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What Food Sovereignty offers the Health Policy Landscape: the case of Haiti

Part of:
14:30, Tuesday 9 May 2023 EDT (20 minutes)

Motivation: Governments use the concept of food security to evaluate the availability of and access to sufficient, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food in a specific population. Food justice scholars, however, stress that food production and provisioning, and thus health, are inherently political, resulting from and intertwined with historical, political, and economic forces. In policy, however, these complex dynamics are often siphoned into ministerial silos and treated as separate phenomena (health, gender, land, environment, trade, etc.) Food sovereignty — a concept that addresses the unequal and multi-scalar power relations within the food system— is increasingly being incorporated into national policies, particularly in the global south. Haiti has recently introduced food sovereignty into its policy landscape, but the degree to which this new inter-sectoral approach diverges or coalesces with past policies relating to food security has not been unexplored.

Purpose: How does food sovereignty shape policy in ways that differ from food security? How would a food sovereignty policy address questions of land, gender, health, trade, and agriculture in ways that differ from past policies?

Approach and Methods: We conduct a content analysis of the seven post-2010 Haitian state policies and plans around six meta-themes raised by food sovereignty frameworks to explore how they align and diverge from the recent National Food Sovereignty and Security and Nutrition Policy and Strategy in Haiti.

Findings: Haiti’s food sovereignty policy diverges significantly from previous state policies and plans and is an inter-sectoral and relational document that offers policymakers, academics, and practitioners an opportunity to conceptualize agricultural production, land, health, and trade, as interrelated phenomena that must be addressed in tandem. Food sovereignty and food security policies will have divergent impacts on health.

Policy Implications: Food sovereignty approaches can detail inter-sectoral connections that are often missing from government policies when addressing questions of health, agriculture production, diets, land, and trade. The Haiti example shows how food sovereignty approaches reveal the political and interrelated dynamics of food, health, and nutrition which aid a diversity of state and non-state actors in implementation.

Carleton University
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