The unprecedented acquisition of land by transnational companies in areas of chronic food insecurity requires a paradigm shift from food security to food sovereignty. Export-based commercial farming operations in these regions are negatively impacting both the well-being of people and the environment. An Ethiopian case study demonstrates how food insecurity has increased as smallholder farmers are displaced and uncompensated, not only affecting household food security but also livelihoods. Adopting food sovereignty as a thematic construct to reevaluate the system facilitates some unique approaches to food insecurity, such as a focus on land reform, local sustainability and local ownership, and highlights continued calls for reformation in governance, regulation of land grabbing and environmental protection.
This opinion paper calls for change in UNHCR practices and is based on experience from the ground where UNHCR conducts refugee and repatriation programs. There are two primary concerns to address:
- Refugees in UNHCR camps cling to the hope of resettling to the United States or other industrialized countries, which prevents them from repatriating to their homes.
- Repatriation programs provide security assistance to returning refugees, but deny assistance to equally impoverished people who have never left. This policy is unjust and creates a dangerous resentment to the returning refugees.
The solutions proposed by this paper are as follows:
- Update refugees regarding the status in their home areas and inform them of the low probabilities of being resettled.
- When assisting refugees in repatriation, the non-refugee members of the repatriation community should receive some benefit–perhaps in the form agricultural or vocational community-based programs.