The fight against poverty and food insecurity has been the key development agenda of the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar (RGoZ) over the years. The Government has given high priority to addressing food security and nutrition challenges with objectives of ensuring food security and nutrition for all, increase the capacity of our country in response to the volatility of food shortages and famine and enhance the capacity of the people, especially the low income to get enough to eat. In this regard, the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar has put in place policies and legal frameworks to guide the attainment of its objectives, and these include: Zanzibar Development Vision 2020; Zanzibar Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (ZSGRP II), the Food Security and Nutrition Policy (2008) and the Zanzibar Food Security and Nutrition (ZFSN) Act (2011). Zanzibar Development Vision 2020 articulates a long-term focus on attaining sustainable human development with a specific objective to reduce the number of people below the food poverty in the isles. The ZSGRP II mainstreamed food security and nutrition issues with clear operational targets of attaining food security and nutrition for all. Similarly, Zanzibar Food Security and Nutrition policy provides the overall policy framework for attaining food security and improved nutrition at national, household and individual levels. The policy goals and objectives refer to equitable food access at all times and to special protection for resource-poor and vulnerable groups. Policy implementation principles point to a commitment to the realization of the right to food, which is linked to international law obligations. These principles include: (i) full respect for human dignity and the rule of law; (ii) accountability of public institutions for performance and use of public resources; (iii) non-discrimination, (iv) transparency in decision making; (v) equitable outcomes of policy actions; and (vi) effective and equal participation and empowerment of all.

The Zanzibar Food Security and Nutrition Act of 2011 provides a legal basis for multi-sectoral collaboration in planning and implementing food security and nutrition related interventions. Multi-sectoral collaboration is highly emphasised to avoid duplication of efforts, to help align resources with national priorities and needs and as well as to create synergy between different sector programmes and projects.

The most salient points in the Act are:

  • Government’s obligations to ensure the enjoyment of the right to food for each citizen are recognized;
  • Equity in assigning resources by prioritizing food insecure and marginalized people is mandated;
  • Discrimination or exclusion on any ground is prohibited;
  • The National Food Security and Nutrition Council is established with responsibility to monitor the realization of the right to food;
  • The responsibilities of relevant actors and national, district and community levels are specified;
  • Sanctions are imposed on heads of household who while having adequate resources do not provide adequate food for the household;
  • Establishes the Zanzibar Food Reserve as an emergency response to protect vulnerable population groups from hunger in emergencies or when shocks occur.