First Line of Defence: Assessing the potential of local food reserves in the Sahel | Climate Resilience

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Acute food crises continue to reverse positive development trends in sub-Saharan Africa. As the international community attempts to address the challenges of food security, the focus has largely been on two issues: the devastating effects of food price volatility on the most vulnerable populations, and recurrence of acute food crises. Food reserves have potential to be a first line of defence against food insecurity, but there is a lack of analysis focusing specifically on how food reserves can be used at different levels and in a range of ways. Oxfam's report aims to fill that gap by analysing recent experiences with local food reserves in the Sahel region, reviewing the factors that determine their failure or success, and assessing innovative instruments (such as linking local food reserves to national reserves
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  OXFAM RESEARCH REPORTS Oxfam Research Reports  are written to share research results, to contribute to public debate and to invite feedback on development and humanitarian policy and practice. They do not nec-essarily reflect Oxfam policy positions. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of Oxfam.  www.oxfam.org FIRST LINE OF DEFENCE  Assessing the potential of local food reserves in the Sahel GABRIEL PONS CORTÈS ITZIAR GÓMEZ CARRASCO Despite existing literature on the different modalities of food reserves, there is a dearth of specific analysis focusing on the potential of the first line of defence against food insecurity. The aim of the present study is to address this gap by analysing recent experiences, reviewing the factors that can determine or condition their failure or success, and assessing innovative instruments (such as linking local reserves to national food reserves, index insurance and stabilization funds) that could also contribute to their improvement.  2   First Line of Defence: Assessing the potential of local food reserves in the Sahel   CONTENTS Executive Summary 4   1   Introduction 5   2   Background 7   Building resilience 7 Good food security governance and the right to food 8 3   Understanding the problem to be addressed at the local level 9   4   Defining existing types of Local Food Reserves 11   Local food reserves: key features and objectives 12 Local food security reserves 13 Commercial Local Food Reserves 14 5   How can local food reserves contribute to food security? 17   By mitigating the effects of price spikes 17 By strengthening broader food security strategies 17 By carrying out social protection initiatives 18 By increasing the income of small producers 19 By protecting livelihoods and assets 19 By helping to overcome remoteness and isolation 20 By empowering populations 20 By promoting women‟s participation and empowerment  21 6   Understanding the fragility of LFR 23   Vulnerability to price risk 23 Vulnerability to climate 25 Promotion, planning and design 26 Management problems   27   7   Defining an enabling environment for local stocks to flourish 30   What are LFR useful for? 30 How to promote, plan and design local food reserves? 30 Should the existing LFR be supported? 31 What the State should do to support LFR 32 What LFR should do by themselves: create federations 37 I t‟s about building the capacity of institutions  39 8   Conclusions and recommendations 40   What governments should do 40 What producer organisations should do 42 Bibliography 43 Notes  43 Acknowledgements 47    First Line of Defence: Assessing the potential of local food reserves in the Sahel 3    ACRONYMS  AAAE  Association Aidons l‟Afrique Ensemble  CIMMYT International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre ECOWAS Economic Community of West African States FEPAB Fédération des Professionnels Agricoles du Burkina Faso FSR Food security reserves HARITA Horn of Africa Risk Transfer for Adaptation LFR Local food reserves SDC Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation WFP World Food Programme WRS Warehouse Receipt Systems  4   First Line of Defence: Assessing the potential of local food reserves in the Sahel   EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Despite existing literature on the different modalities of food reserves, there is a dearth of specific analysis focusing on the potential of the first line of defence as a key instrument against food insecurity. The aim of the present study is to address this gap by analysing recent experiences, reviewing the factors that can determine or condition the failure or success of local food reserves, and assessing innovative instruments (such as linking local reserves to national food reserves, index insurance and stabilization funds) that could also contribute to improving their performance. This study argues that local food reserves have a number of distinctive features that make them particularly well placed to positively contribute to food security strategies in the Sahel. Local food reserves are firmly grounded in the local dimension of food security and can play a key role as part of both community and national food security strategies. They are tailored to each specific context and their objectives can be adapted in accordance to the concrete needs of the communities they serve. The first part of the report explores the ways in which local food reserves can contribute to food security (from mitigating the effects of price hikes to protecting livelihoods and assets, helping to overcome geographic isolation and empowering populations), and analyses the fragility of local food reserves in terms of their vulnerability to price risk and climate risk as well as the challenges linked to their promotion, planning and design. The second part of the report seeks to determine the factors and conditions required to create an enabling environment in which local food reserves can operate effectively. States have the legal obligation to ensure that the right to food is fulfilled and supporting LFR should be seen as part and parcel of this fundamental commitment as well as an effective way of strengthening community-based approaches to food security. LFR do not constitute a simple blueprint solution that can be applied everywhere. They are not viable in every context and require certain conditions to adequately function. One of the key requirements is securing the commitment and support of governments to accompany their development and provide assistance as required. The final section proposes a series of recommendations for governments and producer organisations. Governments are encouraged to endorse measures geared towards linking LFR to national reserves, procuring food products locally, tackling climate and price risks, strengthening links with social protection strategies, improving the institutional capacity of LFR, developing monitoring systems, promoting the legislation of LFR, introducing smart subsidies, promoting the development of new technologies and encouraging household storage as zero line of defence. Producer organisations are encouraged to create federations, facilitate information exchanges between LFR, share costs of centralised control, share support and advice services, act as buffer stocks and mutualise risks. This report is the result of four research processes: a) an extensive desk review of existing literature and secondary sources on local food reserves and related instruments, b) an econometric study assessing the potential of stabilisation/compensation funds to tackle price risk vulnerability; c) Oxfam experiences in Africa; d) a primary study involving fieldwork in Burkina.
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