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A Human Development and Capability Approach to Food Security: Conceptual Framework and Informational Basis

  • Francesco Burchi

    (Roma Tre University, Via Valco di San Paolo)

  • Pasquale De Muro

    (Roma Tre University, Via Valco di San Paolo)

This paper has a twofold objective: (a) to make a comprehensive review of different approaches to food security; (b) to develop a human development and capability approach to food security following the pioneering works of Amartya Sen and Jean Dréze. To our best knowledge, no paper has yet provided a systematic survey of the major approaches to food security. Starting from the analysis of food production, we highlight the value added provided by the capability approach and the human development paradigm. Then, we propose a methodology of analysis of food security through this approach, entailing three basic steps: (1) analysis of food entitlements; (2) analysis of basic nutritional capabilities; (3) analysis of the capability to be food secure. This way, it is possible to move beyond income-, entitlement-, or livelihoods-related frameworks, and to identify the root causes of food insecurity: food insecurity can be the result of lack of education, health or other basic capabilities that constitute people’s wellbeing. Therefore, it allows to situate the study within the broader topic of wellbeing, agency and freedom. Finally, we briefly discuss the role of food security for human development.

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File URL: http://web.undp.org/africa/knowledge/WP-2012-009-Burchi-De-Muro-capability-approach.pdf
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Paper provided by United Nations Development Programme, Regional Bureau for Africa (UNDP/RBA) in its series Working Papers with number 2012-009.

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Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:rac:wpaper:2012-009
Contact details of provider: Postal: One United Nations Plaza, New York, New York 10017
Web page: http://web.undp.org/africa/

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  1. Sen, Amartya, 1983. "Development: Which Way Now?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 93(372), pages 742-62, December.
  2. Hoddinott, John & Yohannes, Yisehac, 2002. "Dietary diversity as a food security indicator," FCND briefs 136, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  3. Alkire, Sabina, 2002. "Valuing Freedoms: Sen's Capability Approach and Poverty Reduction," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199245796, March.
  4. Ruel, Marie T., 2002. "Is dietary diversity an indicator of food security or dietary quality?," FCND briefs 140, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  5. Burchi, Francesco, 2010. "Child nutrition in Mozambique in 2003: The role of mother's schooling and nutrition knowledge," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 331-345, December.
  6. Martha Nussbaum, 2003. "Capabilities As Fundamental Entitlements: Sen And Social Justice," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(2-3), pages 33-59.
  7. Webb, Patrick & Block, Steven, 2004. "Nutrition Information and Formal Schooling as Inputs to Child Nutrition," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(4), pages 801-20, July.
  8. Maxwell, Simon, 1996. "Food security: a post-modern perspective," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 155-170, May.
  9. Ellis, Frank, 2000. "Rural Livelihoods and Diversity in Developing Countries," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198296966, March.
  10. Amartya Sen, 2004. "Capabilities, Lists, And Public Reason: Continuing The Conversation," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(3), pages 77-80.
  11. Sen, Amartya, 1995. "Inequality Reexamined," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198289289, March.
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