In view of its 25th issue, which will be published in March 2024, the Humanitarian Alternatives review is launching a call for papers for its special feature on a topic with the provisional title of “The global food crisis: an overview and the role that humanitarian actors can play”. If you are a participant, researcher or observer of the international humanitarian field, and wish to submit an article proposal on this topic, please send a summary of your argument and a draft plan (2 pages maximum) before 30 October 2023 to the following email address: email@example.com You will receive a reply by 2 November 2023 at the latest. Note that the deadline to submit an article proposal has been extended to 13 November 2023.
The final article – to be written in French or English – must be submitted by 24 January 2024. The article should be around 2,400 words (including footnotes). Around six or seven articles will be accepted for this Focus.
For each issue, we also take on articles themes related to humanitarian action other than the one of the Focus; these are published in the “Perspectives”, “Transitions”, “Innovations”, “Ethics”, “Reportage” or “Tribune” sections. We invite you to send us your proposals.
The global food crisis:
an overview and the role that humanitarian actors can play
Issue main theme co-directed by Stéphanie Stern – ACF Knowledge Lab Project Lead, Action Against Hunger – France
and Frédéric Mousseau – Policy Director at the Oakland Institute (https://www.oaklandinstitute.org), responsible for research and advocacy activities on land investment, food security and agriculture.
and Boris Martin, Editor-in-Chief of Humanitarian Alternatives
Over the past five years, hunger has been on the rise again and the number of food crises is increasing. 828 million people were hungry around the world in 2022 – 46 million more than the previous year. According to the latest Global Report on Food Crises (World Food Programme, 2023), there were 58 food crises worldwide in 2022 and 258 million people were experiencing acute food insecurity, i.e. they were physically and economically unable to access enough safe, nutritious food. Undernutrition, which results in stunted growth, acute malnutrition and multiple deficiencies, is still the cause of almost half the deaths of children under five worldwide. Acute crisis situations aside, 3 billion people do not have access to a healthy diet. The food crisis, once the sad preserve of poor or war-torn countries, is now affecting industrialised countries. For example, 16% of French people say they do not eat their fill (Crédoc, 2023) and 26 million Americans went hungry in 2020 (U.S. Census Bureau).
The causes of food crises are well known: the impact of conflicts – often protracted –, which today primarily affect civilian populations; the rise of socio-economic inequalities aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic; the effects of climate and environmental crises; and the failure of local, national and global governments to deal with it all. The conflict in Ukraine and the economic shocks and inflation that followed, and the sad legacy of the worst drought in the Horn of Africa for 40 years, are a tragic illustration of this combination of factors.
Yet global hunger is not inevitable: above all, it demonstrates a lack of political prioritisation. Given the multiple causes, there is obviously no single solution and one can only stand alongside those who ask States to initiate profound and truly transformative systemic changes. This requires public policies to be truly aligned to provide access to public services for all, an agro-ecological transformation of food systems, and the cessation of policies that have a negative impact.
The aim of this new issue of Humanitarian Alternatives is not to add to the indispensable advocacy already being undertaken by others to challenge politicians and economic and financial actors: it is more a question of asking what humanitarian actors are observing, devising and advancing in order to take part, at their own level, in this global struggle. In this complex equation of climate shocks, geopolitical crises, failure of economic and political systems, what is their added value? In addition to the resources that must be provided and consolidated in response to emergency situations, what changes have non-governmental organisations and humanitarian agencies incorporated into their practices that give them undeniable expertise? What else can these actors do to step up the fight against hunger and food crises? What specific role can and must they play when it comes to questioning our models of society and transforming our systems, whilst complementing the other actors involved? Given their place at the crossroads of “field” and “decision-makers”, are they able to support the systematic participation of civil societies and communities, in all their diversity, in the co-construction of public policies, at local, national, regional and international levels? Given their reputational power, are they being called upon to take a stand on intensive agriculture and the agro-industrial system of production, food price volatility and speculative practices, or is it beyond their mandate and capacities?
Although these questions establish the wider scope of this issue of our review, they do not preclude others – both innovative and neglected – that authors may submit to us.