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Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response

4. Food security

Food security responses should aim to meet short-term needs, ‘do no harm’, reduce the need for the affected population to adopt potentially damaging coping strategies and contribute to restoring longer-term food security.

An accurate assessment examines the appropriateness and feasibility of the potential response options (see Food security and nutrition assessment standard 1). The food security responses in this section are grouped into standards for general food security, food transfers, cash and voucher transfers, and livelihoods responses.

If food is required, the appropriate form of transfer should be considered and the food basket carefully chosen for both in-kind and voucher transfers. Livelihood responses include primary production, income and employment, and access to market goods and services.

Cash and voucher transfers may be used for a range of goods or services in food security, as well as for other sectors. Understanding the market capacity and the appropriate modality for delivery is critical to designing food security interventions.

Food security standards consider the resources to meet the food needs of both the general population and specific vulnerable people at increased nutritional risk. Until these needs are met, any response aimed at the treatment of malnutrition will have a limited impact since those who recover from malnutrition will return to a context of inadequate food intake and their nutritional status is likely to deteriorate again.

Targeting, delivery and distribution methods should reduce the risk of inclusion and exclusion errors. This includes the risk that food, cash or other assistance is misappropriated by combatants. It is important that food security interventions are not diverted to worsen conflicts.