Each country’s plan of action to address the UN Sustainable Development Goals changes according to their particular situation. As a result, different approaches can be seen around the globe. The goals aren’t listed in consecutive order and it’s a nations choice which one to target first. Nonetheless, depending on each country’s circumstances, there are certain humanitarian priorities that can influence in making some specific development goals more urgent than other ones. Once basic needs are fulfilled, or on the way to be, there’s always more space to act.
After decades of steady decline, hunger began to slowly increase again in 2015. Current estimates show that nearly 690 million people are hungry (8,9% of the world population), rising by 10 million people in one year and by nearly 60 million in five years. Furthermore, the recent Covid-19 pandemic is making things worse by putting an additional 130 million people at risk of suffering acute hunger by the end of 2020.
The case of Argentina
Argentina has a population of 45 million 3 , with an estimated of 15,9 million people living in poverty without proper access to food. 4 This number sounds ironic knowing that the country produces food for over 400 million people, which is largely exported. The amount of people deprived from food is increasing and the pandemic has also accelerated this increase. Currently, Buenos Aires’ population is 2.89 million people, where 1,343,000 suffer some kind of dietary deficiency and 204,000 experience acute hunger.
In order to tackle this growing tendency, the city counts with a public program called “Programa de Ciudadanía Porteña” (Program of Buenos Aires Citizenship) which is complemented by three other programs including “Red de Primeros Meses” (Starting Months), “Estudiar es Trabajar” (Studying is Working) and “Programa Ticket Social” (Program of Social Ticket). The main program consists in giving families with under-age kids in deprived situations an income in order to cope with their minimum necessities. The complementing ones are designed to tackle specific situations/needs along the way, such as helping pregnant women and recent mothers with special aid, paying a salary to adults who attend school and proving extra help to families who have recently started receiving the subsidy.
What’s interesting about the program’s design is its selection process. When allocating the help, families with kids have the highest chances of getting chosen, since under-age population is prioritized. This shows the city’s clear intention to attend the needs of the younger population, in order to protect the most vulnerable ones, while advocating for their future as well. In terms of how the aid is provided, the beneficiaries are granted with a debit card, which is monthly accredited with money and its use is restricted to
In addition to these mechanisms, Buenos Aires has developed a network of communal meal-kitchens where breakfast, lunch and afternoon-tea are offered to attendants. This type of help has tripled since the pandemic started, reaching 353,000 people at the moment. As far as I am concerned, ensuring youth with a proper diet is not only the most genuine way of tackling zero hunger, but it also means proving them with the best possibilities available in order to make the most out of a quality education and good health and wellbeing (in line with SDGs’ 3 & 4).
Finally, another interesting fact regarding how the city is articulating the solution to its hunger problem is the involvement of food producers. As said before, Argentina’s problem isn’t about producing food, but keeping that food in the local market. In that direction, both at a national and a provincial level, the aforementioned programs have strict contact with small and medium producers. The idea is to help these farmers and land-workers increase their production, allowing them to maximize profit while filling the market with affordable foods. This approach not only generates better food options for people in need, but also strengthens producers’ economic situation. Again, by working towards a specific SDG -Zero Hunger- another goal is addressed -Decent Work and Economic Growth-.
Ensuring global food security
Developing countries find it harder to cope with evolving necessities, and even more in current pandemic times. This results in a need for best possible allocation of goods in order to maximize their use. In that sense, the way my home-city is articulating these double-effect policies is great as it addresses different key issues at the same time.
Hunger is a serious problem and real changes need to be implemented soon or severe consequences will be experienced. In order to achieve a sustainable future, ensuring global food security for all citizens is a must. For that to happen, we need to deal with food in more efficient ways, improving food-production systems, current supply-chains and people’s attitude towards food consumption as well.
Writing by Nicolás Riegl