820 billion worldwide people go to bed hungry every night. That is 10 per cent of the world’s population. We have large numbers of people without adequate food, but also 2 billion people who suffer from obesity and malnutrition. Also economically the food system does not deliver as the vast majority of farmers and agricultural workers have to survive on less than one dollar a day. On top of that, our food system is responsible for 30 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions and 70 per cent of freshwater use. The specific problems differ greatly between areas, but they share one common denominator: the food system is not in balance.
To date, many research projects have focused on a single issue, such as climate adaptation or mitigation, healthy diets, a better income for farmers or improving soil or water quality, says Ivo Demmers, the leader of the KB programme Food and Water Security. “Researchers in this programme work on all the key issues at the same time. They use the food systems approach, a holistic methodology, by taking into account four aspects of the food system: food production, healthy diets, equitable distribution and sustainability.”
In this chapter two projects are highlighted to illustrate the important work of the KB-programme Food Security and Valuing Water.
Deltas are under pressure
Ivo Demmers: “At first the challenge in this project was to deal with the consequences of climate change in a densely populated delta in Vietnam. But adapting to climate change meant a huge change in agriculture. An agricultural transition was needed. By applying a holistic food systems perspective, so much more can be improved. This food systems approach led us to zoom in.”
Fish enriches life in Kenya slum
Ivo Demmers: “In Kibera, the largest slum in Kenya, people suffer from a shortage of animal proteins. We found a solution by using a regional spatial approach; we helped to improve the current food system to meet the needs of slum dwellers and simultaneously boost the income of Kenyan fish farmers. The food systems approach is about making connections at different levels.”
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