Pandemic is a crisis that causes a crisis. Like a domino effect, the pandemic is not only a health crisis condition, but it has rolled into a financial crisis, food crisis, political governance crisis, and potentially becomes a social crisis, as India had. Thus, the action to deal with a crisis that causes crisis is a fast action, but should be an accurate one. The food crisis comes out from the pandemic itself is also a systemic crisis because food constructs its own system that is connected to many other systems. The food system encompasses all factors and actors that forming and influencing the production process, distribution networks, and food consumption.
In the pandemic condition, regulating the food system becomes the most crucial action for the state to fulfil the people’s right to food. To regulate the food system, or to be exact: to reconstruct food governance in response to and to overcome the crisis, a quick availability of accurate data is required. Data is an absolute requirement for the state to act. One of the data types needed for a rapid analysis is a spatial data. Spatial data that ought to be available for the state to fulfil, respect and protect people’s right to food at the time of pandemic, are: 1) spatial data on the disease spread status, where the dangerous red zones are, and where the green zones that are still safe; 2) spatial data on areas with a surplus and minus food production; 3) spatial data of hunger-prone, both those that has existed before the pandemic and those that emerged after the pandemic.
These three spatial data, if overlayed, will produce at least some following important conclusions: 1) how to build a logistics route from a hunger-prone location that requires the food supply with the nearest food supply location, 2) the location of the food supply that is still safe and the location of the food supply that enters danger zones which then to be decided to apply social restrictions, 3) logistical routes that need to be maintained to ensure the smoothness of food supply from urban locations that experience social distancing and destruction (PSBB), but do not have the nearest food source, thus requiring shipping routes via sea routes and airlines. All of these conclusions are under the assumption that: the country could have sufficient food stock because export food production is diverted into food for domestic consumption. In other words, this is the most appropriate momentum to concretely realize food sovereignty. There was no other way, because Yuli, a women worker in Serang, had died due to starvation, leaving four children who were also starving. The refusal of Yuli’s head of RT (neighbourhood) for food aid request because there has been no support from the government can no longer be accepted as normalcy, but as an indication of human rights violations by the state. Many other Yuli maybe detected in this pandemic country. Yuli’s death due to starving – not because of illness – in the midst of the pandemic is no longer a sign of a crisis, but it is a food crisis, and the state has neglected iya obligation to fulfil peoples’ right to food and nutrition. The state needs to reorganize the production chain and food distribution, to ensure food from producers reach the consumers without relying on normal market mechanisms. Even less the global market!
The front guard of this pandemic situation, therefore, is the smallest unit of government, i.e. rural and urban villages. If medics are no longer possible to work as ‘business as usual’, then similar with the front guard of government officials. Accurate data is in the hands of the willingness of rural and urban villages to become “hero of COVID-19” by establishing a reliable data base system, at least consists of: residents who are potentially unable to access food, data on the volume and types of food production and distribution routes. Then, it is important for the rural and urban village officials to determine the category of their villages, whether it is a food producer village or not. If it is a food producer village, then inter-village coordination within the sub-district, or even inter-sub-district coordination to build a food logistics route become the first emergency action that needs to be done. Physical and social distances still become the code of conduct in creating local food logistics routes that are initiated at the sub-district and district scale. At the provincial level, the data from the village level is used to identify inter-district food comsumption needs, and the province prepares inter-district logistics routes. At the very least, if the local logistical route that connecting inter-regional food from producers to consumers is created up to the provincial level, then the food crisis could be overcome by starting at the local level. Therefore, there is no district and provincial government bureau can act like a business as usual, because the same attitude conveys the same meaning as a health worker refusing to deal with Covid-19 positive patients and resigning as a civil servant, as happened in Banten.
This is a scenario offered to reject the Data Crisis State. Because data crisis is the base of state‘s crime for unabling fulfilment of people’s rights. There is only one prerequisite needed to enact this scenario, namely: isolate the data from the politics of interests and political interests. The politicization of data, at this moment, can be equivalent to crimes against humanity because it is very possible to lead to a mass death.
Thus, this article does not discuss the existence of thousands of citizen initiatives, because it was created not by the state to realize its obligation to fulfil the right to food. But, this article is intended to show that the state has consequences for crimes against humanity if there are hunger citizens in the middle of the pandemic, or even in the situations without a pandemic. Because hunger is not a new normal, moreover an old normal.
Laksmi A. Savitri
Head of National Council of FIAN Indonesia