Right to Food Denied by Poor Policies and Inaction

By Busani Bafana
MILAN, Italy, Dec 3 2019 (IPS)

Global food systems are ripe for transformation if people are to
be nourished and the planet sustainable, says Hilal Elver, Special
Rapporteur of the Right to Food of the United Nations Human Rights

Hilal Elver, Special Rapporteur of the Right to Food of the
United Nations Human Rights Council speaking at the 10th
International Forum on Food and Nutrition convened in Milan.
Credit: Busani Bafana / IPS

Elver, told delegates at the 1oth International Forum on Food
and Nutrition convened in Milan by the Barilla Centre, that the
world needs food citizens who will act responsibly in promoting
food equality and reducing food waste, which underlie global food
and nutrition insecurity in the world today.

Food citizens are responsible for protecting the right to food
through multi-actor actions including promoting a conducive
environment that will secure food for all while promoting dialogue
around food access, production and equitable distribution.

Citing the situation in Zimbabwe, Elver said the food crisis was
a blot on the right to food that the world must respond to with

“The situation in Zimbabwe in mind boggling,” said Elver who
has just returned from a mission to Zimbabwe to access the
situation. “We need to know what is going as we talk about the
need to diet, many in Zimbabwe eat once a day if they are lucky and
food aid basically maize, just one meal a day. .. This is a very
serious issue that we do not know it beyond the sustainable.”

Elver spoke with IPS on her mission to Zimbabwe. Excerpts of the

IPS: You have just come back from Zimbabwe, what did you

Zimbabwe is an amazing country but if it facing a lot of
challenges. It does not have basic public services and only four
hours a day electricity and I understand that and government
buildings, companies and some restaurants are using generators. But
also you need fuel for the generators and for your car – if you
have money to buy gas (fuel). The system is collapsing. People do
not have time to work, because they either have to wait for gas for
hours and hours and have to wait in front of the banks to get cash
and 24 hours and transportation is very expensive. It is a vicious
cycle and something should give in internally and externally
because this has affected the food situation in the country

What has these challenges mean for the right to

That is a major problem. The root causes are a man-made journey
to starvation. Every person in Zimbabwe has a responsibility to
act. It did not come from drought. Yes drought is there. Other
countries had a drought. Zambia had a drought, Mozambique had a
drought and Cyclone Idai but Mozambique had huge aid from outside
and Zimbabwe only got ten percent of it because of the

What has been the impact of sanction on food

The intentional community should consider lifting the sanction
because sanctions in the 20 years have had multiple impacts on the
ordinary people’s lives. They talk about the targeted sanction
but the sanctions are targeted by US, UK and EU, they are living
perfectly fine and they do not travel a lot outside as they are
high level government officials. It is okay for them but for the
ordinary people it is not. They are suffering because all the
international aid is blocked in one way or another. Investment is
not coming. No one wants to invest in a country under

Ask the IMF or World Bank why they cannot give the money to
them. All the money they try to help Zimbabwe with goes to the NGOs
and international organisations. If you are given $100 million, the
people on the ground only get 20 percent of it. This is bad and
this must change.

Is lifting sanctions everything to get Zimbabwe out of
its challenges?

That is an important question. The government should make some
democratic reforms, the freedom of speech, and freedom of
association and give the opportunities to the people because the
people are peaceful. The first thing is that the government should
sit together with the opposition and all parties in a democratic
manner and to think about how they can help their people

Land reform has been done in the last 20 years gradually here
and there and there has been some kind of complaints as to why
white farmers need compensation and black farmers are
dysfunctional, these are myths going round. Black farmers are
dysfunctional because they did not get any help from the
government. You need first of all credit and you need technical
help and you need seed and the government is in a terrible shape to
give all these things. Of course there is disfunctionality but they
cannot access resources there is land but they cannot do anything
with it. If people find one square metres of land they just produce
on it. The main problem is this corn based reliance. People are so
obsessed with sadza, who brought maize to Zimbabwe? We should think
about that.

Are you saying food diversification is a solution to the
food problem?

Of course. The traditional food in Africa is very much good for
the environmental conditions. Traditional small grains do to need
too much water like maize and they should go back to this.

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Right to Food Denied by Poor Policies and Inaction
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Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Right to Food Denied by Poor Policies and Inaction