Sustainable Food Systems in northern Ghana: Assessing the influence of International Development
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The concept of sustainable food systems gained prominence in the food security discourse as evidence from the 2007-2008 and 2010 world food and financial crisis suggested that food systems were under stress. The concept calls for a move from the production centered notion of food security towards a more socially and ecologically sensitive notion which is interested in addressing a complex array of problems that have rendered the food system ineffective. Given the continued prevalence of poverty and food insecurity in northern Ghana, this study assesses the attempts of international development agencies to improve food security in the region using the notion of sustainable food systems as the assessment criteria. Through triangulation, the study uses a combination of qualitative interview data and documentary analysis to answer the research questions. Various discourses of sustainability and concepts are used to deepen the understanding of the concept, leading to the identification of eight practical goals towards achieving sustainable food systems. Using the practical goals of achieving sustainable food systems as the assessment criteria, the study reveals that the food system in northern Ghana is unsustainable due to three categories of impediments (natural, cultural and economic, and institutional). The assessment of the World Food Programme development assistance in northern Ghana shows that international development operations remain ineffective in addressing the impediments to achieving sustainable food systems in the region. WFP’s interventions failed to achieve its potential due to institutional inefficiencies of the agency and its partners. The study contributes to development policy and practice in northern Ghana by establishing the need for development partners to improve institutional efficiency and coordination, empower marginalized groups to access their rights, and prioritize agricultural irrigation in the region.