Despite the growing activism and debate around the right to food in the past decade, there has been little exploration of what the right means in everyday life and in the routine encounters between states and citizens.
This paper draws together original qualitative research in nine African, Asian and Latin American countries on how people talk about the right to food. It does so on the assumption that accountability for hunger depends on people being aware of that right. The paper explores what people at risk of hunger have to say about what the right to food means in their location; its source and origins; and responsibilities for upholding it. It concludes that while ideas of the right to food do not generally use international human rights language, an understanding of innate or natural rights to food is ‘common sense’: shared across contexts and groups, and part of how people negotiate their right to food in everyday life.
Among other findings, the paper concludes that in a period of rapid economic and social development, the right to food of older people looks particularly fragile, and merits special attention.