This paper provides a summary of the Humanitarian Component of CARE’s Global Food Security Strategy. This strategy is at the discussion stage, all inputs are welcome and key questions raised in this summary are linked to an on-line survey designed to facilitate inputs from across CARE:


CARE’s Global Food Security Strategy; an Agenda for Action
CARE’s Food Security Advisory Group has drafted a strategy for CARE’s role in responding to global food insecurity: CARE’s Agenda for Action. It provides an overview of the current situation and highlights CARE’s added value and areas of specialization; as such it hopes to lay the foundation for guiding further developments in food security programming, advocacy, communication and learning across the CARE Federation and to locate food security firmly within CARE’s broader programming. The Agenda for Action focuses on four core elements:

Humanitarian Assistance
Agricultural & Livestock value chain
Social Protection

Trends and Drivers of Global Food Insecurity
We are entering a period of increased hunger, driven by problems of both food access and availability, for which global systems are singularly un-prepared. Current economic structures and aid systems have had limited impact on chronic hunger, which have seen hundreds of millions of people trapped in chronic hunger for decades. These structures and systems are being over-whelmed by increasing volatility and supply constraints within the global commodity market.


Humanitarian Food Security: Defining Characteristics
Food security crises are seldom discrete events, they have their roots in chronic vulnerability so while it is vital to address the immediate outcomes of food security crises, addressing these symptoms seldom tackles the longer-term causes of food insecurity and there is therefore a need for both appropriate emergency interventions and coherent linkages to longer-term food security responses.
Food insecurity represents a livelihoods outcome; it is inherently multi- dimensional. In the past, food security has often been equated with food aid, especially in emergency responses. However, food security focuses on people’s ability to obtain food, rather than just on food production or supply. Food production is necessary but not sufficient for food security. People access their food from many sources: their own production, purchase, the exchange of household production, labor or gifts.

Humanitarian Food Security: Overview of the Sector

Independent reviews of Emergency Food Security interventions[1] have highlighted recurrent weaknesses that characterize the sector:

- Disproportionate Responses: The humanitarian community has lacked the analytical capacity to ensure that resource can be proportionally allocated between countries.
- Late Responses: There have been significant investments in early warning, and while the range of indicators may be narrow, systems are generally robust; with regional and national systems complemented by independent analysis[2]. There remains, however, a critical gap between early warning and early response.

- Inappropriate Responses: More often than not a standard set of food security responses[3] are implemented - as if by default. There is, in general, a disconnection between assessed needs and the interventions that are implemented. Of particular concern is the Food-first” bias that assumes food security is the key driver of malnutrition. While food security is critical, it is only one of three underlying determinants of malnutrition identified in UNICEF’s model of malnutrition. To be appropriate a response must determine, and address, the importance of all three underlying determinants of malnutrition; food security, maternal & child care, public health.

A review of the Emergency Food Security sector commissioned by CARE in 2007 outlines State of the Art interventions that address these sector weaknesses,
International Forum: Rethinking the International Aid System’s Approach to Food Security (convened by CARE and Oxfam in April 2008), where participants of the forum called for:

1. Foundational improvements across the food security aid system in the areas of: learning and accountability; capacities; coordination; and funding.
2. Support for a common, integrated approach to understanding and responding to hunger and vulnerability: The current lack of coordination and coherence is a critical weakness.
3. Bridge the relief-development divide: The gaps between emergency and development work are one of the most important weaknesses that hinder progress in addressing food insecurity.

Humanitarian Food Security: CARE’s Current Capacity
CARE has significant humanitarian food security operations – globally it is WFP second largest implementing partner. CARE’s food security capacity is strongly linked to its operations and is therefore firmly based in Country Offices and the projects they implement – this is potently symbolized by the historical lack of HQ support for WFP operations. An assessment of CARE’s emergency food security capacity in 2007 highlighted that CARE’s continued reputation as a leading agency in the food security sector is based on CARE’s historical strengths, as much as current capacity:
- CARE’s historical strength in food aid operations supported broader food security analysis and programming. This foundational food aid capacity has been declining and CARE USA’s decision to end the monetization of Title II food aid by late 2009 has accelerated this decline.
- CARE’s food aid operations are often linked to supplementary feeding interventions[4], but our capacity to integrate broader nutrition programming into our emergency responses has been weak.
- CARE has a history of using cash for work interventions but needs to consolidate its capacity to support markets more broadly and program cash grants / vouchers in emergencies – these areas have developed rapidly, and CARE is falling behind a number of leading agencies.
- Advocacy for changes in the US food aid system represents a core strength.
- CARE does not have significant technical capacity to support scale-up at the on-set of a crisis.


CARE is well positioned to address the ongoing and new food security challenges that keep hundreds of millions of people hungry and vulnerable:

1) CARE recognized position as a leader within the sector support our calls for global reform – due to the size of our operations and our lead in developing technical innovations CARE is recognized as a leading agency within the food security sector. This supports our advocacy for reforms of food security systems that have the potential for global impact beyond our individual programs.
2) The current global food crisis provides real opportunities for systemic changes. These include:
· WFP’s change in strategic direction: to include the use of cash & more local purchase
· The UN’s Comprehensive Framework for Action: which could lead to reforms of global and national coordination of food security.
· The recent introduction of a Global Food Security Act before the US Congress: and the potential for shift away from monetization and greater use of social protection
3) CARE’s focus on chronic vulnerability supports a broader global movement. CARE’s organizational strengths revolve around the integration of emergency and development programming. This longer-term perspective represents a common theme that other major agencies share, enabling CARE to support a broad movement with the power to change how the world addresses hunger.
4) CARE has the potential to develop a unique strength in its multi- dimensional approach that combines innovations in market-based food assistance (cash/vouchers) with local/regional purchase and food aid supported by nutritional interventions: There are few agencies that offer this same combination – and their impact will always be limited by the inherent weakness of the intervention they focus on. Traditional food aid agencies have been slow to adopt market-based responses, while leading advocates of market-based responses have little capacity in commodity management. CARE’s capacity to combine these two interventions gives it the ability to responds appropriately in context where either approach alone would be ineffective

In order to capitalize on these opportunities and be a leader within a global movement that realizes radical reductions in acute hunger and vulnerability CARE must:

Address Acute Hunger: Since food security is inherently multi-dimensional, in order to protect lives CARE must have the capability to program in three key sectors and undertake cross-cutting analysis:
1. Situation & Response Analysis: closing the gap between early warning and action is dependent on a combination of both Situation and Response Analysis that informs decision making and determines, both technically and operationally, the most appropriate response. As the key indicator of food security impact, CARE must have the ability to monitor nutrition, determine which underlying determinants [5] are driving malnutrition.
2. Moderate Acute Nutrition; The scale of CARE’s operations as well as the links to robust supply chain management mean that CARE is well placed to address moderate malnutrition – a less technical but more pervasive problem than severe acute malnutrition. With increasing calls for reforms of traditional interventions to address moderate malnutrition CARE can once again contribute to developing technical innovations.
3. Food Assistance: Cash & Vouchers, Local & Regional Purchase and Food Aid; Where access is driving food insecurity market based interventions represent a highly effective and appropriate response to acute hunger which is gaining increasing acceptance. Where Availability and Market failures are driving food insecurity, food aid remains an appropriate and effective response. In these critical situations, where a market-based response carries a very real risk of exacerbating food insecurity, a food aid response is vital. The increasing use of local and regional purchase of food aid is a trend that CARE advocates and an opportunity that we need to be able to capitalize on.
4. Market-based interventions to protect long-term Livelihoods; Concerns about the impact of emergency interventions on long-term livelihoods and the potential to cause dependence can be effectively mitigated by building on, and strengthening, existing livelihoods through sound analysis and market-based interventions that can deliver an effective and appropriate response that recognizes and upholds peoples right to determine their own livelihoods.

Reduce Vulnerability: Since food security crises typically have their roots in chronic vulnerability, CARE must proactively protect livelihoods in order to reduce the impact of future disasters:
- Reduce short-term risk by Integrating Disaster Risk Management into both emergency and development systems. Long Range Strategic Plans and the Program shift will be key to integration; strategic alliances and practical examples of the linkages between emergency food insecurity and longer term programming will be needed to support this integration.
- Mitigate immediate impact of a hazard by adapting CARE's systems to slow onset emergencies.
CARE’s emergency systems are currently based on an implicit assumption that emergencies are rapid onset[6]. Yet food security crises are seldom discrete events, they have their roots in chronic vulnerability, and are therefore often slow onset emergencies. Food Security specific contingency planning process will need to be developed with clear protocols and linkages to EPP, Hotspots, Response Strategies and Emergency Alerts in order to adapt CARE’s systems to slow onset emergencies
- Ensure Emergency Responses build upon and link to CARE’s longer term food security programming. CARE’s emergency food security interventions will need to link with all three core elements outlined in the Agenda for Action. Links with Social Protection will be a priority, but longer term value chain and micro-finance work will also need to be integrated.

Question 1.1: Is it vital and viable for CARE to have the capability to undertake cross-cutting analysis and to program in the three key sectors (Food Assistance, Nutrition & Markets)?
Question 1.2: Is it critical for CARE to focus resources on proactively reducing vulnerability in order to reduce the impact of future disasters?


GOAL: Within CARE’s broader Food Security Strategy the goal of CARE’s humanitarian food security interventions is to protect lives and livelihoods by ensuring that sound analysis informs early, appropriate and effective responses that are coordinated and coherent with other agencies and link to longer term programming, and support policy and advocacy that address acute hunger and vulnerability.

Question 2.1: Are any of the objectives or activities outlined below either not critical to achieving the goal and should therefore be removed, or are there any additional objectives or activities that are critical to achieving the goal and should therefore be added?

1. GLOBAL: Contribute to the evolution of the global humanitarian food security architecture to address acute hunger and vulnerability.
1.1. Build upon CARE’s “Living on the Edge” initiative to strengthen linkages between CARE’s Operations and Global Advocacy in order to support the ongoing reform of funding mechanisms.
1.1.1. Demonstrate the impact of funding early action in order to support the establishment of a new funding mechanism that bridges relief and development.
1.1.2. Strengthen CARE’s strategic engagement with humanitarian donors by demonstrating the impact of more appropriate humanitarian responses, and supporting their application.
1.2. Support sector-wide initiatives that put into practice a coherent approach to understanding and coordinated responses to addressing acute hunger and vulnerability.
1.2.1. Support the establishment and operation of a global food security coordination mechanism
1.2.2. Provide global leadership to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification
1.2.3. Lead the Revision of Sphere’s Food Aid Standards

2. ORGANIZATIONAL: Improve CARE’s capabilities to implement early, appropriate and effective food security interventions before, during and after times of crisis.
2.1. Improve CARE’s analytical capacity to design and trigger appropriate responses to acute hunger and vulnerability.
2.1.1. Integrate Food Security specific Contingency Planning into CARE’s EPP and longer-term programming systems to reduce vulnerability.
2.1.2. Strengthen existing capacity to monitor and analyze Markets & Livelihoods (using CSI & MIFIRA) and Nutrition & Public Health.
2.1.3. Strengthen CARE’s systems for monitoring and evaluation of the impact of interventions to address acute hunger.
2.2. Develop CARE’s capacity to implement early response & recovery interventions which reduce vulnerability.
2.2.1. Adapt CARE’s current Emergency protocols to support early warning of & response to slow onset emergencies
2.2.2. Strengthen capacities to implement market-based early response & recovery interventions
2.2.3. Strengthen capacities to implement public health mitigation interventions.
2.3. Consolidate CARE’s existing capacity to implement effective food assistance & nutrition interventions that address acute hunger
2.3.1. Realign CARE’s food assistance programming & food aid management functions
2.3.2. Strengthen capacities in; food assistance, food aid management & local/regional purchase.
2.3.3. Support improved program quality, through program oversight of food assistance operations (WFP & FFP).
2.3.4. Strengthen CARE’s existing capacity to address Moderate Malnutrition.
2.4. Develop Strategic Partnerships to support a portfolio of interventions
2.4.1. Develop a global technical partnership to support nutrition monitoring & addressing moderate malnutrition.
2.4.2. Develop strategic partnerships to support a parallel food assistance pipeline.
2.4.3. Develop strategic partnerships to support improved analysis.

3. OPERATIONAL: Support high-risk Country Offices and emergency responses globally to implement an impactful portfolio of food security interventions.
3.1. Provide on-going support to high-risk Country Offices to reduce vulnerability.
3.1.1. Support the development of Programs that reduce vulnerability and risk.
3.1.2. Link Country programming to global learning, media and advocacy.
3.1.3. Actively support and strengthen coordination mechanisms, national institutions & local agencies
3.2. Provide direct support to Emergency Responses globally to address acute hunger.
3.2.1. Support Food Security Specific Contingency Planning in response to early warning.
3.2.2. Support program design, monitoring and evaluation in Emergency Responses globally.
3.2.3. Develop a cadre of internal and external food security experts that can be deployed to support emergency responses globally.
3.3. Address issues of Gender & Protection to reduce vulnerability.
3.3.1. Ensure accountability mechanisms are rigorously applied.
3.3.2. Increase representation of women at all levels of CARE’s operations.
3.3.3. Address complex gender issues through Country Food Security Strategies


Phase 1 (FY 2009): Strategy Development The final 6 months of FY 2009 will focus on finalizing the Humanitarian Food Security Strategy and develop a detailed funding plan through broad consultation across the CARE Federation, as well as the realignment of CARE’s food assistance programming & food aid management functions (objective 2.3.1) and global leadership for the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) (objective 1.2.2).
· Additional investment will be requested in 2010 to support food aid management as a result of the proposed realignment of food assistance programming & food aid management functions (objective 2.3.1) in FY 2009.

Phase 2 (FY 2010): Initial Implementation will prioritize food assistance and nutrition objectives and activities designed to address acute hunger (objective 2.3 & associated analytical work in objective 2.1) through an on-going engagement with a handful of high risk Country Offices (objective 3.1) that already have a focus on food assistance and nutrition – this is designed to ensure that organization policy is informed by the realities of CARE’s operations. There will also be selective engagement with Global Policy/Advocacy and limited direct support to emergency responses globally which will therefore mean that the establishment of a functional cadre of experts is a high priority (Objective 3.2.3)
· It is proposed that this engagement with high risk Country Offices includes financial support for a percentage of CO’s existing Food Security specialist, which would enable these CO specialists to undertake specific components of this strategy.
· Investments will need to be made in developing analytical capacity – for which restricted funding will be sought.
· Bridge funding may also be required to support an IPC focal point position which is funded by ECHO.

Phase 3 (2011/12): Comprehensive Implementation will continue to work on food assistance and nutrition but will also focus on:
- Early response and recovery
- A greater engagement with global policy and advocacy
- On-going support to a larger number of high-risk Country Offices
- More comprehensive and longer-term support for emergency responses globally
- Integration of gender & protection

Questions 3.1: Is it appropriate for the initial implementation (phase 2) to prioritize food assistance and nutrition objectives by working with a handful of high risk countries, while providing limited support for broader global advocacy and emergency responses?
Question 3.2: It additional capacity required to provide direct emergency response support?

[1] Missing the Point: An Analysis of Food Security Interventions, ODI Network Paper 47 & HPN Good Practice Review #10: Emergency Food Security Interventions.
[2] National Vulnerability Assessment Committees in Southern Africa are complemented by FEWS reports.
[3] Food Distribution, Supplementary Feed and Seeds & Tools.
[4] In 2006 CARE had WFP general food distribution in 7 Countries, and Health interventions in 6.
[5] Based on UNICEF’s model of malnutrition the underlying causes of malnutrition are: food security, maternal & child care, public health
[6] The first indicator of Outcome 1 in the performance metrics of CARE’s Emergency Strategy is: “Decisions on rapid onset emergencies are made & communicated throughout CI within 24 hours”.