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Hazard and emergency types

Hazards are dangerous phenomena – like floods, tropical storms or droughts – that can cause loss of life, damage to property and the environment, destruction of livelihoods and disruption of services. Hazards can lead to disasters or emergencies, which require urgent action. Such emergencies have a direct impact on food security – floods, storms, tsunamis and other hazards destroy agricultural infrastructure and assets.

Drought, and transboundary animal and plant pests and diseases reduce production, affect prices and can cause a halt in trade. Emergencies interrupt access to markets, trade and food supply. They reduce the incomes of those affected, deplete savings and erode livelihoods, making people even more vulnerable to future disasters. The incidence of food-related crises has been rising since the early 1980s – with between 50 and 65 food emergencies every year since 2000, up from 25 to 45 during the 1990s.

FAO’s work in emergencies focuses on reducing people’s vulnerability to hazards before, during and after disasters through risk assessment, risk reduction, emergency response and rehabilitation. When an emergency does hit, FAO focuses on recovery and rehabilitation to increase the resilience of livelihoods in the future through longer-term interventions that facilitate the transition from relief to development.

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