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Climate Change, Hunger and

Food Security
Reela Khalifa
Ethnically from
Global climate change has widespread effects on environmental, social, and economic
Sudan, Reela is
issues. Understanding what makes and keeps people vulnerable and what contributes
currently a first year
to their resilience remains at the core towards achieving sustainability. Climate
master’s student at
changes, economic development, as well as other factors, are contributing to patterns
the Division of
that intensify, accumulate and compound risk of societal failure. As different risks
Global Affairs,
become more interdependent, this creates a much more complex and challenging envi-
ronment for development agencies. Food security, for instance, in many countries is
University. She has
under great threat as a result of drought, changes in rainfall, and also more frequent
obtained her
extreme weather patterns. Through risk assessment, governments can establish strong
Bachelor’s Degree
areas of possible growth and development thereby improving their economies, in-
in International
creasing foreign investments, and adjusting themselves for improved adaptation and
Studies from Ewha
mitigation methods when dealing with climate changes and impacts on hunger and
food security.
University, Seoul.
The United Nations define food security as "people having at all times, physi-
South Korea. Her
cal, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets
academic interests
their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life." The common
include human
definition of food security is built on three pillars: mainly in the (1) availability of
rights and
food (through the market and through state’s production); (2) adequate purchasing
development and
and/or relational power to acquire or access food; (3) the stability of sufficient nutri-
international peace
ents from the available food, which is influenced by the ability to digest and absorb
and security.
nutrients necessary for human health, access to safe drinking water, environmental
hygiene and the nutritional content of the food itself. The overall impact of climate
change on food security will differ across regions based on the socio-economic status
of that country.

190 University Ave, Suite 219 Newark, New Jersey 07102

Tel (973) 353-5416 Fax (973) 353-5074
Climate Change & Food Security
There are 1.02 billion undernourished people in the world today and a significant portion does
not get enough food to be healthy and lead an active life. Hunger and malnutrition are in fact
the number one risk to the health worldwide — greater than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis
combined. Climate change affects all four dimensions of food security, namely food availabil-
ity (i.e., production and trade), access to food, stability of food supplies, and food utilization.
Data Needs & Structures

The following brief aims to shed light on common methodologies used to assess the risks of
global climate change and its impact on food security. Global networks including governments,
United Nation agencies such as the World Food Program and the Food & Agriculture Organiza-
tion, as well as, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are fundamental actors in ad-
dressing these risks.
Food security is affected by many factors such as the absence of good governance, in-
adequate poverty, education, war and civil strife, poor health, natural disasters, and unstable
environments unable to sustain economic development. Through risk assessment, indicators of
sustainability are established based on elements of economy, health and nutrition, education,
infrastructure, governance, demography, agriculture, energy and technology. In relation to food
security, the definition of poverty in itself is an important factor to sustainability, in that it in-
cludes deprivation of health care, lack of sanitation, exclusion from education, and other basic
human rights. It is undeniable that the poor and marginalized around the world face difficulties
in finding safe drinking water, sanitation and adequate food, all of which affect human security.
With this reality, the international community must pull together to ensure the sustain-
ability of life on Earth. Thus, through international organizations, such as the United Nations,
the global community recognizes that sustainable development means eradicating poverty and
improving life for all, which is first goal of the UN Millennium Goals.
Food security is a multi-dimensional problem that needs intervention in inter-related ar-
eas including health, markets, learning and emergency preparedness and early intervention.
The global community and national governments need to implement effective policies and
strategies which include situation analysis, strategy formulation, resource mobilization, imple-
mentation, and monitoring and accountability. Thus, the determination to succeed depends on
political will and global collaboration.


Climate Change & Food Security
Risk Assessment

To illustrate how we can apply these ideas to food security, the following lays out the steps that
we would follow in conducting risk assessment on this topic.


Climate Change & Food Security

Critical Questions
 Who is vulnerable to food security?
 How many are they?
 Where do they live?
 Why are they vulnerable?
 How is the situation likely to evolve?
 What are the risks threatening them?
 What should be done to save their lives and livelihoods?
 Example of common framework for risk assessment


 Advanced technologies used include Geographical Information Systems

(GIS, innovative satellite applications) and Personal Digital Assistants
(PDAs) to collect, manage and analyze data.
 Food Security Analysis referred to as VAM (Vulnerability Analysis and
 Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis, (CFSVA) (in col-
laboration with FAO)provides an extensive food security situation during
 CFSVA analyzes information on
 food consumption patterns
 education
 nutrition
 markets
 livelihoods, particularly food insecurity
 risk analysis, vulnerabilities, and underlying causes


Climate Change & Food Security

Methods and tools for assessing climate change impacts for different time periods and at various scales.


Climate Change & Food Security

Common Methods & Analytics

Emergency Food Security Assessment (EFSA) Following a disaster or shock, provides in-
formation on affected geographic areas and is used to determine impact as well as relief
and recovery operations.
Joint Assessment Missions (JAM) (in collaboration with UNHCR) aims to understand the
situation, needs, risks, capacities, vulnerabilities of refugees and international displaced
people with regards to food and nutritional needs.
Crop and Food Supply Missions (CFSAM) (in collaboration with FAO) analyses the supply
and demand for staple foods, estimates any uncovered staple food import needed for the
coming year and analyses household’s access to food.
A Food Security Monitoring System (FSMS) works with EFSA to track changes in food
security condition and provides food security information about areas with and without
Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) is a standardized scale that classifies
food security situations by severity into five phases, compares situations across coun-
 Common Risk Assessment Phases
 generally food secure
 moderately/borderline food insecure
 acute food and livelihood crisis
 humanitarian emergency


Climate Change & Food Security
 Emergency Food Security Assessments (EFSAs)
 Food and economic gap analysis: Household Economy Approach (HEA) takes a
comprehensive view of household food security by examining livelihoods assets and
strategies that determine sources of food, food and non-food expenditures, sources
of income and coping strategies
 Food security phases and scales integrates hard indicators i.e. physically measurable
factors such as energy intake (kcal), nutrition status (weight and height), morbidity
(disease prevalence), mortality (number of deaths), water availability (liters per per-
son), etc. Soft indicators include human/social behaviors, such as strategies to ob-
tain income and food, displacement, etc.
 Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) examines the degrees of sever-
ity of the food security situation in a country by combining various indicators:
 number of deaths per 10,000 people per day
 degree of wasting: weight-for-height in children under 5
 prevalence of disease\food access and availability: kcal/person/day available for
 food consumption frequency and diversity score
 water access and availability: liters/person/day\destitution and displacement patterns
 civil security context\coping strategies: coping strategy index, use of crisis strategies
 use of livelihood assets
 Furthermore, food security is linked to the global market economy and thus govern-
ments, international organizations and private actors should work together to address
issues such as:
 taking market dynamics into consideration for hunger alleviation initiatives
 support markets through investments in institutions and infrastructure
 use power of markets to transform market dependency into opportunities
 reduce market-based risks and vulnerabilities and safeguard markets in emergencies
 invest in social protection
 invents more in nutrition and differently in agriculture
 ensure that trade supports food security
 engage domestic and international actors in the fight against hunger; and
 create and leverage knowledge


Climate Change & Food Security
Through risk assessment, adaptation practices are established which require extensive high
quality data and information on climate and environmental impact on agricultural (food secu-
rity) and economic and social systems. For example, early warning and risk management sys-
tems are efficient contributors that can facilitate adaptation to climate variability and change.
Since climate change will result in multiple types of changes, it is important to assess risks by
The international community must respond effectively to threats to maintain and ensure
security for everyone. Therefore, sustainable development means eradicating poverty and im-
proving quality of life. There is enough evidence around the world to prove that climate change
is very real and with the increase of severe weather, floods and droughts which has intensified
soil erosion, water contamination and ice melt all aiding in the creation of hazardous substances
in the ecosystem serve as an immense reality. Through risk assessment, risk management, risk
governance and knowledge, states must begin at the local level to ensure successful adaptation
policies and efficient mitigation practices in relation to environmental degradation and climate
change for the overall global good.
Risk assessment and vulnerability analysis show that countries, regions, economic sectors
and social groups differ in their degree of vulnerability to climate change as well as its impact
to food security. Also, recognizing that climate change is a critical importance for food secu-
rity, international organizations should collaborate to incorporate action to mitigate and adapt to
such changes. The relationship between climate change and food security affects the very exis-
tence of mankind, therefore it is up to not only organizations but civil society to achieve the ul-
timate goal and not only promote local dialogue, but also increase knowledge and information
on efforts to assessing the risks and vulnerabilities. Climate change will surely affect the basic
elements of life for people - access to water, food production, health and the environment. It is
therefore imperative to deal with global climate changes and its impact to vulnerable communi-


About ET21
The Rutgers Center for the Study of Emergent Threats in the 21st Century (ET21) is an interdis-
ciplinary center of excellence designed to research a variety of emergent threats to civilians and
offer policy prescriptions that generate suitable responses to these threats through three compo-
nent programs focused on: Global Security, Civil Resistance, and Immigration

ET21 was created in order generate better linkages between the research activity of faculty and
those of students, creating a better prepared and educated cohort of graduates able to compete in
the global marketplace for jobs. By developing a long-term partnership with the programs,
funds and specialized agencies of the United Nations, several national governments, as well as
partner institutions across the globe, ET21 enlarges DGA’s global network of linkages. Current
initiatives involving partner institutions that have recently been initiated but would be housed
under the new Center’s rubric, for example, include Kassel (Germany), Koeceli (Turkey), Sci-
ences Po (France), Viadrina am Oder (Germany) and the University of Warwick (UK).

ET21 is housed under the Division of Global Affairs (DGA) at Rutgers University, Newark.
The growing prominence and prestige of the DGA as a premier interdisciplinary research-
oriented policy program have allowed it to establish itself as a center of excellence in the field
of global affairs, worldwide.

About the Program on Global Security

Large scale threats such as the September 11 terrorist attacks, the emergence of new diseases, and the militariza-
tion of cyberspace in the past few years have raised the awareness of both government decision makers and the
private sector that the vital systems and infrastructures upon which our societies and economies depend on are at
great risk from the complex threats emerging in the 21st Century. ET21 is an initiative begun by the Division of
Global Affairs in an effort to contribute to a better understanding of the structural sources of these threats, and to
identify the kind of policy actions that will need to be adopted to mitigate their consequences. The ET21 center
brings together practitioners, policymakers and scholars to find solutions to the challenges many organizations face
in developing early warning systems, crisis awareness, and response.
The focus of the centers work is divided into four themes related to the study of emergent threats as fol-
lows: Data needs and structures, Threat assessment methodology, Analytics, Visualization
An important aspect of the center’s work is the involvement of students in research and policy develop-
ment. In addition, the center is developing its outreach which includes an initial symposium on the development of
common methodology employed in threat assessment.

Website Division of Global Affairs