It’s no secret that the global refugee and displacement crisis is one of the most pressing issues of our time. War has displaced nearly 90 million people from their homes. As a result, many refugees are struggling to find food and proper nutrition.
In this blog post, we’ll explore some ways that we can improve food security for refugees and displaced people.
Main challenges to food security for refugees and displaced people
There are many challenges that face refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) when it comes to accessing sufficient, nutritious and safe food. Refugees and IDPs often have little or no money, which makes it difficult to buy food. In many cases, refugees and IDPs are not able to farm or garden because they do not have land or because the land they are on is not arable. Furthermore, this can make it difficult to bring food into camps or hard-to-reach areas. It can also make it difficult for people to travel to markets to buy food. Tragically, violence can make it dangerous for people to leave their homes to look for food or work, and can damage or destroy crops, farmland and other food sources. Finally, droughts, floods, and other extreme weather events can damage crops and lead to food shortages.
How to improve food security for refugees and displaced people
There are a number of ways to improve food security for refugees and IDPs.
Increasing access to food assistance by providing cash or vouchers, which give people the flexibility to buy the food they need. It can also be done by improving the distribution of food aid, for example by using mobile technologies to reach people in hard-to-reach areas.
Improving access to land and water by providing land for gardening or farming, or by drilling boreholes to provide water for irrigation.
Supporting livelihoods by providing training and resources to help people start small businesses or find employment. Another approach is to create ‘cash-for-work’ programmes. These give people the opportunity to earn money while also doing work that benefits the community, such as cleaning up camps or planting trees.
Building peace: Peace building initiatives can help reduce conflict and make it safer for people to leave their homes to look for food or work.
Improving infrastructure and transportation: This can make it easier to bring food into camps or hard-to-reach areas. It can also make it easier for people to travel to markets to buy food.
Successful examples of improving food security for refugees and displaced people
A number of initiatives have been successful in improving food security for refugees and IDPs. For example, the World Food Programme’s e-voucher system has provided food assistance to refugees in a number of countries, including Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) Cash-Based Interventions has supported livelihoods and improved access to food in a number of countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan. The International Committee of the Red Cross’ (ICRC) water projects have provided clean water to IDPs in a number of countries, including Iraq and Syria. Additionally, The Norwegian Refugee Council’s (NRC) peace building initiatives have helped reduce conflict and improve food security in a number of countries, including Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.
What more needs to be done to improve food security for refugees and displaced people
Despite the success of some initiatives, there is still more that needs to be done to improve food security for refugees and IDPs. This includes:
Increasing funding: More resources are needed to scale up existing programmes and to develop new initiatives.
Improving data collection: Better data is needed on the extent of food insecurity among refugees and IDPs, and on what works to address it.
Addressing underlying causes of conflict: More peacebuilding initiatives are needed to address the root causes of conflict, and to make it safer for people to leave their homes in search of food or work.
Supporting local economies: More needs to be done to support local economies, for example by buying food from local producers.
Food security is a major issue for refugees and IDPs. Fortunately, there are a number of things that can be done to improve food security, but more needs to be done. We can all help to improve food security by supporting organisations that are working on the issue, and by taking action in our own communities. By educating ourselves and others about the issue of food insecurity, we can help to create a world in which everyone has enough to eat.