Renewed impetus for food security: the EU tackles hunger in developing countries

06 April 2010

The European Commission adopted two new EU policy frameworks to help developing countries address the issue of food security, both in emergency and long-term situation.

 The objectives are to ensure progress toward achieving Millennium Development Goal related to the elimination of poverty and hunger (MDG 1), and to maximise the effectiveness of humanitarian support in crises where food insecurity threatens lives. Food security implies food availability, access to food and quality of food. The Commission promotes the vision of an environmentally friendly and sustainable agricultural model, adapted to the reality of developing countries and markets, and able to make food available, accessible and of adequate nutritional quality. It therefore concentrates on enhancing the productivity of smallholder farmers and the resilience of rural communities, supporting governance improvements for food security, and strengthening assistance mechanisms for extremely vulnerable population groups.

Andris Piebalgs, the European Commissioner for Development, said: "Enhancing food security remains an issue of primary importance for the EU. We have positioned food security, sustainable agriculture and rural development at the heart of our policy towards developing partners. It is unacceptable that, in 2010, one billion people are still suffering from hunger and malnutrition. Therefore today I am setting out our vision of how the EU can more structurally help developing countries tackle the twin evils of hunger and poverty, so that we can meet the Millennium Development Goals".

The new humanitarian food assistance framework, which complements the one on food security, sets out the objectives, principles and approaches underpinning the EU's efforts to tackle acute food insecurity and malnutrition in crises. The focus is on reaching the people that are most nutritionally vulnerable in disasters, particularly women and children, and on protecting livelihoods, maintaining the capacity of crisis-hit communities to feed themselves in both the short and longer-term.

Kristalina Georgieva, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, explained: "Even in a crisis, there can be more effective ways of helping people other than through simple food hand-outs. For example, we can provide seeds and tools to help disaster-affected farmers get back on their feet. We can offer emergency cash grants so that people can buy the food they need - helping local producers in the process. Our aim is to tailor our response to specific needs through a broader range of tools for dealing with hunger in emergencies."

In a breakfast with members of the European Parliament and NGOs in New York, previous to the International Donors Conference for Haiti, Commissioners Piebalgs and Georgieva had the opportunity to discuss the practical application of the ideas of these communications on food assistance and security in one of the places where it is most needed - in Haiti

Global hunger and malnutrition have increased in recent years, affecting human development, social and political stability and progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (as well as causing widespread suffering and loss of life. The food price rises of 2007-2008, and the financial crisis, have also had a serious impact on developing countries.

The new EU policy will help developing countries strengthen the four pillars of food security in both development and emergency settings: (i) increasing availability of food, (ii) improving access to food, (iii) improving quality and ensuring intake of suitably nutritious food, and (iv) boosting the effectiveness of crisis prevention and management. The EU will also seek to make the global organisation on food security more effective. The Commission therefore proposes:

  • A focus on support for ecologically efficient agricultural intensification for smallholder farmers, and in particular women;
  • A substantial increase in support to demand-led agricultural research, extension and innovation, aiming to reach 50% by 2015;
  • A joint initiative with the African Union to accelerate the implementation of the African Land Policy Guidelines;
  • Support for the establishment or expansion of targeted and flexible social safety nets adapted to local contexts;
  • Promoting better integration of nutrition in development policies, including in education and health and related capacity building;
  • Support for the reform of the Committee on World Food Security to become the pivotal global institution on food security.

For emergency response, the EU will also seek to strengthen the capacity of the international humanitarian system to deliver effective and appropriate responses in a timely and efficient way.

The European Commission will also contribute almost €3 billion in 2010-2012 within the initiative on global food security agreed at the G8 summit of world leaders in 2009.

Today's communications will be discussed by the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.

More information:

An EU policy framework to assist developing countries in addressing food security challenges:

Commission Communication on humanitarian food assistance:

General Page for humanitarian food assistance:

Direct links to the documents:

- Humanitarian food assistance Communication:

- Humanitarian food assistance Staff working document:




Additional information