The nexus between food and nutrition security, and migration: Clarifying the debate and charting a way forward
Migration is fast becoming a key topic in development cooperation. International development efforts, especially in Europe, are increasingly directed towards addressing the ‘root causes of migration’ in an attempt to curb flows from Africa. In this context, particular attention has been given to the relationship between food security and migration. However, an overly simplistic interpretation of this nexus – i.e. investing in agriculture and rural development will significantly reduce migration from rural areas – risks instrumentalising development cooperation for ‘securitarian’ purposes instead of pursuing genuine objectives for food and nutrition security (FNS) and rural development.
Politicians and donors often have a simplistic interpretation of the nexus between food security and migration assuming that investment in agriculture and rural development will automatically curb migration. This is not the case. We need a new narrative on the development benefits of migration for food and nutrition security (FNS); a more nuanced understanding of ‘drivers of migration’; a ‘Knowledge Agenda’ to provide more evidence on the nexus.
Adopting a development approach means increasing the options available to individuals to allow them to pursue better agricultural, rural or urban livelihood opportunities, with safe and regular migration as one of those options. Complex migration dynamics should be mainstreamed into food and nutrition security strategies and initiatives. Donors, starting with the G7, should support transformative actions around the FNS-migration nexus in Africa, with a particular focus on women, nutrition, climate change and environmental sustainability.
Priority should be given to policies and actions that acknowledge human mobility as a pillar of sustainable food systems and inclusive territorial development. Special attention should be given to: smallholder farmers and small service providers; support for mobility of all food system players along better integrated urban-rural territories and (regional) food economies; large investments in infrastructure, especially digital and financial; inclusive governance arrangements centred on local authorities and organisations.