DECEMBER 14, 2013
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About the Authors:
Wendy Wolford is the Robert A. and Ruth E. Polson Professor of Development Sociology at Cornell University. She received a BA in Economics and International Development from McGill University and MS and PhD in Geography from University of California at Berkeley. She joined the faculty at Cornell in 2010, and in 2012, she became Faculty Director for Economic Development programs in Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. Dr. Wolford’s work draws upon and contributes to political economies of development, social movements and resistance, agrarian societies, political ecology, land use, land reform, and critical ethnography, all with a regional concentration in Latin America, particularly Brazil. For over 15 years, she has worked with one of the most important grassroots social movements in Latin American history, the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (the Movement of Rural Landless Workers, or the MST).
Marygold Walsh-Dilley is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Development Sociology at Cornell University. She holds a BA in International and Comparative Policy Studies from Reed College, and an MS in Applied Economics and Management and a PhD in Development Sociology from Cornell University. Her research focuses on the political economy of rural development, peasant and indigenous farming systems, and the lived experiences and local negotiations of global social and agrarian change, primarily in the Bolivian Andes.
Social Mobilization and Food Security: The Contribution of Organized Civil Society to Hunger Reduction Policies
in Latin America
The work of Dr. Pinstrup-Andersen has done much to raise awareness about the importance of government policy for addressing hunger and ensuring the mechanisms through which food is adequately distributed. This work emphasizes that hunger eradication is not simply a matter of increasing food supply; markets and government interventions are critical for getting food into the mouths of the most vulnerable and insecure. Building on this work, this chapter argues for an expansion of the state concept to include state-society relations; this expansion will allow for recognition of the important role social movements and civil society organizations play in building good governance systems for food security. Society groups play an important role at multiple stages of food security policy: in generating political will and larger stakeholder buy-in; in formulating policies, programs and plans; and in implementing or overseeing concrete strategies to address hunger and malnutrition. This chapter compares hunger and malnutrition programs in four Latin American countries. We argue that high levels of commitment to food security and hunger reduction in the region are due, in part, to high levels of social mobilization beginning with the widespread protests against neoliberal economic policy in the 1990s that ushered in a wave of leftist governments—the so-called “pink tide.” These governments have been attentive to historic inequalities and poverty and they have prioritized food security as a means of redress; indeed, there is now widespread acknowledgement of the right to food in Latin American legal frameworks and constitutions. But, this nod to food security is not enough; political commitment to ending hunger requires concrete actions, and sustainable and effective programs. By comparing hunger and malnutrition programming in four Latin American countries, the significance of state-society relations become evident. We find that the instances where civil society organizations and movements are incorporated as central contributors to framing, formulation, and policy implementation, program deployment is more likely to succeed and remain sustainable.
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