20 | Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) Report


Box 1-2. continued

consumers, workshops, cooking classes and more. These activities promote citizen ownership of the basic human right to food security (guaranteed under the UN Charter, among other international agreements) and to teach fundamental principles of nutrition to those who might not otherwise have received it. This is an especially important component in a world climate where increasing wealth is leading to obesity and nutrientpoor, high calorie diets in not just the global North, but also in other countries that are simultaneously dealing with persistent
under- and mal-nutrition among their populations.

          It’s important to note that these are only some of the most prominent programs, and that all of the food security secretariat’s programs in Belo Horizonte comprise less than 2% of the city’s annual budget, at approximately US$7 million dollars per year—and even given the current level of success, there is ample opportunity to expand the omprehensiveness and size of the programs. Although SMAAB’s uccesses are not to be taken as a direct blueprint for cities the world over, one can draw at the very least cautious hope from their example: a municipal government program cooperating across traditional health/nutrition and city/countryside boundaries, while supporting local and organic food, small-scale farmers, addressing childhood and adult malnutrition and hunger, access to food, and nutritional education, under a modest budget in a large city in the global South. From this example, we must be open to the wondrous idea that food security and small, family-farmer based rural sustainability may be mutually reinforcing, given sufficient and appropriate efforts across the many traditional borders we find between the two principles.

equitably and sustainably (Vía Campesina, 2003). The concept of food sovereignty has come about as a reaction to the definition of food security, which promotes the notion that everyone should have food, but doesn’t specify where it will come from, or who will produce it, allowing control of food by large multinational companies, which may contribute to creating more dependency, poverty and marginalization. Vía Campesina also supports the concept of food as a right (see Box 1-3). The concept of food sovereignty places emphasis on local autonomy, local markets and community action. It is a process of popular resistance in the context of social movements (Grain, 2005; Niéleny, 2007).

          The local space is accorded first priority because it is there that sovereignty takes on its essential meaning. It is in the spaces where the local communities create autonomy based on their own needs, beliefs and time frames. They are the custodians of thousands of years of research and creation, as a result of which their agriculture is based on biodiversity, in contrast to industrial agriculture, which fosters monoculture and only develops certain species, which are often not those grown and consumed by the local popula


tions (Grain, 2005). Food sovereignty has a broader dimension, since it incorporates issues such as agrarian reform, territorial control, local markets, biodiversity, autonomy, cooperation, debt and health, all of which have to do with local food production. Advocates of the concept of food sovereignty argue that to attain a world without hunger one must place the communities center stage (Grain, 2005).

The Pesticide Action Network-Latin America (RAP-AL, 2007) adds that food sovereignty also has to do with the agricultural production system, since agriculture that depends on imported seed and chemical inputs does not allow for food sovereignty. This is why they support agroecological alternatives.
          For civil society, food sovereignty, as a different paradigm, is needed to ensure that the developing countries can attain food security, rural employment and the goals of sustainable development. For the developing countries, food sovereignty encompasses the demand that the World Trade
Organization (WTO) put an end to its control over food and agriculture. Food sovereignty basically recognizes that small farmers and landless peasants will never be able to compete in the entrepreneurial agricultural paradigm (Desmarais, 2002; Glipo, 2003; Rosset, 2006). To the extent that food sovereignty incorporates fundamental aspects of economic equity, agrarian reform, women’s rights and the rights of small farmers, it has become a broader platform for those seeking fundamental changes in the national and world order (Glipo, 2003) and represents the paradigm that is an alternative to market fundamentalism.

1.5.3 Economic context
It is generally accepted that economic growth can contribute to fighting poverty (Adelman and Morris, 1973; Dollar and Kraay, 2000). World Bank reports (2006a) indicate that for every 1% of economic growth, poverty declines by 1.25%. Nonetheless, in Latin America and the Caribbean, economic growth has not been accompanied by a significant and lasting reduction in poverty and inequality (Fajnzylber, 1990; Korzeniewicz and Smith, 2000). At the same
time, poverty has a negative and very significant effect on economic growth. On average, a 10% increase in poverty reduces annual growth 1% (World Bank, 2006a).

          As mentioned above, Latin America and the Caribbean is the region with the highest levels of inequality in the world (Ferranti et al., 2004). The wealthiest 10% of the population receives 48% of total income, while the poorest 10% receives only 1.6%. In the industrialized countries, the wealthiest 10% receives 29.1% of the income, while the poorest 10% receives 2.5%.
          A comparison among regions within countries reveals stark differences in levels of prosperity. In 2000, the per capita income of the poorest district in Brazil was only 10% that of the wealthiest district; in the case of Mexico, per capita income in Chiapas was only 18% of per capita income in Mexico City. Regional differences account for more than 20% of inequality in Paraguay and Peru and more than 10% in the Dominican Republic and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. In Bolivia, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay and Peru, the differences in the levels of poverty between different regions is more than 40%.