Despite the global commitment to eradicating hunger in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and many decades of agricultural and food security research, policy development and implementation, the absolute number of undernourished people in the world continues to rise. Over 70% of the world’s poor and hungry live in rural settings and depend directly on agriculture, with 2.1 billion of them living on less than U$ 2 per day. About one billion people are hungry, two billion suffer from hidden hunger (micronutrient deficiencies) while the same number is overweight or obese and at risk of chronic diet related diseases.
The natural resources on which smallholder farmers depend are threatened by conflict, poverty, population pressure and climate change, particularly in the more marginal areas. Although it has often been said that smallholders cannot withstand these threats and will disappear, they have proved to be remarkably resilient, and have continued to make an important contribution to ensuring global food security. A greater focus on promoting sustainable smallholder farming is needed to meet current food security and agricultural production challenges, recognising the socio-economic and agro-ecological conditions under which they live. To achieve nutrition security these efforts should be nutrition sensitive and need to be combined and integrated with cross-sectoral efforts at various levels.
Our ambitions and goals
ETC’s engagement in the Global South is based on a vision of a world where the communities of poor and marginalised people dependent on natural resources such as water, forests, land and livestock become resilient. Our ambition is to develop resilient (sustainable, fair, flexible and inclusive) food systems in which sustainable production and nutritious diets are naturally linked, supported by multiple linkages between cities and country side. Since its beginnings in the early 1980s, ETC’s hallmarks have been participatory and inclusive approaches, ecologically sound low-external-input technologies, transparent and accountable governance systems, working with local and indigenous knowledge, innovative funding mechanisms and collaboration of multiple stakeholders.
ETC has been a frontrunner in developing methodologies, building competencies, setting up resource centres and managing international networks in thematic areas such as low-external-input and sustainable agriculture, urban agriculture and food security, endogenous development and protection of biological and cultural diversity, local innovation and climate change adaptation, building adaptive capacity and resilience, pastoral livelihood development etc. Important elements in our work are participatory approaches based on local strengths, capacity building, ecologically sound technologies and active recognition that women and men are to be considered equal partners. We give special attention to the sustainability of programmes and their impact on the environment.
Since 2012 ETC has adopted nutrition as a new focus area naturally building on and strengthening ETCs efforts in the agriculture and health domains. We see inclusion of nutrition security as a natural extension of food security programmes. To achieve food and nutrition security we focus on the first 1,000 days, the window of opportunity that can make all the difference for healthy growth and development of populations – as opposed to inter-generational malnutrition and poverty. By now ETC’s track record includes evaluations of complex nutrition security programmes. Health is an important determinant of nutrition: we continue to contribute to equitable and high-quality public health services in low and middle income countries. We focus on Performance Based Financing, Impact Evaluation in SRHR and health sector performance. We offer short and medium term consultancy services to governments, NGOs and the private sector. We combine technical advice with interventions aimed at strengthening the local capacities of our clients and currently explore how our expertise in Results Based Financing can accelerate nutrition programming. In all these endeavours our aim is to identify and demonstrate practical examples which contribute to generic models of success.