Food Security Task Force
Food Security - Definition and Pillars
Food security is the existence of:
1) Safe, nutritious food for all people at all times and
2) A food system (a community’s means of food production, distribution, and consumption) that protects people and promotes their culture, economy, and environment.
The three pillars of food security are:Food Availability – sufficient quantities of food that are available on a consistent basis
Food Access – sufficient resources to obtain appropriate foods for a nutritious diet
Food Use – food prepared with knowledge of nutrition, adequate water, and sanitation
The FSTF further promotes:
Food Justice – protection of food producers’ and consumers’ rights
Food Sustainability – use of environmentally sound practices in food production
Food Sovereignty – community control over dietary habits and food systems
Food Security in Togo
An increasing population, environmental degradation, and gender disparities have led to the current food security crisis in Togo. From less than 2 million people in 1970, the population has grown to almost 7 million. This has put increasing stress on land resources in a country where the majority still practice subsistence farming, leading to desertification in the north and loss of soil fertility in the south. A shift to tenant farming has encouraged mass migration of landless poor from villages to cities looking for jobs.
Environmental degradation has meant less food available for poor families. Use of chemical fertilizers, burning of fields, and inability to let fields fallow has hurt soil quality and crop production. Food is less available through the dry season, when lack of fruits and vegetables in villagers’ diets encourages malnutrition and related diseases. An unpredictable climate puts poor farmers more at risk of crop failure during droughts, and the depletion of forests for fuel wood makes this situation worse.
Gender inequity also hurts food security. Women are occupied with household tasks such as looking after children, gathering fuel wood, and cooking meals. Without these burdens, men are more able to pursue education or find jobs. The inequality in gender roles causes poor family planning and food security decisions at home. The AIDS epidemic hurts the labor force as sick villagers are unable to work and their family members must care for them.
Second Annual Camp ECO-Action
In order to empower motivated Togolese to combat environmental degradation, take environmental action, and improve food security, Peace Corps Togo continues the national youth environmental action camp ECO-Action in the village of Datcha, located in the region of Plateau. Each year, 60 Togolese participants and 20 counselors (10 Peace Corps Volunteers and 10 Togolese counterparts) will acquire technical skills, discuss environmental problems, and create community-driven action plans to enact real change in their communities following this weeklong experience. Sustainability for this camp is reinforced by support from national and local organizations, a camp menu of all local food, and considerable extensive follow-up with campers.
Girls' Camp is July 15 - July 20 and Boys' Camp is July 22 - July 27.
In July 2012, PCV trainers and Togolese counterparts trained campers on proper mulching and natural pesticide techniques. (Photo credit: RPCV Katie Koralesky)
PCV trainers explained the fundamentals of a fruit and vegetable solar dryer. (Photo credit: RPCV Katie Koralesky)
System of Intensive Rice Production
PCV Veronica MAZARIEGOS, along with her counterpart ADOKANOU Joseph Koukou are working to introduce the System of Intensive Rice Production (or Système Intensive de Riziculture) in the southern region of Maritime. After attending a WASFP sponsored SRI training held in Benin in September 2012, they have been putting into practice the new technique alongside the traditional method in a controlled experimental plot. The experimental plot is the foundational and key teaching tool for a training scheduled in June 2013 with local producers that would include demonstrations and hands on practice of the new technique.
Foire AlimenTERRE 2012
In a country where local food is unappreciated and imported products are highly valued, the basics of food security become multifaceted in both its difficulties and opportunities, especially in advocating local organic farming and agribusiness strategies. Peace Corps partnered with a local NGO, OADEL, to coordinate a “food fair” in the capital, Lomé, promoting Togolese producers who engage in local food transformations, organic agricultural practices, and successful agribusiness. OADEL, an organization that encourages local and organic agriculture, held many information sessions for the vendors: global agriculture, business skills, organic practices, and nutrition. PC/Togo involved seven counterparts who represented a variety of products, from bush rat and turkeys to local moonshine and rice to ginger transformations and organic honey. Not only were the counterparts able to showcase their own contributions toward the food security of Togo, but also they were also to increase their market to a national level and receive support from a community of Togolese who value local, organic, and sustainable food.
Food Security Conference in Halukpabundo
In Togo’s Centrale region, PCV Naffisatu Conteh organized a food security conference to increase her community’s awareness of ways to improve their resources as well as the importance of food security. Ten participants from 10 different groups learned new techniques such as mushroom farming and solar drying that are better for the environment, family, and their farms.
FSTF members conduct sessions at annual trainings for PCVs and staff. Participants explore projects in diverse sectors (education, health, enterprise, etc.) concerning food security and FSTF encourages them to integrate food security into their work. The FSTF is also working to integrate food security activities into Pre-Service Training for all sectors (EGE, CHAP and EAFS).
Food Security Assessment
In September 2012, FTSF created initiated its first community assessment centering on food security. The goal of this assessment is to gather information about communities nationwide and identify community needs using a participative approach, in a culturally aware and respectful fashion. 2012 marked a trial run of the assessment and FSTF members used feedback from new volunteers to improve the FSA. Hopefully, the FSTF will be able to use the FSA to design activities appropriate to the needs of communities for the second In-Service Training with Togolese counterparts to integrate food security into their work.
National Commodities Index
The FSTF collaborates with PCVs across Togo to track the prices of staple goods (e.g. corn, rice, beans, soy, peanuts, yams, etc.) in their local markets. This information helps farmers develop strategies that can improve their profits and gives insight into the complex connections between remote farmers and the global marketplace.
The seed bank is a resource for PCVs and counterparts. Presently, it is based in Dapaong, capital of the northernmost region of Savannah. Tree seeds can be requested to support reforestation or agroforestry projects, and garden seeds are available for starting permagardens. FSTF received five unique tree seeds from The 2012 Food Security Summit in The Gambia. In addition, the FSTF has created a food security digital toolkit filled with resources to support PCV projects and a tree identification guide.
Peace Corps FSCs in Other Countries:
Burkina Faso - http://pcburkina.org/food-security
Ghana - http://www.peacecorpswiki.org/Food_Security_Action_Committee
Mali - http://pcmalifoodsecurity.tumblr.com/
Senegal - http://pcsenegal.org/page/view/food-security
USAID and West Africa Food Security Partnership | http://www.feedthefuture.gov/
PAM: Programme Alimentaire Mondial (World Food Program) | http://www.wfp.org/countries/togo
JVE: Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement (Young Volunteers for the Environment) | http://www.cooperationtogo.net/jve/the-young-volunteers-for-the-environment
ANCE: Alliance Nationale des Consumers et l’Environnement (National Alliance of Consumers and the Environment)
Chief walking home through an model agroforestry field
The Moringa Song
My Peace Corps experience permanently opened my eyes and heart. I treasure my friendships with fellow volunteers and Togolese that have continued to grow for the past 35 years. Ruth Fenzi Reeder, Togo RPCV 1976 - 1978