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Natural disasters can destroy lives and wipe out years of development in a matter of hours or even seconds. Populations around the world are increasingly exposed to natural hazards (drought, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, disease epidemics, etc.), to man-made crises (socio-economic shocks, conflicts, etc.) and to protracted crises (complex, prolonged emergencies that combine two or more aspects of the above-mentioned crises).

People who rely on agriculture for their livelihoods are often the worst affected when a crisis or a disaster strikes, potentially putting their food and nutrition security at serious risk.

FAO is working towards increasing the resilience of people and their livelihoods to these threats and crises. For this purpose, FAO defines resilience as:

"The ability to prevent disasters and crises as well as to anticipate, absorb, accommodate or recover from them in a timely, efficient and sustainable manner. This includes protecting, restoring and improving livelihoods systems in the face of threats that impact agriculture, nutrition, food security and food safety."

In other words, resilience is the ability of people, communities or systems that are confronted by disasters or crises to withstand damage and to recover rapidly.

Therefore, we seek to develop the capacities of families, communities and institutions to protect people and their livelihoods, through measures to avoid (prevention) or limit (mitigation and preparedness) the adverse effects of hazards and to provide timely and reliable hazard forecasts. This is called Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), or to simplify: The prevention and mitigation of, and preparedness for, disasters, within the broader concept of sustainable development.

FAO’s resilience strategy is based on four pillars:

  1. Enable the environment - Institutional strengthening and governance of risk and crisis in agricultural sectors.
  2. Watch to safeguard - Information and early warning systems on food and nutrition security and transboundary threats.
  3. Apply risk and vulnerability reduction measures - Protection, prevention, mitigation and building livelihoods with technologies, approaches and practices across all agricultural sectors.
  4. Prepare and respond - Preparedness for and response to crises in agriculture, livestock, fisheries and forestry.

In January 2005, 168 Governments adopted a 10-year plan to make the world safer from natural hazards at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction, held in Kobe, Hyogo, Japan. The Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to disasters, offers guiding principles, priorities for action and practical means for achieving disaster resilience for vulnerable communities.

Its goal is to substantially reduce disaster losses by 2015 - in lives, and in the social, economic, and environmental assets of communities and countries.

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