for change in the concerned policies. Furthermore, monitoring is one of the most convincing means to encourage civil society to systematically advocate for thes the right to adequate food in their daily work. In addition, the FAO RtF Guidelines provide an excellent oppportunity to assess ex ante planned programmes of the Government, NGOs, and INGOs and design them according to obligations under the right to food.
Advocacy and Monitoring of the RtF is to focus on but limit to the following issues:
The government’s efforts to address the food insecurity situation have been insufficient, and the country lack food and nutrition security policy and plan. Political decisions have often ignored to take into account the obligations of States and Intergovernmental Organisations towards Human Rights.
There is a need to adequately advocate for and monitor RtF related issues/violations and policy / programmes e.g. bi-lateral agreement Nepal has with other government. Monitoring of RtF violations and policy advocacy has to be strengthened as to support the affected communities’ struggle for their RtF. RtF advocacy and monitoring at district level involving dealings with quasi-judicial bodies can better monitor and ‘resolve” RtF violations at local level. RtF Network members have to be made clear on the RtF – as the current food security concept and approach is predominant. Engaging district and/regional level media for highlighting RtF related issues /violations has been more constructive and hence adopt this strategy further in upcoming phase. Using existing human rights complaint mechanisms national (NHRC) and international – including intergovernmental agencies (FAO, IFAD, WFP) have to be used strategically to highlight that they give priority to address food insecurity from a human right to food perspective and remedial mechanisms along with plans and programmes to reduce the RtF violations.
Making use of related ESCR and other Human rights, building /developing alliances and networks or taking active part in various issue based campaigns related to the RtF e.g. land rights, minimum wage, women and children’s access to nutritious food, access to and control over productive resources for a livelihood of marginalised groups – investment in agriculture etc is needed to put and connect the RtF to into limelight.
Poor political will of the government, unstable political situation, reducing investment in agriculture and agri-based livelihood options for rural poor populations, nominal adaptation actions to climate change again for the small holder farmers, and limited response mechanisms of government of globalisation – price, fuel, agri-input (in particular loss of indigenous seed to hybrid variant, control over water resources by other countries than Nepal, heavily reliant on remittances from migrant workers however limited rights, which leads to low priority on reducing hunger /malnutrition of rural and urban poor in the country. Strong monitoring processes at national level is necessary to ascertain state’s compliance and non-compliance with its obligations under the RtF. National reports on the right to adequate food submitted to relevant UN Bodies have proved to be successful in terms of strengthening awareness for the right to food in line with international standards and put pressure on states’ performance.
The unstable political environment and poorly functioning government has severely constrained both advocacy and monitoring of rights including the RtF – thus multiple strategies have to be adopted.
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