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Tuesday, 29 July 2008

The right to food?

The Mozambican government is apparently considering proposals for legislation that would make access to food a basic right. The legislation would defend "the right of every person to have physical and economic access to food at all times, in sufficient quantity and quality".

At this stage, you might be wondering where you have heard that before. Yes, it is our very own
Mung'omba Draft Constitution Article 70, part (1) : Every person has the right to be free from hunger and to have to have access to food in quantities and of adequate quality and cultural acceptability. Article 63 provides the carefully worded supporting text - Parliament shall enact which provides measures which are reasonable in order to achieve the progressive realisation of the economic, social and cultural rights referred to in Articles 65 - 71.

I can't wait for the NCC to debate this one!
The definition of "reasonable" will most certainly spark some discussion.

7 comments:

  1. I think a 'right to food' could be very interesting.

    The government can't degree that everyone has enough to eat, but it could give a 'right of way' to for instance 'squatters' who are using land for agriculture over developers or investors. Or they could oblige investors to compensate the people they displace with similar quality farmland.

    Perhaps that would be more of a 'right to work'.

    This is the 'Right To Food' website at the FAO.

    Reliefweb has the full 'Right To Food Guidelines'. This document is very much 'food aid donor' oriented, instead of farming or production oriented.

    Equador has alreadyM included this right into it's new constitution.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Why in the constitution ?
    How do you enforce that ? Does someone who doesn't get food in quantities and of adequate quality and cultural acceptability go to the courts ? What becomes unconstitutionnal ? The action by a restaurant to price the access to their food ? The action by government of not giving it ?

    In short, what the hell would the inclusion of the right to food do for hunger ?

    It's policies that help, not constitutionnal grandstanding.

    t could give a 'right of way' to for instance 'squatters' who are using land for agriculture over developers or investors. Or they could oblige investors to compensate the people they displace with similar quality farmland.

    How would that work ? Wouldn't people realize that squatting some investor or develloper land is more profitable than acquiring it in other ways ?
    And why would any investor or develloper buy land when they know that they can either loose it or have to compensate other people (on top of the initial sale price) ?

    There are better ways to resolve "squatter" issue than bulldoze entire neighbourghood and villages (as the Great Patriotic Nationalist People-Friendly Socialist Benevolent Government of Zimbabwe has done) but this is certainly not the best.

    And Ecuador also discussed a woman's right to enjoy sexual happiness in its constituant assembly.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The "right to food" campaing is being championed by Father Henriott and the JCTR.

    I just think it misses the point.
    Its a sort of thing that undermines the constitution because its actually not enforceable...so people start seeing the whole document as pointless..

    The government is rightly oppositing it.

    It also sends the wrong message..have as many babies as you can because government has to feed you...

    What is needed is a pragramatic approach to food security..

    ReplyDelete
  4. It also sends the wrong message..have as many babies as you can because government has to feed you...

    I couldn't care less - the more the merrier.

    Besides, 'the right to food' doesn't necessarily only mean that 'the government has to feed you'.

    It could mean that the goverment or the courts must enforce a living minimum wage, so people who work hard don't starve because they make too little money to make ends meet.

    ReplyDelete
  5. If Zambia cannot even feed people now how do you think it can achieve the same with double its population?

    We have to expand sustainably.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Cho,

    If Zambia cannot even feed people now how do you think it can achieve the same with double its population?

    We have to expand sustainably.


    1) Zambia will double it's population within the next 25 years.

    2) a)80% of land is not under cultivation and b) only 3% of land is under irrigation, meaning that it can support more than 1 harvest per year.

    There is a massive potential for not only the expansion of agriculture, but for doing it in such a way that everyone has enough income to afford food, housing, etc.

    And that is just about the expansion of agriculture. If manufacturing is expanded, there are lots of productive jobs for people in the cities too.

    In fact, I can envision a situation where Zambia develops to such an extent, that it starts to attract the population of neighboring countries.

    Japan:

    127,433,494 - population
    377,873 km² - land surface (62nd)
    337/km² - population density (30th)

    Zambia:
    11,668,000 - population
    752,618 km² - land surface (39th)
    16/km² - population density (191st)

    If Japan is not starving to death, then population size or population density have nothing to do with poverty. With twice the population going from 16/km to 32/km, Zambia still would have less than 1/10th the population density of Japan.

    Even today, there were two articles in The Post that bemoaned basic capacity - apparently the reason for farmers selling their maize in Malawi, is because the FRA only has 2 sattellite depots per district.
    The other article is about healthcare being poorly accessible for much of the population.

    So the future seems to be to me in capacity expansion, of all sectors of the economy. It will create jobs and income. And as I said, the more the merrier. :)

    Sources:
    Japan: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JAPAN
    Zambia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zambia

    ReplyDelete
  7. You are right...but what always worry me is why no one is doing what you suggest?

    Kapita and those before him seem passionate about agriculture, but there's no pursuit of the kind of radical programme you expound.

    The FNDP, which I am sure you have read on Agriculture, does not appear to have your kind of radical vision.

    So why do you think that is? And what are you views of the agenda that is set out there?

    ReplyDelete

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