Food Security and Sustainable Consumption.

ICCO’s successful model of strengthening local food systems consists of three important pillars.

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Food and Nutrition

Malnutrition hinders development

Everyone has the right to sufficient and healthy food. But this is not yet reality. In a world of 7 billion people, 795 million are underfed. Two billion, mainly women and children, are malnourished and do not get enough vitamins and/or minerals. Malnutrition, especially during the first thousand days after conception, hinders children’s physical and intellectual development.

There are also 2 billion people in the world who are overfed and malnourished as a result of an unhealthy diet. Not all of them live in rich countries; increasingly they are also found in emerging economies. When we add the effects of population growth and climate change to this situation, the importance of food security in today’s world becomes clear.

Small producers

Malnutrition is widespread among the 500 million small-scale producers in the rural areas of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Their reduced access to land, water, seeds, agricultural services, and markets means their productivity is low.

But these farmers and their families are also a big part of the solution to malnutrition. That’s why ICCO devotes much of its attention to farmers who cultivate small areas of land (less than 2 hectares) and barely manage to make ends meet. Productivity, food security and consumption can be improved by working on effective and sustainable food systems. ICCO does this through a ‘multistakeholder’ approach that involves farmers, research institutes, governments, the private sector and civil society organizations.

Sustainable food systems

To rid the world of malnutrition, food systems must function well, both globally and locally, and on both the production and consumption sides. A food system includes the entire chain: growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, transport, marketing, consumption and food surpluses. Within a food system, ICCO endeavors to make enough healthy food available and accessible to households and citizens.

It is important to pay special attention to the disadvantaged position of women, youth and indigenous groups, both as producers and consumers of food. Because, according to the FAO, worldwide food production could increase by as much as 20% if women had equal access to productive resources. In addition, research has shown that improving women’s position also has a positive effect on their children’s nutritional status.

Successful approach

 ICCO has worked on food security programs for 50 years in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Between 2011 and 2015 we made sustainable improvements to the food security of over 200,000 rural households, with financial support from the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Commission and Netherlands embassies.

We have learned that a successful strategy consists of:

  1. Strengthening small-scale producers’ organizations
  2. Promoting inclusive and sustainable local food systems
  3. Promoting good nutrition 

Measuring is knowing 

ICCO uses AKVO Flow to monitor its work and learn from experience. We use this web-based tool to collect and share data on results via tablets, enabling us to adjust programs where necessary. ICCO uses the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS) to measure households’ access to food. We also use the Dietary Diversity Scale (DDS), which helps us gain insight into the quality of women’s diets. Lastly, we use a questionnaire to obtain information on the position of women within the household and the community.

Go to Akvopedia Food Security Portal

Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS)

More background information about HFIAS: 

Sustainable Development Goals

Zero Hungerdecent work and economic growthresponsible consumption and productionClimate actionLife on landPartnerships for the goals


AgriProFocus AIMBOP innovation CenterWageningen UniversityFIAN

Services and expertise

ICCO also offers services and expertise that contribute to increasing food security in emerging markets:


Making food systems

    Economic Empowerment

    Smallholders move beyond subsistence farming to sustainable agri-food production for inclusive markets.  

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    Responsible Business

    Companies do no harm in local communities and governments create an enabling environment for companies. 

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    Humanitarian Aid

    Disaster preparedness, life-saving aid and rehabilitation after an emergency through local organizations.


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