West Africa Should Use Human Rights Model To Improve Food Security

“When the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire in 2015, governments are likely to set themselves a challenge no less ambitious than eradicating hunger and extreme poverty by 2030. West Africa has the potential to match this ambition and spearhead the global fight against hunger,” Olivier De Schutter, the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food, writes in a Nigerian Tribune opinion piece. Though several countries in the region have made significant progress in reducing malnutrition, factors such as population growth and extreme weather events continue to threaten income and productivity, and “too little has been done to build the resilience — to climate shocks, to market uncertainties — that West African food systems urgently need,” he states. “What West African countries need are national and regional food security strategies that identify the objectives which all subsequent initiatives must serve,” he writes, adding, “The right to food, a human right protected under international law, can provide the compass that West African countries need to put them squarely on the path to ending hunger.” De Schutter describes several national-level initiatives based on the rights model (7/18).