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Prepare and respond

Prepare and respond

Preparedness and response to crises affecting farmers, herders, fishers and foresters

While prevention and mitigation refer to the avoidance or limitation of the adverse impacts of hazards and related disasters, preparedness refers to the knowledge and capacities necessary to effectively anticipate, respond to, and recover from these shocks.

The 4 pillars of FAO's resilience strategy

  1. Enable the environment
  2. Watch to safeguard
  3. Apply risk and vulnerability reduction measures
  4. Prepare and respond

Preparedness measures allow populations to respond effectively to the consequences of a hazard. They are taken in advance of a forecasted hazard to prepare for its effects and reduce its impact, especially on vulnerable populations.

FAO supports countries with the establishment of different preparedness measures including:

  • Agricultural practices at national/local level: seed and grazing fodder reserves; safe storage facility for seeds, harvest and tools; stockpiling agricultural tools; emergency funds; etc.
  • Support to national and local preparedness planning: contingency plans for agriculture, fisheries/aquaculture, forestry and livestock; mapping, coordination arrangements, public information and training; specific crisis/sector preparedness planning support for identified high threat diseases (avian influenza, aquatic animal disease, etc).

Alternatively, when people’s capacities are overwhelmed by crises, they need to be able to count on effective local, national and international emergency response, including humanitarian assistance and protection, expandable safety nets, crop insurance schemes and other forms of social protection adapted to assist populations at risk.

The vast majority of people affected by emergency situations rely on agriculture for their livelihood. Most of these people are subsistence farmers, herders, foresters or fishers and when a crisis strikes, they often lose not only standing crops, but also their limited productive assets. In short, when affected by a disaster or a conflict, these populations are no longer able to sustain themselves and become highly vulnerable.

FAO’s expertise in farming, livestock, fisheries and forestry is crucial in relief and rehabilitation efforts to help them salvage what they have left and build a new future.

From crisis to recovery

FAO’s work in post-disaster and emergency situations emphasizes the protection and rehabilitation of agricultural livelihoods. FAO works to restore local food production, providing an exit from food aid and other assistance. In responding to an emergency, FAO collaborates with many partners, including governments, other UN organizations and humanitarian groups.

During interagency missions, and increasingly as part of the Cluster System (FAO co-leads the Food Security Cluster with the World Food Programme), FAO takes a primary role in determining agriculture and food security needs, consulting farmers, herders, fishers and local authorities. Farmers, even when vulnerable and poor, have knowledge, skills and ideas about what can help them. Giving them choices in types of assistance preserves their dignity and makes interventions more effective.

FAO designs relief and rehabilitation programmes and, in coordination with UN and other partners, mobilizes funds. FAO solicits donor support through Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP), other emergency or transitional appeals, and strategy papers/updates.

Not just seeds and tools

In order to help restoring food production fast and reducing dependency on aid, FAO distributes agricultural inputs, obtained locally where possible, including:

  • seeds and fertilizer
  • fishing equipment
  • livestock
  • fodder
  • farm tools

In complex emergencies, rural communities are impacted by several shocks resulting from conflict, disease, natural disaster, pest infestation, etc. often for several years. The assistance provided is adjusted to the complexity of the situation and humanitarian needs:

  • providing drought-resistant seeds to vulnerable farmers
  • training in water conservation techniques
  • rehabilitation of irrigation schemes
  • training and equipping community animal health workers to save livestock
  • educating HIV/AIDS orphans in farming techniques and life skills

These programmes focus on providing materials while also building people’s knowledge and skills, increasing self-reliance and laying foundations for agricultural recovery.

Information for action

FAO establishes a coordination unit in areas affected by a major natural disaster or prolonged emergency. The team provides information and advice to those involved in emergency agricultural assistance, including NGOs, governments and donors, meaning fewer gaps in delivery of assistance, less duplication and fewer wasted resources.

FAO is also a key source of information on food security and nutrition, providing stakeholders such as humanitarian partners and governments with information to ensure the best policy, planning and programming decision

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