By Andre Redinger – Founder at Millhouse International
The fundamental rights of citizens globally are the constant topics of conversation in cabinets and governments. In November 2021, Zimbabwe gazetted a Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Amendment Bill and announced this month that public hearings on the bill would begin. If passed, the bill will impact the right to freedom of expression and civic space in the country.
In addition, Zimbabwe has continued to remain at the centre of the food insecurity conversation due to reasons that include low-productivity agricultural practices and lack of access to markets, with UNICEF rating the country as suffering from one of the world’s worst global food crises.
Like all other human rights, the right to adequate food is more than a moral duty or a policy choice. It is a human right of every person everywhere and must be fulfilled through appropriate actions by governments and the private sector.
In recent times, due to the global pandemic, and perpetuated by the unrest in Eastern Europe, the right to food and adequate nutrition has become a core focus for many governments around the world. In fact, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), 45 countries have recognised the right to adequate food in their constitutions, with this figure looking to increase.
The numbers speak volumes. According to the World Food Programme, 49 percent of the population in Zimbabwe live in extreme poverty. It is further estimated that food insecurity affects 5.3 million people across rural and urban areas. We have a long way to go if the ideals of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development goal number 2 – Ending hunger, achieving food security, improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture – are to be achieved.
So, how can we ensure that the right to food is protected and fulfilled?
Better policy design
It all starts with the government. Increased and specific attention must be given to policy around food programmes, fortification regulations, and the like. This will provide the foundation for an environment that is conducive to fulfilling the right to food.
Fortify foods to ensure nutritional value
The fortification of staple foods such as sugar, maize, flour and wheat with micronutrients and vitamins will ensure that individuals from all walks of life get the adequate amount of daily nutrients without increased costs or the need to expand their food basket.
Thorough testing to ensure food integrity and safety
Creating suitable infrastructure for the proper and thorough testing of foods to ensure they are safe for consumers to ingest is crucial. Lack of proper testing can have disastrous effects on the health of individuals and the industry at large.
Partner for access – to improve food security
The fight against malnutrition cannot be overcome alone. Governments must forge strategic public and private partnerships to ensure that resources and access to fortified and safe-to-consume foods is widespread.
It is incumbent on brands and manufacturers to educate consumers not only on how to read food labels to see if foods are adequately fortified, but also on best practices when it comes to nutrition and what best suits their specific needs. This will place the consumer in a position of power.
Human rights are fundamental to our existence as a human race. Doing what we can to ensure that all these rights are protected, respected and fulfilled – including the right to nutritional food – will go a long way in combating future hurdles.