International Journal of Agriculture and Food Security

International Journal of Agriculture and Food Security (IJAFS) ISSN 0812-3497, Vol. 10(2), pp. 301-311, April, 2023. © Advanced Scholars Journals

Full length Research paper

A comparative analysis of the four dimensions food security framework from the lens of West African smallholder farmers

Niagia Santuah1* Joseph Abazaami2

1. Faculty of Culture and Development Studies, Millar Institute for Trans-disciplinary and Development Studies, Ghana

2. Institute for Interdisciplinary Research and Consultancy Services, University for Development Studies, Ghana

*Corresponding author’s Email: [email protected]

Accepted 16th January, 2023


The Food and Agriculture Organisation’s definition of food security has inspired the dominant Four Dimensions Food Security Framework (availability, accessibility, utilisation and stability). Whereas some scholars see the framework as a useful tool for assessing food security others see it as inadequate in certain contexts. In order to broaden the evidence base, a comprehensive literature search was conducted to understand the evolution of food security and its frameworks. This was followed by a qualitative study to assess the influence of food security policy on sustainable food systems from the perspective of smallholder farmers in Anglophone and Francophone West Africa using the four dimensions food security framework for the analysis. From the findings smallholder farmers in Ghana and Burkina Faso admit that availability of, and accessibility to food have significantly improved. However, food utilisation has stagnated as diets have deteriorated, and food stability is problematic. In addition, smallholder farmers say they are more concerned about sustaining their food production systems than merely meeting the four dimensions of food security. Sensitivity of food production systems to ecological balance is therefore an underlying driver of food security, which can neither be taken for granted nor subsumed under any of the four dimensions. The study concludes that the four dimensions food security framework is not adequate for assessing the food security of smallholder farmers in the West African Savannah. These findings imply recalibrating the processes for formulating food security policy, implementation, and evaluation of impact. Interested researchers should test the proposed 5-Star (five-dimensions) food security framework in other settings similar to or different from the fragile West African ecological zone to aid theory building.  

Key words: Food security, availability, ecological sensitivity, smallholder farmers, West Africa

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