Humanitarian response and preparedness

LOG represents FAO in the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) as the primary mechanism for inter-agency coordination of humanitarian assistance. FAO's role is to respond, with the other partners in the UN System and non-UN partners, to the specific needs for emergency assistance in the agricultural, livestock and fisheries sectors in developing countries affected by exceptional natural or human-induced calamities. FAO's emergency assistance objective is to ensure improved preparedness for, and effective response to, food and agricultural threats and emergencies, thereby ending affected communities' dependence on humanitarian assistance and paving the way towards a transition to sustainable development.

In the last few years, and in the wake of mega-disasters such as Pakistan and Haiti, humanitarian response has been tested like never before. The frequency and scale of climate related disasters, and global interconnectedness that makes commodity and financial volatility more pervasive to those most vulnerable, has resulted in a growing recognition of the strategic importance of the humanitarian enterprise. At the core of these issues is the accountability that the humanitarian actors have to donor states and to affected populations. In response to these issues, the Emergency Relief Coordinator Valarie Amos and the IASC Principals have launched a new business model to improve humanitarian response, by proposing specific changes required to current practice, with the goal of strengthening the relevance and effectiveness of IASC organizations and inter-agency collective action. The five themes (Evolving Humanitarian Context, Leadership and Coordination, Humanitarian Accountability, Building National Capacity for Preparedness and Early Recovery, and Advocacy and Communications) will be discussed in the Principals meeting in February 2011. Discussions in that forum and eventual agreement on proposals for action will inevitably shape the work of the IASC community of humanitarian actors, including FAO. LOG monitors this evolution closely and provides analysis of the implications for FAO’s work in humanitarian contexts. 

As part of the same efforts to be more accountable to its member countries, and to better coordinate food security responses at the country level in humanitarian crisis situations, FAO together with its Rome-based humanitarian partner WFP launched the establishment of an Emergency Global Food Security Cluster (GFSC) at the level of the IASC Principals in Geneva last year. LOG was involved in the preparatory work leading to the GFSC creation and will continue to be involved in the evolution of the discussion around the operationalisation of the GFSC, particularly in light of the high world prices.

Furthermore, FAO ensures contact and interaction is maintained with the donor community and member states through the organization of Humanitarian Liaison Working Group (HLWG) meetings, workshops and other networks, all of which feed into and inform the ongoing humanitarian work of FAO and the IASC.

Important FAO partners based in Geneva include: