right to food
Right to food is the irreducible minimum degree of freedom from hunger a person requires to live a dignified and productive life. This implies that public authorities should deploy all policy in this direction, for every person to enjoy his or her fundamental right to food.
National Campaign on Right to Food
In practical terms, hunger presents in terms of adult undernourishment, child stunting, child wasting in and child mortality. In these parameters, Nigeria scores low on all the four indicators of the World Hunger Index (WHI), the composite value of which for Nigeria in 2017 is 25.5 on a scale of 100, where 0 is the best score (no hunger) and 100 is the worst (all hungry); ranking 84th among 119 countries studied by IFPRI. This implies that more than three quarters of Nigeria’s population (about 150 million people) suffer from different forms of hunger - malnutrition, child wasting, child stunting and child mortality, thereby belonging to the serious hunger prevalence category among other countries of the world, next only to Yemen in that category. Therefore the danger of humanitarian crisis looms large on the people of Nigeria in the short run unless the trend is quickly checked.
In doing so, the viewpoint of FIF is that, even though technology matters, policy matters the more for the transformation of Nigeria’s agriculture to make food available and accessible to the teeming population in adequate quantity and quality.
The National Campaign on Right to Food is the flagship project of FIF launched in 2008 to stem the trend of hunger in Nigeria and to hold government accountable for policy failures that deny the people their fundamental right to food. The Campaign is anchored on the philosophical premise that food is more of a human right than a mere human need; hence the need for paradigm shift, including policy and practice change, from the traditional notion of food as a mere human need to the contemporary notion of food as a fundamental human right.
Towards this end, FIF has introduced a Bill at the National Assembly for amendment of relevant sections of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria, with a view to making right to food actionable, justiciable and ultimately remediable by law.
The Right to Food Bill
The goal of the Right to Food Bill is to hold government accountable for perennial failure of its policies to meet the food entitlements of the people; not to ask government to provide food for everybody free of cost.
The Bill was first introduced at the National Assembly during the Sixth Assembly (2010) for the amendment of Chapter 2 of the 1999 constitution (Directive Principles of State Policy) by the House of Representatives, for the recognition of food security within the context of right, not just need. During the Seventh Assembly (2012) FIF introduced another Bill at the Senate, for the amendment of Chapter 4 of the constitution (Fundamental Human Rights), for insertion of right to food among other rights to be guaranteed and made justiciable. During the eighth Assembly both Bills have been consolidated into one concurrently introduced at the two chambers of National Assembly, which has now passed the Second Reading stage in the House of Representatives and also at committee stage in the Senate.
Obligation of right holders
In a regime of right to food the people are the right holders. The people except the vulnerable members of society and others in protracted suffering have the responsibility to work in order to enjoy their individual and collective right to food. i.e. Government assistance in terms of food provision is not required for the vast majority of the population but only for a few in special conditions or circumstances.
Obligation as duty bearers
In a regime of right to food the government are the right holders, which have the following obligations to honour.
Obligation to respect the right of people to food: This stipulates the limits of state's exercise of power, which includes refraining from destroying people's access to food through unfavourable public policies. That is, the government owes the people an obligation to implement systems that do not offend or violate the right to food.
Obligation to protect the right of people to food: This entails the regulation of activities of non-state actors that are inimical to people's food entitlements (e.g. environmental pollution that destroy the capacity of farers to grow crops; water pollution that destroys the capacity of water bodies to produce fish; etc.)
Obligation to fulfil the right of people to food: This involves the provision of food assistance to vulnerable groups and other people in protracted suffering.
Role of FIF
We stand in the guard to influence lawmakers and policy makers to pass good laws and implement appropriate policies for the people to enjoy their natural right to food; and also engage with the political authorities, development community and the general public to generate a demand pressure on public authorities for right of individual to food to be actualized in the country.
Together we can make food a right in Nigeria. In supporting this course, please sign the petition below and feel free to contact us for your support.