Plan-REFUGE aspires to understand and mitigate food inequities experienced by small-holder farmers in the Global South. Using a transdisciplinary approach we investigate how small-holder farmers in the Global South adapt their daily living practices in the face of a number of challenges including globalization and climate change. Lessons from on-the-ground experiences are used to inform purposeful community development and planning strategies. The project ensures a Global South to Global South learning exchange as well as capacity building of policy makers both locally and globally through publications and trainings. Plan-REFUGE is a collaborative effort that aims to have multiple study countries including India.
In 2015, Dr. Samina Raja was invited by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to join an expert working group convened by the UN Habitat for the development of an action-oriented document intended to drive sustainable urban development. This New Urban Agenda was adopted at the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in Quito, Ecuador, on 20 October 2016. At Habitat III, a team of UB students, staff, and faculty, as well as partners including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, led a workshop on planning for food systems in urban settlements.
Following Habitat III, UB developed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with FAO to understand and develop a model for food systems planning in Global South countries. To this end, Dr. Raja launched a project that outlined food systems policies in communities in India, Jamaica, and Ghana, and developed a model to conduct a food systems plan in Global South countries. The team shared its results via in-person trainings and webinars.
The work culminated in a FAO report “Local Government Planning for Community Food Systems” published in 2021.
"Local Government Planning for Community Food Systems" was co-produced by researchers and community partners in the case study countries, along with authors Samina Raja, Erin Sweeney, Yeeli Mui and Emmanuel Frimpong Boamah of UB’s Community for Global Health Equity and the UB Food Lab. It includes contributions from 10 students and six community partners from Ghana, Jamaica and India. The report, which centers the experiences of smallholder farmers in low- and middle-income countries, "reinforces the critical role of community food systems for broader social transformation in cities and regions,” states Dr. Raja, Co-Director for the Community for Global Health Equity. "These farmers are responsible for growing food for the world, yet they are often the most food insecure." FAO directors Anna Lartey and Vimlendra Sharan note that “This publication invites us to rethink food systems and supply chains through the lens of a ‘community,’ as a reminder that people and their everyday practices and relationships with food are central to the design of these processes.”
This free webinar series highlights some of the ways by which local and regional governments interface with communities' food systems. This webinar series draws on research from multiple countries, including Ghana, Jamaica, and India.
The series is hosted by the Community for Global Health Equity and the Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab at the University at Buffalo, with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.