Zero Hunger or in Spanish, Hambre Cero, is a government programme in Nicaragua designed to secure the right to food through self-sustainable production in rural areas. This programme was set up in 2007 by President Ortega and his Sandinista administration, following similar initiatives to that in Brazil. The current aim of the Nicaraguan programme is to secure 100,000 rural women with the productive parcel (bono productive) which consists of a mixture of livestock, seeds and farming materials which together allow the recipients to practice sustainable farming. The parcel is distributed to women in families with an intention of empowerment.

Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) requires government programmes to facilitate production, conservation and distribution of food. In this sense Hambre Cero falls directly within the requirements of the right to food. Yet, my own field research on this topic suggests that the right to food is not so easy to achieve.

Indeed, through interviews and other research I identified four main obstacles which hinder the implementation of the right, namely: politicisation; the character of the state; little change in access to food and the lack of an official claim’s process. It became clear that as the right to food in this instance is being administered through the state, it also takes on the many problems associated with the character of the state in Nicaragua such as political bias, corruption and inefficiency.

Furthermore, a right to food administered by the state is a difficult issue to contemplate as it turns a right on its head. A right is usually characterised as an individual entity. However, a right protected through state programme no longer has the quality of an individual guarantee, and neither does it have the empowering or assertive quality of a claim. As such the problems of understanding the right to food through Hambre Cero are complex in terms of the implementation of the programme, the character of the programme and the Article 11 right itself.

(More on my research in Nicaragua to follow).

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