The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and debate policy. FAO is also a source of knowledge and information. It helps developing countries and countries in transition to modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices and ensure good nutrition for all. Since our founding in 1945, we have focused special attention on developing rural areas, home to 70 percent of the world`s poor and hungry people. Our three Global Goals are:
- Eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition, progressively ensuring a world in which people at all times have sufficient safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life;
- Elimination of poverty and the driving forward of economic and social progress for all, with increased food production, enhanced rural development and sustainable livelihoods; and
- Sustainable management and utilization of natural resources, including land, water, air, climate and genetic resources for the benefit of present and future generations.
To defeat hunger, FAO serves its member countries, particularly those affected by disasters, to improve sustainable agriculture, livestock, forestry, aquaculture, fisheries and natural resource management.
Disaster Reduction Goal
FAO’s five Strategic Objectives represent the main areas of work on which FAO concentrates its efforts in striving to achieve its vision and global goals. Among these priorities is FAO’s Strategic Objective to increase the resilience of livelihoods to threats and crises affecting agricultural sectors, food and nutrition security. FAO’s approach to disaster risk reduction (DRR) is embedded in FAO’s work on resilience, sustainable development (including links with climate change adaptation) and humanitarian assistance. This includes to developing, protecting and restoring sustainable livelihoods so that the integrity of societies that depend on farming, livestock, fish, forests and other natural resources is not threatened by crises. It uses a “twin-track” approach: on the one hand, taking immediate steps to protect and support agriculture, food and nutrition, and on the other addressing the longer term and underlying factors driving risks, disasters and crises. FAO Strategic Programme on Resilience covers action taken across four mutually reinforcing areas:
- Govern crisis and disaster risk;
- Monitor crisis and disaster risk with early warnings;
- Reduce community vulnerability to crises and disaster risk; and
- Prepare for and respond to crises and disasters.
FAO resilience work feeds into global processes such as the Sendai Framework, the One Health approach, and the Committee on World Food Security's Framework for Action for Food Security and Nutrition in Protracted Crises (FFA).
Policies and Programmes in DRR
FAO has consolidated its DRR work under the Strategic Programme on Resilience, namely “Increasing the resilience of livelihoods to threats and crises, through which FAO provides support to member countries in the implementation of DRR measures across the agricultural-related sectors in line with the Sendai Framework and its four priority areas. FAO assists countries to increase the resilience of households, communities and institutions to more effectively prevent and cope with threats and disasters that impact agriculture, food security and nutrition- focusing on three major areas:
- natural hazards and related disasters such as floods, droughts and earthquakes
- food chain threats caused by plant pests and diseases and animal diseases, as well as food safety threats such as radio nuclear contamination or avian flu
- conflicts and protracted crises.
FAO’s Strategic Programme on Resilience promotes an inter-disciplinary and programmatic approach to DRR for food and nutrition security addressing along our four key areas:
1. Legal, policy and institutional systems and regulatory frameworks for risk reduction and crisis management in agriculture sectors
Institutional strengthening and good governance on DRR in agriculture, fisheries, livestock, forestry and natural resources is an important area of work within FAO that promotes political commitment and supports with the resources required by member states to translate these into actionable results. Although the specific type of support provided by FAO varies across countries and depends on national needs, priorities and capacities, below are some options for capacity development, grouped under two sub-themes:
i. Institutional, legal and policy frameworks on disaster risk reduction and management (DRR/M) in support of food and nutrition security.
- National legislation on DRR/M includes and addresses agriculture, livestock, fisheries and aquaculture, forestry and natural resource management.
- Integration of DRR/M into agricultural and rural development policies.
- Integration of DRR/M into poverty reduction strategies linked to agriculture, fisheries, forestry and natural resource management.
- Support laws and regulations for the design, construction and equipment of safe boats safe boats and risk proven agricultural infrastructure.
- Representation of relevant line ministries in the national DRR/M structures.
- Inclusion of agriculture, food and nutrition security in national DRR/DRM strategy and action plans.
- Promote institutional and operational linkage between DRR and climate change adaptation in agricultural sectors.
- Mainstreaming pastoral risk management into national agricultural and development policies and strategies.
- Design vegetation fire management action frameworks at national level.
ii. Capacity Development for the implementation of DRR in Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries
- Strengthen the capacity of line ministries, extension services and community-based organizations to deliver legislation, policies and strategies on DRR/M, through technical advice and training.
- Support coordination, ensuring linkages among relevant line ministries (i.e. environment and natural resources and other sectoral authorities).
- Promote and support Community-based DRR/M approaches and local DRR/M planning.
- Support capacities of technical line ministries and extension services to translate DRR/M legislation and policies into national and local strategies and plans.
- Support sustainable natural resource management strategies and practices (wetland management, efficient food-energy system, land and soil and water management).
- Promote sustainable land use planning to reduce risks. National action plans for the fisheries sector that follow the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF).
- Support national strategies on aquatic animal health for bio-security risks related to trans-boundary aquatic animal diseases.
- Promote partnerships among Community-based organizations, research centres and extension services for DRR/M in agriculture.
- Integration of agriculture, food and nutrition security in national preparedness / contingency plans.
2. Information and early warning against potential, known and emerging threats to agriculture sectors, food security, and nutrition
Information and monitoring of risks to food and nutrition security and trans-boundary threats ensure that member countries are be better equipped to anticipate and prevent food crises. This requires high quality data and information as well as analytical capacity. Options for capacity development is centred on the following three core themes:
i. Improved food and nutrition security information systems, which may include establishing/ strengthening the following:
- Mapping risks to agricultural livelihoods
- Statistical baselines
- Vulnerability assessment and analysis
FAO supports the collection, processing, analysis, storage, and information exchange of statistical data to improve the knowledge base, the scope and quality of information, and analysis of risks and vulnerability in national agriculture, livestock, fisheries, forestry and natural resources. It can do so with technical assistance, financial resources, technology transfer, information and communication technology, training and scientific cooperation. Statistics on food and nutrition security constitute the information baseline for analysis, early warning monitoring, policy formulation and programming. FAO houses, maintains and updates a substantive body of historical statistical datasets. FAO makes available its existing in-house capacities, including the statistical time series, technology and technical know-how available through FAOSTAT, CountryStat, Nutrition Country Profiles, FISHSTAT, FIVIMS, ForestSTAT, PriceSTAT, AQUASTAT, SOFI, SOFIA, SOFO, SOCO, SOLAW, and others. It strives to achieve an integrative approach that includes all data and information relevant to food and nutrition security, and hence fisheries, agriculture, livestock, and forestry. It does so on the basis of national demands, capacities and funding complementing existing information services as required, yet striving to achieve greater consistency, coherence and efficiency.
ii. Harmonized early warning for monitoring the multiple threats to food and nutrition security.
FAOs early warning monitoring capacities constitutes one additional options for capacity development for member states, building on the improved food and nutrition security information systems. FAO has long-established early warning services that monitor threats to food and nutrition security, and contribute in a critical way to the fight against hunger, malnutrition and poverty. This includes the following, among others:
- GIEWS: Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture, which monitors and reports on agricultural production and commodity markets, short-term forecasts and medium-term projections on food supply and demand, food balance sheets, food prices, crop prospects, requirements for external assistance, and other data.
- FCC EMPRES: Under its Food Chain Crisis Management Framework (FCC), FAO manages the Emergency Prevention System for Trans-boundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases (EMPRES), which aims to detect, prevent, contain and control the world’s most serious livestock and plant pests and diseases, while also surveying for newly emerging pathogens.
- FIRMS: Fishery Resources Monitoring System, which provides information on the global monitoring and management of fishery marine resources.
- GFIMS: Global Forest Fire Information Management System, which provides real-time monitoring of forest fires around the world
In early warning, this pillar contributes to the achievement of the following outcomes:
- Well-designed and better-targeted investments in early warning for food and nutrition security.
- Harmonized early warning that integrates the agriculture, fisheries, livestock and forestry sectors to enable holistic monitoring and analysis of the multiple threats to food and nutrition security.
- Improved data collection and analysis on food access, utilization and supply. Improved monitoring of new emerging threats, such as volatility in agricultural commodity markets, food policies, new pandemic threats, and climate change.
3. Promotion and diversification of livelihoods with risk reducing technologies, approaches and practices across all agricultural sectors
To adequately protect and build the resilience of agricultural livelihoods and hence food and nutrition security it is critical to invest in prevention and address underlying risks. FAO supports member countries in reducing negative impacts of natural hazards and other threats to food and nutrition security through the application of technologies and practices in agriculture forestry and fisheries, as well as sound environmental and natural resource management practices and sustainable use of ecosystems. The application of appropriate technologies, processes and/or practices is always location and context specific, depending on the threats to food and nutrition security of a particular country or geographic location, on crops produced and local agricultural practices, among other factors. Examples of the technologies, processes and practices which FAO promoting to reduce underlying risks, include:
- Conservation Agriculture (CA);
- Seed Security, strengthening national and local seed systems;
- Agro-forestry integrated approach combining trees and shrubs with crops and/or livestock;
- Integrated Pest Management (IPM) which supports both sustainable intensification of crop production and pesticide risk reduction;
- Sustainable water management approaches addressing water use efficiency and productivity;
- Control of animal and plant pests and diseases;
- Breeding of hazard tolerant crop varieties and animal species;
- Biodiversity conservation;
- Sustainable crop and livestock production;
- Agricultural management, marketing and finance;
- Forest fires and fire management;
- Catchment area management;
- Precautionary measures for fisheries and safety at sea; and Climate change adaptation. Etc.
More information on validated practices and technologies are for instance available on the TECA platform. It is a web-platform to share information and guidelines on technologies and practices in crop production, forestry, livestock, fisheries, marketing – including for climate change and disaster risk reduction - to help small producers in the field.
Further in respect to DRR awareness raising, FAO Core Function on knowledge management is embedded in its programme on resilience. There are key knowledge gaps which FAO aims to fill by making use of its comparative advantages in this sector. The knowledge management strategy for DRR/M aims to substantially increase awareness and knowledge, understanding and visibility of the importance of DRR in the fight against hunger when embedded across the agricultural sectors. It is also strategically important for advocacy, to harness greater interest and commitment on the part of the international community, and for increasing financial resources in favour of member states and particularly vulnerable small-scale farmers. FAO is exploring DRR/M knowledge management strategic partnerships with key partners with complementary mandates and interests. The Communication for Sustainable Development Initiative (CSDI) for instance, supports the design of local communication strategies on climate change adaptation, natural resource management and DRR, including technical assistance to extension services, farmer organizations and field projects.
Another key area is to support the establishment risk transfer mechanisms. FAO and its partners recognize that scaling-up cash-based programming as well as risk-informed and shock-responsive social protection systems is a strategic priority to improve food security and nutrition and to protect households’ assets as well as increase income of the most vulnerable population. The “CASH+” approach illustrates FAO added value in providing a flexible combination of cash transfers and agricultural productive interventions.
4. Preparedness for effective response and recovery across all agricultural sectors
FAO supports member states with different preparedness measures, including assisting countries to develop food safety contingency and response plans, supporting preparedness planning and simulation exercises for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, and much more. At the same time, FAO has been investing to strengthen its internal capacity to prepare and respond effectively to emergencies worldwide, for example through its Crisis Management Centre - Animal Health (CMC-AH) as a rapid response mechanism for trans-boundary animal disease emergencies. Technical assistance and capacity development for member states center on the following two outcomes:
i. Strengthened local and national preparedness in agriculture, fisheries, livestock and forestry, such as:
- Support local and national preparedness / contingency plans for agriculture, fisheries, forestry, and livestock.
- Integration of agriculture into local and national preparedness / contingency plans.
- Inclusion of agricultural sectors in inter-agency preparedness / contingency plans.
ii. FAO Preparedness Plans in focus countries as standard practice to strengthen the capacity of its decentralized offices to prepare for and respond to recurrent and priority emergencies/threats.
Preparedness Plans address the following elements:
- Crisis scenario and response requirements
- Surge capacity: standby agreements, roster.
- Management arrangements
- Coordination and partnerships
- Logistics and ICT (pre-positioning)
- Procurement preparedness (forward tendering, market research, local suppliers)
- Programming /Financing (pre-develop project and programme profiles/concept, seed funding.
- Procedures: focal points, contact lists, reporting lines.
The FAO together with the World Food Programme (WFP) head the Food Security Cluster (FSC) which has been established to coordinate the food security response during a humanitarian crisis, addressing issues of food availability, access and utilisation. The Global Support Team includes FAO, WFP, NGO and Red Cross and Red Crescent members.
B. Regional Initiatives
Guided by the global strategic framework, FAO has further focused and integrated its work at regional level through 15 Regional Initiatives. The Initiatives respond to the priorities of member-states and will achieve demonstrable impact in a time bound manner, whilst responding to FAO’s Strategic Objectives. The Regional Initiatives were developed based on an in-depth cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary review of regional issues. Three regional initiatives focus in particular in resilience building.
Building Resilience in Africa’s Drylands
This initiative aims to improving institutional capacity for resilience and responding to disasters and crises at regional, national and community level. In addition, it strengthens and improves early warning and information management. It builds on current expertise and programmes and provide opportunities for innovation, exchange of knowledge, and inclusiveness (Gender, Youth, etc.), ensuring sustainability of humanitarian and development intervention. Focus countries are Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
Building resilience for food security and nutrition in the Near East and North Africa
Countries in the region have been exposed to a wide range of recurrent natural and human-induced shocks including a high incidence of conflicts and protracted crises, as well as climate change impacts. In addition, the high population growth rates and the growing urbanization are putting heavy pressure on the demand for food and water. While, during the last years, countries have shown remarkable resilience, by making food security and water management a policy priority, the goal of eradicating food insecurity and malnutrition is still far from being achieved. Investing in resilience and food security in the NENA region is therefore vital to fight hunger and build peace whilst it is a powerful lever to reach the Sustainable Development Goal pledge “to leave no one behind”. The major work of the Initiative focuses on Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, West Bank and Gaza, and Yemen.
Sustainable use of natural resources, adaptation to climate change and disaster risk management in Latin America and the Caribbean
Given the increasing frequency, intensity and complexity of crises and disasters, intensified by climate change, and the process of overexploitation and degradation of natural resources, which reduces the resilience of livelihoods, it is necessary to adopt a holistic approach that integrates preparedness, prevention and mitigation, response and recovery activities. In addition, actions are needed that support the transition to sustainable development in alignment with the new Sustainable Development Goals, including comprehensive and holistic disaster risk management, adaptation to climate change and the sustainable use of natural resources. This regional initiative will be implemented in three sub-regions of Latin America and the Caribbean, with actions at the national, sub-regional and regional level.
Membership in Key Networks
- Inter-Agency Standing Committee-IASC
- Global Food Security Cluster
- United Nations Development group-UNDG
- International Consortium on Landslides
- Fire Management Actions Alliance
Ministries and/or departments of Agriculture, Forestry, Livestock, Fisheries and Environment and related extension services, research institutes, universities, NGOs, municipalities and farmers’ organizations.
Disaster Risk Reduction Focal Point(s)
Mr. Dominique Burgeon, Leader Strategic Programme on Resilience, Director of the FAO Emergency and Rehabilitation Division, Rome
Mr. Shukri Ahmed, Deputy Leader Strategic Programme on Resilience, FAO, Rome
Mr. Stephan Baas, Senior Resilience Advisor and Disaster Risk Reduction Focal Point, FAO Strategic Programme on Resilience, FAO, Rome (Stephan.Baas@fao.org)
Mrs. Sylvie Wabbes, Programme Officer and Alternate Disaster Risk Reduction Focal Point, FAO Emergency and Rehabilitation Division, Rome (Sylvie.Wabbes@fao.org)