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Launch of Food Safety Portal
Poverty and chronic malnutrition severely constrain economic growth in Central America. In Guatemala 54.3% of the population lives in poverty [1] and 45.6% of children are chronically malnourished. [2]This level of chronic malnutrition in young children is the highest in the region and the fourth highest in the world.
In his address to authorities and officials representing the public, private, academia, civil society and donors at the international workshop "Advancing the Agenda for Food and Nutrition Security in the countries of Central America," Dr. Maximo Torero , Director, Division of Markets, Trade and Institutions IFPRI said that a comprehensive approach that includes all sectors of the economy and the public, private sector and civil society to improve food and nutrition security is necessary. He also indicated that any approach must understand the differences between the countries of the region and the need to integrate their policies. The workshop held on 10 and September 11, 2014, he helped define bottlenecks and technical constraints, priorities and formulate action plans for the advancement of food security in the country and the region. The workshop was a joint effort of the Central American Integration System (SICA), the Central American Agricultural Council, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International Research Center (IFPRI).
As part of the achievements of this international workshop, it has been able to formulate an action plan 2015-2016 which was presented to the different sectors of the three countries. This Portal for Food Safety (PSA) Central American and Caribbean (CAC) is a tool to support this plan that integrates the priorities identified at the workshop. The portal will strengthen the capacity of the region for research and policy analysis for improving food security through networking among the countries of Central America and the Caribbean, in collaboration with the Central American Integration System (SICA) particularly in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
The PSA-CAC serve as a source of relevant indicators of food and nutritional security, early warning indicators, media articles, research on food security and price information and market volatility. The portal will serve as a meeting point for researchers, political decision makers, development planners and the general public, and will be a driving point for virtual discussions on timely topics that will share general information on lessons learned and potential ways to advance .
The PSA-CAC incorporates a comprehensive approach to food security specific to the region and also global issues and trends impacting the region, using the comprehensive definition of food security and nutrition, including food availability, food access, food stability, and consumption and use of food.
Food availability is achieved when sufficient quantities of food are provided by means of production, storage, trade and food aid (FAO 2006), and incorporates the level of climate change and water availability as drivers of food production.
Access to food is achieved when individuals have adequate resources for proper food for a nutritious and safe diet (FAO 2006). Inequality at national level and distribution within households, may prevent individuals have access to adequate food has been achieved although food availability at national level or households (Smith et al. 2003)
Food utilization reflects the ability to use food efficiently so that all physiological needs are achieved through a safe and nutritious diet, availability of drinking water, adequate sanitation and proper health care
Finally, food stability relates to the above elements and refers to the time dimension.In this respect, a key distinction must be made between shocks (transient) and cyclical events (chronic), factors affecting food security (FAO 2006).
It is expected that the platform and related activities achieve a better flow of information between different policy initiatives (public and private) agents in the region. The portal will have a virtual platform for dialogue from May 26 on the subject of migration SAN and children. This is one of the many discussions that have taken as part of the project, and the many more to come.
The goals of PSA-CAC website include:
  • Maintain and continually develop complete free and harmonized indicators of food security for the region that are publicly accessible and
  • Develop and implement quantitative tools to prioritize investments that promote resilience and achieve greater poverty reduction
  • Expand the methodology for monitoring and impact evaluation (M & E) for Central America and the Caribbean using clear and transparent criteria to promote effective policies
  • Increase and maintain the established network of professionals committed to the influence of food security policies, the governments of the three countries (Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala) and represent the general objectives of the food security needs of the region.
It is possible that policies are formulated without evidence or analysis not achieve their goals and can cause situations that foster poverty and food insecurity. Solid evidence and proper tools are required to confront the many challenges to be assumed by policymakers. Only when the development of these tools goes hand in hand with local policy dialogues and lessons learned from regional initiatives, may contribute significantly to improving the ability to identify design and implementation of positive actions that are taking advantage of existing opportunities, mitigate risks food crises.
Food and nutrition security is not just a problem of agricultural, economic or public health sector, is a multisectoral multisectoral problem requiring policies implemented by all stakeholders (private sector, government and civil society) that allow us to promote strategies leading to improved food and nutrition security and economic growth in the region.