An assessment of the integration of food security and disaster risk reduction policies : a case from South Africa
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Disasters have historically had a devastating effect on efforts to achieve food security, globally, regionally (Africa) and locally (South Africa). Therefore, the central motivation of this study was to determine the degree of integration between food security and disaster risk reduction policy areas as a crucial first step in addressing the impact of disasters on food security. The idea of policy integration between disaster risk reduction and food security has been advocated and promoted by most influential international organisations, which includes World Food Programme, IFARD, Food Agricultural Organisations (FAO), as well as governments, academia, and Civil Society groups. The study worked from the rational that South Africa as a country is facing recurrent disasters that are adversely affecting the nation’s food security through devastating impacts on the agricultural sector. As such policy integration between DRR and food security policies will be of great importance to solve this problem. However, through a cursory literature review it surfaced that, disaster risk reduction has not always been integrated in the development initiatives that deals with food security and the result of ignoring the interdependencies between these discourses have caused sub-optimisation problems where by the desired outcome of a safe and food secure nation is being hampered. The study therefore focused on identifying the current policy gaps in integration and possible areas of synergy between policies that addresses food security and disaster risk reduction in South Africa. This process was done through policy analysis among policies and programmes that addresses food security and DRR internationally and in South Africa. A qualitative research design was followed with the use of semi-structured interviews as the primary data collection tool applied to interviews with policy makers within these two policy areas. Policy makers where purposefully sampled from officials that work with policy development for food security and DRR within the National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC). The literature review and empirical research conducted in the study found that, the developmental policy areas of disaster risk reduction and food security in South Africa are mostly working in parallel or are sometimes treated as separate developmental issues, thereby leaving the problem of food security unresolved. A very specific issue that emerged from the study is that very often policy documents which includes (IFSS, ZHP, FSNP, DMA and NDMF) in both areas would allude to either the impact of disasters on food security, or the need to integrate DRR into related developmental projects. However, this initial identification of integrated policy concerns are not translated into guidance on concrete policy integration interventions between the two areas. The study also found that the lack of clear policy direction to drive the policy integration process, is amplified due to institutional mechanism (i.e. forums and committees) that are intended to facilitate the coordinated governance and policy formulation between the areas, are functioning sub-optimally or are not ensuring the involvement of crucial stakeholders for the integration process. Another crucial aspect discovered to be hindering policy integration between the two areas was found to be related resource and power dynamics between government departments. To this end, respondents identified that integration efforts between the two policy areas is hampered due to a fear by officials that if policies are integrated, they could lose their jobs, financial or human resources. The study finds that going forward DAFF and the NDMC should develop integrated plans that are cross-cutting and integrated thus avoiding duplication of work and waste of resources. It should also be considered that, though DRR and food security come from different backgrounds, they share the overarching objective to improve the well-being of people in South Africa. Consequently, policy integration should be prioritised.