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Unloading bananas for sale at La Saline open air market one year after the 2010 Haiti earthquake

Earthquakes

An average of 3.5 million people are affected by earthquakes every year. Earthquakes usually cause severe damage to urban centres, resulting in the loss of life and damage to homes and other infrastructure. Although risks are normally associated with cities, the effects on the rural sector and farming communities can be devastating. Earthquakes sometimes trigger tsunamis, landslides and occasionally volcanic activity.

Earthquakes impact on food security and agriculture-based livelihoods through:

  • loss and injury of family members and workforce
  • loss of crop yields and livestock
  • damage to irrigation systems
  • damage to people’s homes, animal shelters, stock areas and business premises

Agriculture plays a critical role in helping communities to recover from natural disasters while developing a sustainable and food-secure future. FAO, in collaboration with Governments and its NGO partners, provides emergency assistance to earthquake-affected families through the provision of key farming inputs, rehabilitation of rural infrastructure and training of farmers.

In Haiti, after the 2010 earthquake that caused unprecedented damage, FAO provided seeds, hand tools and fertilizers to farming families throughout the country in order to help them re-establish agricultural production. Because the Haiti earthquake caused severe damage to cities, FAO also distributed seeds and fertilizers, as well as water pumps to help urban families start home vegetable gardens. In addition to helping people rebuild their livelihoods, FAO also supported the integration and resettlement of displaced populations.

FAO uses the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach to frame needs assessment and response planning in post-earthquake countries. Through the approach a Rapid Livelihoods Assessment is conducted, which studies the impact that an emergency has on people’s livelihoods, and uses the findings to design projects that are suited to each particular case. After the Pakistan earthquake in 2005, FAO used the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach to develop a national livelihood rehabilitation strategy for the country, which included distributing seeds, tools and fertilizers to those most affected by the earthquake.

To create a more solid link between short and long-term emergency responses, FAO also implements sustainable agricultural activities such as seed multiplication, sustainable watershed management, water and soil conservation, food processing and the farmer field school approach. These activities help create sustainable livelihoods so that farmers will become more resilient to future emergencies.

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