Combating hunger: strategy for food security

In pursuit of the first Millennium Development Goal - combating hunger - the European Union has drawn up a programme that is specifically aimed at improving Community policy on food security, particularly for the most vulnerable groups, through a set of priorities and measures that complement national programmes and improve their coherence.


Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 25 January 2006 - A thematic strategy for food security: Advancing the food security agenda to achieve the Millennium Development Goals [COM(2006) 21 final - not published in the Official Journal].


Among the thematic programmes forming part of the Community's external action, the Commission has drawn up a programme on food security. Its legal bases are the Development Cooperation Instrument and the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument.

Action on food insecurity is enshrined in the first Millennium Development Goal and, despite progress in reducing hunger at global level, much still needs to be done. Food insecurity is typically exacerbated by environmental degradation, poor productive systems, badly functioning markets and limited human capacity and is compounded by inequalities, with social entitlements to food affected by gender, age and ethnicity.

Food insecurity is particularly rife in a number of States which are vulnerable institutionally and where food security goals are difficult to attain because of political instability.

Policy guidelines for combating hunger

Community food security policy has evolved since its inception. It now consists of support for broad-based food security strategies at the national, regional and global level rather than the mere delivery of food aid. Food security remains a priority in European development policy, as stated in the European Consensus.

Community policy stresses the central role of nationally developed strategies to achieve long-term food security and the need to target hunger as the first priority in the fight against poverty.

In 2004, an external evaluation confirmed the validity of the strategy adopted and concluded that food security can be achieved only by simultaneously addressing the availability of food, access to food, the quality of nutrition and the prevention of food crises. It also stressed the added value of Linking Relief, Rehabilitation and Development (LRRD).

The evaluation identified the following areas for possible improvement:

Why use a thematic approach?

The thematic programme can support the development of national food security policies and monitoring systems in order to ensure that a strategic approach to food security is enshrined in national poverty reduction strategies. Geographical programmes are the standard instrument for implementing the Community's food security policy world-wide, in cooperation with governments where the operational framework permits.

When emergency aid comes to an end, a transition from humanitarian assistance to this type of thematic programme is warranted in the following circumstances:


The thematic programme aims to:

Its coverage varies according to the different components:

Programming is based on the following principles:

Implementation of the programme is based on multiannual programming and on a thematic strategy paper covering the period 2007-2011. It will be evaluated during the first three-year period (2007-2009) in order to help prepare the second thematic strategy paper (2011-2013).

The strategic priorities of the programme are:

The primary beneficiaries of the programme are the following groups: children under the age of five; communities with members suffering from HIV/AIDS or other chronic illnesses; war-affected communities and groups and internally displaced people; women; pastoralists, small farmers and fisher folk; landless and farm labourers and the urban ultra-poor.

Key terms in the act


Commission Decision 2005/769/EC of 27 October 2005 laying down rules for the procurement of food aid by NGOs authorised by the Commission to purchase and mobilise products to be supplied under Council regulation (EC) No 1292/96, and repealing its decision of 3 September 1998 [Official Journal L 291, 05.11.2005].

Modified by: Commission Decision 2006/541/EC [Official Journal L 214, 04.08.2006].

This decision defines the rules that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) benefitting from Community aid must respect in buying products to be supplied as Community food aid.

Council Decision 2000/421/EC of 13 June 2000 on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Community, of the Food Aid Convention 1999 [Official Journal L 163, 04.07.2000].

Council Regulation (EC) No 1292/96 of 27 June 1996 on food-aid policy and food-aid management and special operations in support of food security [Official Journal L 166, 05.07.1996].

Last updated: 02.04.2008