Addressing food insecurity in protracted crises: Resilience-building programming

17.06.2013 - 12.07.2013
Final feedback by Malcolm Ridout - 17.07.2013

This summary will concentrate on the practical suggestions for action to increase resilience made during the consultation. It will then go on to draw out suggestions for future action.

The consultation highlighted that building resilience in protracted crises is not a linear process. The forces that act to push people into crisis are varied, with natural resource scarcity, climate change, conflict, population growth and economic factors all interacting in ways that are often specific to each situation, and even to individuals.

There is a great deal of effective expertise in the delivery of humanitarian support to those affected by crisis, but this is expensive and does little or nothing to equip people to cope with the next crisis.  There is also a great deal of expertise and knowledge about ways to bolster the livelihoods of people to specific threats (agricultural improvements, social protection, conflict reduction, reducing social exclusion, provision of economic opportunities etc.).

But humanitarian response and longer term investments are not well integrated, and tend to be ‘projectised’ and so not easy to adapt as circumstances change or to the needs of particular groups of people.

The consultation made some strong suggestions as some immediate actions that can and should be taken to increase resilience.

  1. Respond to warning signals early. Early action is very cost effective.
  2. Put in place programmes that can scale up rapidly, switching funding to immediate relief when required.
  3. Think about investing long term, in programmes that support livelihoods, and are able to provide direct support to those who fall into crisis. 
  4. Stop thinking and acting in project and subject ‘silos’.  Resilience needs to be built across all livelihood capitals, and is not a quick fix.

The goals above come from observations about current successes and failures about dealing with protracted crises.  Putting them into practice will be harder. The consultation also highlighted some practical difficulties in thinking about reliably producing resilience.

  1. The past will be an imperfect guide to the future. We know that present levels and styles of action have not been sufficient to reduce the impact of protracted crises.
  2. We lack the tools to be able to predict the overall resilience of communities. While resilience to specific threats is easy to enumerate it is a great deal harder to think about how communities will respond to future, combined threats. While resilience can be thought of as a general ‘quality’, measuring resilience, and so predicting the success of programmes is very difficult.
  3. Measurement will be essential to ensure we get the right scale. Investing too little in resilience building threatens to be ineffective and not remove the need for repeated humanitarian operations.

In view of the above, it is possible to draw out some suggestions for future policy action:

  1. Put in place long term programmes that can adapt to circumstance, switching to humanitarian support when required. This could imply a removal of the artificial administrative divide between humanitarian and development budgets.
  2. Invest in better understanding and measurement of resilience. This should include ideas of the scale of responses required to be effective. For policy makers to invest they will need to be reasonably assured that they will be buying a degree of resilience.
  3. Programmes aimed at resilience need not only to scale up in response to shocks, but also need to be adapted to circumstance. Centrally planned projects will struggle with this. Greater investment in local government and community decision making could help to ensure programmes remain informed and responsive.     


Topic introduction by Malcolm Ridout - 17.06.2013

The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) launched a two-year consultative process to develop an Agenda for Action to address food insecurity in protracted crises. This e-discussion is one of a series exploring critical topics on how we can improve food security in protracted crisis situations.

Let’s hear your voice on how to build resilience in protracted crises - this is your opportunity to tell us about actions, principles, recommendations and good practices.

Ultimately, this discussion will inform and shape the elaboration of an Agenda for Action for Addressing Food Insecurity in Protracted Crises, to be considered by the CFS in 2014.

Discussions about resilience have come up with a number of definitions. While they are different, references to resilience of  countries, communities and individuals in the face of protracted crisis tend to share two common elements: 1) the capacity to cope with shocks, and 2) the capacity adapt to changed circumstances.

Definitions are not the biggest issue. Most practitioners know resilience when they see it. What is much more of a challenge is to be able to predict, in advance, what sort of policies and programmes will produce resilience, even when shocks, and their precise effects, are difficult to predict in advance. 

There is a wealth of evidence on the kinds of activities that can increase resilience to specific shocks; soil and water conservation, social protection, functioning markets, education and health services are just a few of the building blocks for resilience that have been identified. Yet even though development policy makers often have a shrewd idea of the kinds of shocks that are likely, there is still no shortage of protracted crises around the world. Once people’s ability to maintain their livelihood has been eroded to  by repeated shocks, they have little or no prospect of graduating from the grinding poverty in which they find themselves. The global community, faced with such suffering, responds with much needed humanitarian aid. This is expensive and is ultimately doomed to fail as a long-lasting response, as it does nothing to rebuild livelihoods that will be resilient in the future.   

This e-discussion seeks to tackle the ‘wicked problem’ of building resilience in protracted crises head on. We would like to bring together ideas of what has worked, and how strategies and action can be made to predictably add up to greater resilience. We would like some practical recommendations as to how we should act differently in the future.

In addressing this problem it is clear that we need to move on from a collection of evidence of individual programmes that can demonstrate results in a particular sector (e.g. social protection). Important though these are, this discussion will look at how action, or sets of actions, can start to engender the quality of resilience to both known and unknown future shocks. We are looking for practical suggestions that are relevant to areas that are currently prone to recurrent crises, or are in a protracted crisis situation.

So, let’s hear your voice in this discussion. What have we learnt to date? What are the “biggest challenges” to producing resilience in areas subject to protracted crisis? How can we choose the right set of strategies for each situation?

Based on your knowledge and experiences consider the following questions:

  • What are the strategies that have been successful in building resilience? Can we build resilience in general or does it always have to be in relation to a (known) type of shock?
  • What programming has improved food security in protracted crises?
  • How will we know we are on the right track to produce resilience? 
  • Can we predict and quantify  the effects of action across a number of sectors in advance? Do we need to?
  • Why have we not done better to date?
  • Is it just about scale? Do we just need bigger programmes? Is this affordable?
  • Demographic and ecological changes are probably the most predictable causal factors that will have a major impact on resilience in the future - how should we plan for this? Can we predict the consequences of inadequate action? Should we try to?

I look forward to your insights and contributions, a stimulating discussion and a creative search for solutions. Thank-you in advance for your time and thought.

Malcolm Ridout


You may also find this contribution usefull and overlook the delay I have read with interest the contributions made to the consultation and would like to highlight the fact that a key factor why there was no food crises post-Soviet Union collapse in South Caucuses and Central Asian countries after 1992, as seen in Sub Saharan Africa, was the Dekhon / Homestead farming practiced by each family. These farms provided most of the immediate nutritious food needs of vegetables, meat, milk, eggs, fruits, etc., even when inflation was rife. The NARES, Regional and International research orgs/ stakeholders have not and are continuing to follow a top down approach, thus ignoring to meet the AR4D needs of the rural poor smallholder producer community ( 85% of farmers) to reduce costs, hunger, malnutrition, poverty, suicides and the effect of climate change whilst improving farm production of homesteads, quality of on farm produced low cost inputs in terms of improved livelihoods, seeds, compost, bio mass, water and irrigation, cultivation techniques, housing of livestock and their upkeep, net income and purchasing power etc. Many out of the box interventions like the funding for the setting up of producer orgs/ company (PC) GOI doc attached, staffed by professionals (rural youth trained as general practitioners [GPs]/ MBAs in agriculture to take over all responsibilities, manage risks, leaving their members to on farm activities producing nutritious food for their communities and accessible at farm gate price), creating local human and institutional capacity (knowledge/ know how/ technologies/ ICTs and material sciences to manage water, etc., can contribute significantly to increased productivity of nutritious food by homesteads. Link to an article about smallholder agriculture contributing to better nutrition, by Steve Wiggins and Sharada Keats, Overseas Development Institute (ODI), UK - commissioned by The Hunger Alliance (March 2013): A couple of excerpts: Public agricultural research needs to focus on smallholder needs, with technical innovations that are sparing in their use of capital, but which emphasise labour and the skilful application to local circumstances: reflecting the relative endowments of smallholders. For very small, part-time farms there is often a call for intermediate technologies that raise yields of food crops without heavy demands for labour or external inputs. Farmer-to-farmer learning, especially of agro-ecological approaches with considerable local specificity, can be facilitated and promoted by innovative extension services; research on conservation of soil and water need to recognise how and where local innovations function. Recommendation: Develop and promote innovations for marginal farms, focusing on higher yields for staples but using few external inputs and where possible saving labour. These will allow these farms to achieve the self-provisioning in staples that is often a primary objective of the farm, as well as potentially allowing some of the land to be switched to more diverse, nutrient-rich fruit, vegetables and small-scale livestock rearing. Responsibility for this lies with agricultural research systems, although for some researchers taking up this challenge may require setting aside the search for optimal yields. There is scope here for NGOs to foster exchange of experiences from local innovations and NGO research.

Jessica Hartog HelpAge International, United Kingdom

Many interesting insights have already been provided in this discussion. I would like to pick up on the last discussion point on demographic changes and its impact on building resilience. It is rightly noted that demographic change is probably one of the most predictable factors that has to be taken into consideration when building resilience. In humanitarian and development programming and especially in protracted crisis contexts a lot of emphasis is put on youth bulges and vulnerable groups like women at reproductive age and children. While this is valid, we should not lose sight of world-wide population ageing and its implication for resilience building. The demographic changes that are taking place will create a significant vulnerability nexus for the ageing population in a context of climate change, increasing land pressure, migration and many other challenging factors.

Ageing is not only happening in high-income countries. Quite on the contrary, aging is happening fastest in developing countries. Already today, there are more people over 60 than children under 5. By 2030 people aged over 60 will outnumber children under the age of 10. Therefore, population ageing is a trend we cannot ignore.

An ageing population has far reaching implications for building resilience. Older people are already facing challenges to maintain their livelihoods in ‘normal’ circumstances because of health issues, reduced mobility and strength, impaired sight or hearing but also because of exclusion from innovative livelihood support and financial services.  When on top of this they are facing stresses and repeated shocks, older people are at high risk to be plunged into poverty with no prospects to recover let alone to ‘bounce back better’. Given the large number of elderly headed households with large numbers of dependants in contexts where there is a high level of HIV & Aids and/or rural-urban migration of adolescents and young adults, building the resilience of older people will have strong intergenerational effects as well.

Therefore, it is encouraging to see that the introductory note by Malcolm Ridout mentions social protection as a crucial element for building resilience. Social protection floors would ensure that people with limited labour capacity and/or access to income opportunities would always be able to meet their basic food and other essential needs and this would also provide the minimum basis for being able to recover from and adapt to change brought about by shocks and stresses.

At the same time, it should be recognised that older people can and do engage in livelihood activities and should therefore not be left out of livelihood programming – which is unfortunately the rule rather than the exception. We need to increase our understanding and evidence on the actual and potential role of older people in sustainable livelihoods to build resilience. Meanwhile livelihood programmes should increasingly include older people with labour saving considerations in mind while designing the activities. With this we have a pretty straightforward but important element in building the resilience of a group that tends to be overlooked.

Tim Waites DFID, United Kingdom

I want to mention 3 elements of building resilience to disasters which DFID is interested in:

Multi-annual humanitarian funding: Until recently humanitarian aid instruments have been designed assuming need is transitory and short-term. Humanitarian project cycles have been 6-12 months with budgetary processes to match. Yet the majority of humanitarian aid (estimates are 70-80%) is spent in long term protracted crises where need extends beyond 5 years. Long-term financing has been difficult to get because of political and security issues have limited the use of development instruments. This has led to the much talked about ‘gap’ between relief and development. Secondly, timeliness of response to spikes is constrained due to the inability to get funding quickly from capitals to people in need.

To address these 2 challenges, DFID has been developing multi-year business cases in 5 countries (e.g. Somalia, DRC and Ethiopia), designed to support both timely humanitarian responses and interventions that can help to build resilience. This approach combines 2 key elements. The first, predictable 4-year funding, enables partners to meet acute needs as well as finding new and longer-term strategies to help communities build resilience. The second, is innovative pre-approved internal risk financing arrangements, or contingency budget, which allow UK to early warning/ action, preparedness activities and rapid response should there be a disaster. In effect we are giving our funding partners the space to innovate and address the underlying causes of risk and chronic poverty whilst also having the resources to respond to the inevitable spikes.

Building resilience in fragile and conflict affected contexts: Efforts to address the risks resulting from natural hazards, fragility and conflict have tended to be operationalized separately within distinct Communities of Practice (CoP). On the one hand, DRR practices have tended to work ‘around’ conflict and fragility, seeking to ‘do no harm’ but not actively addressing conflict dynamics. Humanitarian actors (particularly those working on protection) and conflict prevention and peace-building actors, on the other hand, have worked more directly ‘on’ conflict albeit without applying a natural disaster lens. Donors, UN agencies and NGOs typically have separate departments and processes to deal with disaster and conflict risk; this has often translated into siloed policy and practice at the global level in conflict-affected and fragile states.

The concept of resilience offers an opportunity to connect the different policy CoPs working on these different types of risks, including humanitarian, stabilization and development actors; actors working on disaster risk reduction, conflict prevention and climate change; and those working on social, economic and institutional resilience. In doing so, it provides an opportunity for these actors to join forces to understand how risks can be identified and addressed; and to strengthen the resilience of those people and systems (i.e. at different scales) who need it most – households, communities, the private sector and governments.

In recognition of this, the UK Government’s new humanitarian policy (DFID, 2012) puts humanitarian action, conflict prevention and DRR at the heart of its work on resilience. In order to take this forward and conceptually explore further the links between disaster resilience and conflict prevention, DFID commissioned a study titled – When Disasters and Conflicts Collide in 2012. The study found that conflicts can increase a population’s exposure to additional hazards and erode coping mechanisms whilst, at the same time, the occurrence of natural disasters during or in the immediate aftermath of conflict can exacerbate conflict’s humanitarian consequences. The relationship between conflict and disasters can, therefore, be mutually and negatively reinforcing. The study concluded that, where feasible, integrated programmes should be designed to reduce the impact of both natural disasters and conflict – or where there are separate interventions, they should be more coherent. The common denominator for both CoP’s / disciplines is the need to focus on the multiple risks faced by vulnerable people.

However, it is extremely difficult to identify what this may ‘look like’ in fragile and conflict states because each context is different and even in a particular country there may be varying levels of conflict and fragility in different areas of the country. So far, conceptual studies suggest that a mix of humanitarian, risk sensitive development, and state-building initiatives will be required. The key requirement is to ensure there is robust contextual analysis with a strong focus on fragility and conflict. Other key operational requirements might include:

  • The need for common analysis that supports a coherent approach to managing multiple risks
  • Financing mechanisms that allow predictable and sustained commitments
  • Early warning systems that lead to early action
  • A stronger interface between development and humanitarian actors and principles

Programmes that flex: Emerging lessons from Ethiopia and Kenya suggest that social protection may offer a more cost-effective approach to protecting lives and livelihoods than humanitarian aid. However, the evidence base is relatively weak on the effectiveness of social protection in responding to additional needs as a result of stresses and shocks, particularly in LICs and fragile and conflict affected contexts. There is limited guidance for practitioners and policy makers on how to design and implement social protection programmes/ systems that can respond to shocks, particularly how to assess where and when they offer best value for money.

Beyond the Horn of Africa, there are relatively few examples of social protection programmes in LICs and fragile and conflict affected contexts that can rapidly scale up to meet the additional needs of either existing beneficiaries or newly affected populations following a crisis or shock.

This is because a social protection system that can rapidly scale up in response to a shock has a number of requirements that are unlikely to all be in place in these contexts, including:  

  • Longer-term programmes and broader social protection systems in place for the poorest and most vulnerable before shocks and crises hit;
  • Existing programmes and systems (and complementary programmes) whose design and implementation focus on all key stresses and shocks;
  • Existing and/or additional counter-cyclical programmes or programme components that, when a shock hits, can:
  • immediately address additional crises needs of existing beneficiaries;
  • capture the newly poor and vulnerable (e.g. through flexible eligibility mechanisms and effective appeals mechanisms);
  • be introduced to protect the newly poor and vulnerable (such as public works and unemployment insurance); and
  • Financing for crisis response (including rapid-response lending instruments and insurance mechanisms).

Beyond social protection systems, what are the options for long-term health, WASH and food security and nutrition programmes to scale up in response to stresses and shocks?

Finally, measuring resilience and developing models to improve our understanding on predicting degrees/ levels of resilience. This will determine the flexibility needed in our multi-year programmes to address the degree of certainty of having the right outcomes.

With thanks to members of my team in Conflict Humanitarian and Security Department, the Growth and Resilience Department and Research and Evidence Department.

Desirée Quagliarotti Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Italy

My contribution wants to be a reflection of the consequences of the global food crisis in countries in protracted crises. The continuous spikes and volatility in the prices of agricultural commodities are having significant negative impacts, both geopolitical and socio-economic. According to Lester Brown, the ability to produce food is increasingly becoming a strategic variable and a new “geopolitics of food” is emerging, which is affecting the balance of power among countries. Food prices increases affect, above all, that part of world population still living in poverty and under-nutrition, and therefore also the countries in protracted crises in which the incidence of hunger is particularly high. But today the food security issue does not regard only poor countries. In a context of strong instability of agricultural prices, the loss of trust in international markets increases the perception of vulnerability of food-importing countries. Since the strategy of achieving the objective of food self-sufficiency does not appear as a rational choice in areas where fertile land and water resources are scarce, many countries have started to consider land acquisition abroad as the most effective option to satisfy the domestic food demand. The land grabbing phenomenon is leading to a paradoxical process in terms of food security, where poor countries with high percentages of undernourished people are leaving away their fertile land to developed countries so that the latter can produce food to export back home. Many large-scale land acquisition are taking place in countries in protracted crises, such as Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, etc. For this reason it is not possible to speak of resilience and food security in those countries without considering this phenomenon. Land grab amplifies the crisis factors in areas having low economic, social and environmental resilience. If we consider the instability factors that characterize most protracted crises, it is easy to hypothesize that land transfers could exacerbate weaknesses of these countries, particularly institutional corruption, poverty, forced displacements, disruption of traditional lifestyles, conflicts over lands and natural resources. These variables are likely to worsen further the level of domestic food insecurity. Other risks relate to the degradation of land, water and the environment and all have a direct effect on local communities. Small farmers and pastoralists understand how to manage agricultural and grazing lands, especially marginal ones, in ways that foreign companies often do not. Substantial environmental impacts are expected, since the agricultural projects in question are based on large-scale monocultural farming, which requires irrigation water and large amounts of fertilizers and pesticides. Large-scale land acquisitions and the transition from a subsistence agriculture to a modern one are presented by local governments and international organizations as a fundamental measure for improving productive efficiency, increasing food production and stimulating economic growth. But, as Piero Bevilacqua argues, what is too often overlooked is the deep environmental, economic and cultural strangeness of the concept of development compared to the realities of the South. The North has been able to rely for its modernization process on a series of economic and environmental factors that constitute serious obstacles to the economic growth typical of capitalism in many poor countries. As in all temperate areas, the North has benefited from a suitable climate for agricultural development and human settlements: regular rainfall distributed throughout the year, the fundamental role played by the alternation of the seasons, soil not highly erosive as a result of deforestation. None of this is found in the Southern countries of the world. In the poor countries the ecological resilience is low, the environment is fragile and more vulnerable than the western one. At those latitudes the land can not be transformed into monocultures and large-scale, capital-intensive production systems: investments which proved to be profitable in Europe and in the USA may have a devastating impact in those regions. Then as ecological, cultural and socio-economic contexts are diverse, the levels of resilience change too, and consequently the strategies and the tools chosen to achieve certain goals. According to the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge (IAASTD), we need a new approach that rethinks the role of agricultural knowledge, science and technology and diversifies it according to differences in agro-ecological, social and cultural conditions around the world. This heterogeneity can be achieved by promoting farm systems practicing ecological agriculture, preserving the livelihood of peasants, and producing healthy, safe and culturally diverse foods. This does not mean downplaying the role of science and technology in the improvement of agriculture, but only that the only way to feed the world population (especially in countries at risk) in the future will be to emphasize diversity in all its forms: diversity in crops, genetic resources, landscapes, cultural features, and agricultural and knowledge systems; in one word, agro-biodiversity. It requires the adoption of knowledge-intensive approaches in which science, technology and traditional knowledge complement each other in order to preserve the natural and cultural heritage. When the problem to be solved is hunger it is not possible to rely solely on market rules, because the “Invisible Hand”, by its nature, is insensitive to the common good.

Kind Regards from Naples


Greg Collins USAID, United States of America

Please find the following comments from Greg Collins on behalf of USAID Washington.

1. All development and much of what is done under recovery by humanitarian actors enhances resilience if done well.  What seems to be new under the (re)emergent resilience agenda is a focus on areas with the greatest resilience deficits (measured by a combination of risk exposure and vulnerability and proxied by humanitarian spending over the last decade).  Along with this, there has been a more explicit analytic and programmatic recognition that shocks (and stresses) are not anomalies, but recurrent features of these landscapes suggesting that reducing risk and enhancing adaptive capacity to both acute shocks and longer-term stresses must feature centrally in any effort to build resilience at household, community or systems (ecological, social, economic) levels.  Resilience is best understood in relation to specific shocks and the focus should be on those that are recurrent (i.e. drought, rather than unpredictable political crises).  However, resilience itself is likely to be a more generalizable capacity.

2. Difficult to answer and dependent on the causes of protracted crises.  To the extent dynamic stability in the face of shocks and stresses is a necessary (even if, alone, insufficient) condition for resilience, conflict management will be central to improving the capacity of households and communities to manage through shocks and stresses.  This points to the important links between conflict and food insecurity - each as a cause and result of the other.

3. Measuring resilience is a challenge.  Topline measures such as reductions in humanitarian assistance needs (normalized by severity of shock/drought), depth of poverty, household hunger (HHS) and Global Acute Malnutrition provide important insights into whether outcomes of being resilient have been achieved.  However, resilience itself is better understood as a USAID's definition, 'the ability to mitigate, adapt to and recover from shocks and stresses in a manner that reduces vulnerability and facilitates inclusive growth'.  Measuring capacities, such as the ability to lean on others in times of stress, is more challenging than measuring outcomes for which  the state of  the science is fairly well advanced, particularly as such measures rely heavily on self-perception (as informed by measurement of resilience in social psychology).  Nevertheless, measuring these capacities is the only true means of gauging gains in resilience, particularly in the event that resilience is not being tested (i.e. no shock).

4. Much of the effort layer action across a number of sectors is informed by an understanding of the multi-dimensional nature and complexity of resilience.  There are modelling approaches that will allow us to predict the additive and multiplicative impacts of such efforts, however - given the paucity of data - investing in robust systems to evaluate the impact of investments being made now may be more critical to the learning agenda than modelling with incomplete data and overly assumptive assumptions.

5. The energy behind the current resilience movement is in many ways inspired by the intersection of 3 imperatives; a. humanitarian (lives, livelihoods, dignity), b. developmental (lack of resilience as a drag on economic growth as shown in the $12b in losses associated with drought in Kenya between

2008-2011 and c. an economic imperative as demonstrated by DFID's value for money research.  The last is particularly compelling in an era of austerity.  For example, the USG alone spent $1b in humanitarian assistance in the Horn in 2011.  It simply is not sustainble.

6. Scale is part of the equation.  However, it is the effective sequencing, layering and integration of both existing and new humanitarian and development investments that likely matters more.  If we can prove the value added of such a strategic approach at a local scale and humanitarian and development partners working on national strategies guided by effective government counterparts, we can build out a mosaic of effective resilience enhancing actions as a means of bringing it to scale. 7. We needn't look far and forward to see what happens when climate change and variability and population growth rates causally collide.  Niger provides a case in point.  While both suggest that any effort to build resilience is akin to swimming up stream, this only underscores the need to make these investments now.  It also underscores the need to factor in these longer-term stresses into analysis, decision making and - ultimately - responses.  The effective use of climate information is also an essential aspect of adaptive capacity (itself a pillar capacity at the heart of resilence), be it at the household, community or national/regional level. 


Moderator and FSN members

From my understanding it requires building resilience at multiple levels for addressing food insecurity in protracted crises. The levels can be ranged from household, community, regional, national and international. If the resilience measure fails at one level the measure of other level can protect at least from critical misery. The degrees of effectiveness of the measures vary with root causes of protracted crises.

The funding from external source can be a solution but I am concern with community institutions that have been destroyed by state and international agencies. For example, indigenous people have community institutions to protect from extreme misery. The institutions were established and function based on local practices of management of natural resources. The interventions of the external agencies have destroyed the opportunity to be hedged by the community institutions. For example, the livelihood supporting resources of communal uses of forest and pasture are destroyed by greedy agencies to increase high area of forest cover such as in India. It has seriously hampered various opportunities (from indigenous knowledge transfer, community interaction, and food security) based community resources and institutions. Some international forest policy analysts recklessly argued that the attachment of forest based people should be delinked  to conserve forest and environment. Please read the following articles.

1 Ferreira, J., et al. 2012. Forest biodiversity, carbon and other ecosystem services: relationships and impacts of deforestation and forest degradation. Edited by John A. Parrotta, Christoph Wildburger & Stephanie Mansourian. In Understanding Relationships between Biodiversity, Carbon, Forests and People: The Key to  Achieving REDD+ Objectives. A Global Assessment Report. IUFRO World Series Vol. 31. Vienna.

2. Kapos, V. et al. 2012. Impacts of forest and land management on biodiversity and carbon. Edited by John A. Parrotta, Christoph Wildburger & Stephanie Mansourian. In Understanding Relationships between Biodiversity, Carbon, Forests and People: The Key to  Achieving REDD+ Objectives. A Global Assessment Report. IUFRO World Series Vol 31. Vienna.

Champak Ishram
community based organization



Lors des précédentes crises politico-militaires qui ont frappé la Centrafrique, les stocks de semences ont été pillés ou consommés face à la pénurie. Les centres de production de semences sélectionnées ont été également pillés. Le projet de réhabilitation du système de production et de distribution de semences a été mise en place. Cela a permis de distribuer des semences et outillage aux paysans des zones sinistrées. Les réseaux de groupements des producteurs de semences ont été reconstitués pour constituer la banque de semences, afin d’assurer la diffusion et la pérennisation du système.

Toujours dans le même sens, un projet de développement des jardins potagers a été mise en place dans les écoles des zones sinistrées. Pour permettre aux enfants d’avoir des légumes dans leur alimentation.

En conclusion, pour améliorer la sécurité alimentaire dans les crises prolongées, je proposerai :

-la mise en place d’une banque de semences

-le développement des cultures maraîchères

Adèle Irénée GREMBOMBO

Ingénieur Agronome Nutritionniste

Naomi Baird Concern Worldwide, United Kingdom

This is a very interesting and stimulating discussion, with the diverse range of experiences and opinions being shared indicative of the wide ranging nature of addressing resilience building in areas of protracted crisis.  As we all testify, this is not a simple feat.  The growing understanding of the interrelatedness of systems, structures, processes, shocks and stresses is drawing together different schools of thought and practice in the public and private domains, in an attempt to address this challenge in a more joined up and systemic way.

I would like to echo the inputs already made by my colleagues in Afghanistan and Ethiopia, and build on them, predominantly drawing upon Concern's experiences in the Sahel and Horn of Africa.  

1.    What are the strategies that have been successful in building resilience? Can we build resilience in general or does it always have to be in relation to a (known) type of shock?

There is a consensus emerging on what needs to change in the delivery of aid including integrated multi-sector programming that brings together the different tracts of humanitarian, development and environment sectors, but this is a new progression requiring further research going forward.

Concern’s learning from projects in Niger includes; the importance of combining cash transfers and malnutrition interventions with interventions in other sectors that address the causes of malnutrition and food insecurity; and, the need to consider making cash transfer programmes conditional on certain health behaviours, or combining it with food aid or vouchers. To account for the diverse uses of cash transfers, it is also important to develop and monitor nutrition and food security indicators as a measure of the success of the programme.

In 2010, USAID’s Famine Early Warning System Network indicated that Moyale District in the Horn of Africa was at risk of becoming ‘highly food insecure’. This warning led Concern, in collaboration with the government and local partners, to begin an early scale up of High Impact Nutritional Interventions across Moyale District. This included recruiting and training health workers, supporting the Ministry of Health to open six new health facilities, the distribution of water purification tablets and a food voucher scheme for 3,000 poor households.

The result was that between December 2010 and July 2011, the rate of severe malnutrition fell in Moyale (from 3% to 1.5%) whereas in the two neighbouring districts it increased dramatically. In Moyale, the general acute malnutrition rate increased only slightly whereas in the other two districts it increased substantially; the rate in Moyale was half that in the other districts. Several factors combined to enable Moyale to fare better than neighbouring districts:

  • Resilience was promoted over time through contextually appropriate, multi-sectoral interventions. Government capacity to respond was strengthened.
  • There was an early, multi-sectoral scale up of food, nutrition and livelihood interventions. There was coordination among agencies, with Concern working with local government services, the World Food Programme and another NGO, World Vision.

In Concern’s opinion it is important to build resilience to specific types of shocks. The shocks to which people are highly vulnerable vary across contexts: for instance, in the Sahel and Horn of Africa regions it is drought, in the DRC it is conflict. However, people’s vulnerability to shock is not only determined by the types of shocks they face, but also by the rate of change and the interconnectedness of factors affecting change. It is the interaction of shocks and stresses that erode people’s options and ability to cope – and contribute to creating full-blown crises.

In the Sahel region for example, it took only a 3% dip of food production in 2012 to trigger a massive food and nutrition crisis. This is due to recurring drought cycles, price rises and disease. Therefore, efforts to build resilience must not only take into account the defining ‘shock’ but also the wider shocks, stresses, their pace and interaction.

2.    What programming has improved food security in protracted crises?

In the first place, it is important to stress that food and nutrition security must be addressed together. In turn, the causal framework that links food and nutrition security to a crisis must be understood from the outset. Although lessons learned from programming are context specific, there is evidence to support the following programmatic interventions to improve food and nutrition security in times of crisis:

  • Smallholder productive capacity: in order to have most impact on local food security, especially for the poorest
  • Agro-ecological practices: in order to restore degraded lands, boost yields, livelihoods and resilience
  • Climate smart programming: in agriculture and livestock to build and maintain people’s returns on assets in the face of climate change
  • Integrated programming: addressing all the underlying causes of food and nutrition security has greatest impact
  • Social protection and cash transfers: in order to ensure access to food for the poorest when food is available on the market and when access to food is a challenge
  • Early response to early warning: to scale up preventative activities in a timely manner so as to avert a crisis
  • Address the policy landscape: to build an enabling environment that supports the poor and marginalized and contributes towards their efforts to build their resilience to shocks.
  • 3.    How will we know we are on the right track to produce resilience?

The question of how to measure resilience is a work in progress. Concern Worldwide is committed to contributing towards the growing global evidence base on resilience. Concern is working in collaboration with Tufts University to assess the impact of programmatic work on community resilience in Chad. Our measures of impact and success are based on evidence of reduced inequality, risk and vulnerability.

Better nourishment can be evidence of improved returns on assets, reduced inequality, and reduced vulnerability since a well-nourished individual will be more resilient. We are also using livelihood, diversification and coping strategies indices to measure success. The real test will be to assess how indicators fare during crisis years.

4.    Can we predict and quantify the effects of action across a number of sectors in advance?   Do we need to?

In the context of climate change, population growth, and natural resource scarcity, programming for resilience will not take place in a static environment where impacts can be accurately predicted in advance. Thus, taking stock of external factors that shape resilience will have to occur on a regular basis.

5.    Why have we not done better to date?

Despite sophisticated systems to detect the onset of hazards, governments (both national and international) can lack political will to take preventative action.  The costs of this failure, both in human life and financially, can be colossal. Mitigating other factors that cause delayed reactions (agency decision making, accountability etc) can only be effective if political constraints can be resolved.  Foreign governments will weigh up a response with their own political agendas and their decision may not be determined by the humanitarian imperative.  National governments may not want to tarnish their international image, or perhaps show less interest if marginalised communities are most affected.  This means agencies must be more effective in their advocacy efforts.

Early response also falls through the cracks between the remit of the humanitarian and development sectors. This occurs in donor governments and other funding institutions, as well as within agency’s own approaches to programming and how aid workers even understand their job specs.  There is bifurcation throughout the system!  When early warnings are sounded the system is ill equipped to respond appropriately.  There is a call for a new paradigm, a fundamental shift in the aid architecture, that moves out of silos towards more integrated programming in order to build resilience and manage risk.  At a minimum DRR approaches need to be taken up by the development sector whereby long-term programming can respond to early warning triggers and adapt according to needs.  As mentioned previously, social protection will be vital to this.

The key question is “how” to create more holistic programming that integrates disciplines and communities of practice necessary to affect synergies for impact.  So far, DRR, CCA, Social Protection have worked in isolation, and are all fairly new disciplines. Continued separation leads to policy incoherence, ineffective use of resources, inefficiencies, duplication, and competition.

Communication, coordination and collaboration between institutions and government departments that deal with climate change, DRR, development etc pose serious challenges to tackling issues through a resilience lens.  Often governments own disaster management bodies and their climate change departments do not talk to one another, let alone do joined up planning.  At institutional level, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change only very scantily incorporates DRR strategies (due to political push back), and the Hyogo Framework for Action, as non-legally binding, struggles to be taken on board by non DRR bodies.  More functional ways of operating and connecting need to be established, something that needs to be taken up and addressed by the planners and budget holders.

The close association between DRR and humanitarian actors (responsible for relief response) is preventing this work being taken up by development and climate actors.  The perception of DRR as primarily a humanitarian concern is an anachronism that must be overcome.

Linked to this is the funding issue, whereby DRR interventions are largely funded by humanitarian aid.  This reinforces DRR as a humanitarian responsibility, rather than supporting it being taken up the development agenda.  Conversely taking on DRR with its more development style norms, can be seen to impact upon the humanitarian imperative and the ability of actors to carry out interventions based on humanitarian principles.  The funding of CCA initiatives from environmental budgets can also be seen to keep CCA from being taken up by development actors and keeps this climate work separate and isolated.  Funding through multilaterals only acts to enforce these divides and does not support integration.

The international aid architecture is not set up to promote resilience approaches.  Humanitarian actors specialise in response not prevention, and do not have long term sources of funding, yet they are now moving into longer term programming covering an ever increasing array of duties that stretch their mandate, principles and skills base.  Development actors on the other hand are still reluctant to see preparing for and mitigating shocks as part of their remit and generally wish to continue with business as usual, whilst also lacking the flexible funding needed to scale up activities to avert disaster.

Long term flexible funding is needed in order to strengthen resilience of communities. Programming needs to be integrated, and a body of evidence built up that examines the ins and outs, pros and cons of this approach.  Established best practice will support donors to put their money in the right places.

There is little interaction between the fields of expertise, practice and policy, of all these areas identified as necessary for resilience to develop.  There exist inherent scepticisms of one another’s fields as well as differing perspectives, tools and methods that all contribute to difficulties in building synergies between the approaches.  Demands from field applications for more joined up approaches will be necessary to bring together the thinking and planning for resilience, with back up given by bilateral and multilateral donors.

However, contrasts and conflicts do exist between the domains, and these cannot be ignored or left unaddressed.  To move forward in a constructive and effective manner a deep examination of the tensions and stressors in trying to align the approaches in a more coherent fashion needs to occur.  Resilience cannot afford to be pure rhetoric but must be underpinned by thorough analysis and research.  The pitfalls and trade-offs for moving these domains closer together in a more systematic manner must be determined and taken on board e.g. operating at different levels, short or long term perspectives, programmatic overload.  Unfavourable conditions for such a merger need to be identified immediately.

As well as identifying the political implications, costs, benefits and pay-offs of promoting a resilience agenda, strong leadership will also be required if it is to advance in a systematic way.  This is somewhat of a catch 22 as resilience cannot be led separately under a separate department or body as its very aim and strength lies in bridging and uniting all the different sectors that need to work collaboratively to ensure that development is sustainable and manages risk.

In many countries experiencing protracted crises the national and local government capacity is often too challenged to integrate different approaches to effectively build resilience.  This can also be said to be true of development agencies and NGOs.  Not only can institutional capacity be weak, but the capacity of individual staff also needs reassessing and people need to be able to wear several hats to be able to manage integrated programming.  If donors continue to promote resilience as the way forward, they will also need to put their money into building capacity to do so.

Designing resilient programming will require cross-disciplinary learning, planning and implementation, requiring new innovative ways of working.  Evidence for this way of working being more cost efficient, as well as effective, needs to be generated.  Scaling up such innovative programmes also poses challenges which must be tackled if significant impact is to be achieved.

Countries faced with food and nutrition challenges in a context of protracted crisis are also amongst the fastest growing in the world. However, often economic growth at the national level has not served the poorest groups in societies and has instead resulted in increased equality gaps between the poorest and the richest. Addressing inequalities at the national level is crucial, but global inequalities will also need to be addressed.

6.    Is it just about scale? Do we just need bigger programmes? Is this affordable?

It is about scale as well as coherent and integrated policy planning, not just about bigger programmes. Political will is necessary to achieve impact and scale, beyond resilience programming. In order to improve resilience, country governments cannot stop at producing a resilience strategy for example, they must commit to work on policies and investments that aim at reducing inequality and vulnerability. In the same way, donors cannot just fund resilience programmes without ensuring that their domestic and international policies are conducive to enhancing resilience in developing countries, and at the global level. In terms of funding, long-term commitments are required so that the life span of resilience programmes is longer than the typical 3-5 year projects currently being supported.

7.    Demographic and ecological changes are probably the most predictable causal factors that will have a major impact on resilience in the future -- how should we plan for this? Can we predict the consequences of inadequate action? Should we try to?

There is a wealth of evidence regarding the expected costs of inaction, trade-offs and lowest hanging fruits that take climate change and resource scarcity into account. However, there is a lack of decision-making or prioritization of tools that can enable countries to go from policy planning to action. In this sense, incentives and barriers to implementation of specific policies must be identified, and decision-making tools that can help policy-makers prioritize actions are needed.

Alessandro Villa European Commission (ECHO, DEVCO, EEAS), Italy

European Commission participation to the E-conference “Addressing food insecurity in protracted crises: Resilience-building programming”


Firstly, it is our opinion that building resilience is not an option but an imperative to increase the effectiveness of both development and humanitarian aid. The recent disasters in the Horn of Africa and Sahel illustrate clearly that development has failed to prevent the impact of recurrent climatic variation on vulnerable communities, and that humanitarian resources are not adequate to prevent widespread asset loss, erosion of livelihoods, acute under-nutrition and in some cases excess mortality during crises. In a context of increasing population and proliferating shocks, it is a requirement that different stakeholders join together to work in different ways - this is the underpinning raison d'être for resilience building.

Consensus has been reached on a series of conditions concerning resilience building in particular in protracted crises. For example,

  • Joint Analysis: as a necessary starting point involving collaboration, coordination common vision, common strategy and programming, and common monitoring and reporting frameworks between humanitarian and development players is key to enhance aid effectiveness. Within the European Commission, the Joint Humanitarian/Development Framework provides a tool for better doing analysis, and the example of the US joint planning cells is a good one that implies some institutional or at least organizational changes
  •  Understanding risk and vulnerabilities: Resilience building requires ad hoc solutions that should be tailored to the specific situation in the field. This requires and in-depth analysis of vulnerability, livelihoods (existing and potential) and wealth groupings, exposure to shocks and coping capacities in order to identify who is vulnerable/ non-resilient to what. This implies shifting paradigms of government and development partners to focus on the most vulnerable (and less on conventional 'growth models'), and humanitarian actors to take into stronger consideration long term implication of crises management. This would be a major step towards 'doing business differently', as required to increase the effectiveness of aid.
  • Social transition and transformation: Many vulnerable communities are going through large transitions from traditional livelihoods to new or diversified livelihoods (e.g. pastoralists in the Horn of Africa and Sahel): it is imperative that governments and development partners understand the dynamics and the future aspirations of people in transition and social transformation, often needing a generational time horizon.
  • Short, medium and long term visions: The participation of all parties and stakeholders that share vision and strategy is necessary for long lasting interventions. Therefore, continuous dialogue among donors and strong relationships between partner countries and regional organisations are needed. Humanitarian action should as far as possible be aligned to longer term development processes, and avoid a start-stop modality.
  • Social protection and the provision of basic services: Both contribute to resilience through building human capital, and act as a foundation for more meaningful resilience to be built. Governments should continue to expand social protection and the provision of basic services to the most vulnerable while development partners should support this effort making it more sustainable. Along these lines, humanitarian action can potentially act to expand and contract social protection/ basic services in times of crisis to ensure that affected people are protected.
  • Ownership of local authorities is necessary and resilience programmes should be country- driven; however, for humanitarian interventions, humanitarian principles must be respected,
  • Stop thinking and acting in 'silos': multidisciplinary, multi-sectoral, multi-level, multi-partner, strategically and jointly planned, holistic approach is required
  •  Address social inequities: to build resilience in a sustainable way, social inequities need to be a focus of development and governance of national governments. Peace and stability is a prerequisite.
  • Common monitoring and measuring framework: to inform decision making which means to allow to be responsive to evolving needs and for accountability reasons /vulnerable populations targeted by the resilience approach and /EU tax payer (aid effectiveness, value for money considerations): This is an ongoing challenge.


However, although the overall theoretical framework of resilience building is quite developed and well defined, it is much less clear how to put those (and other) elements together in a real scenario making the complex mechanism workable.

The European Commission has been in the forefront of two initiatives that, from their conception, were meant to put together all elements that would contribute to the resilience building.

  • The Alliance Globale pour l’Initiative Resilience (AGIR) initiative, officially launched in December 2012 together by the Commission and the partner countries in the Sahel region, addressed the resilience building in one of the areas most exposed to recurrent crises. The initiative has been conceived as an opened forum in which different parties and stakeholders (national governments, regional institutions, donors, technical partners, UN, private sector, NGOs, farmers associations and other civil society players, etc.) have been put together around a table to discuss and agree upon a common vision on how to strengthen the resilience against the recurrent crises factors (drought, floods and other food crises leading risks such as economic and political vulnerability have been the main focus) of the most vulnerable populations in the region. The forum allowed to design regional priorities incorporated into a regional strategy in which all parties have contributed and now share.
  • The Supporting the Horn of Africa's Resilience (SHARE) initiative, which is a joint humanitarian-development approach to improve the ability of people, communities and countries to face persistent and acute emergencies. Built on the experience the EU has in collaborating with development partners in the Horn of Africa, the EU together with its Member States worked to develop a response to the drought that hit the region in 2011, the worst in 60 years. An increase in short-term development financing to support the immediate recovery phase together with a long-term structured approach to recover after the drought were put in place

As a next step, regional strategy is now being translated and adopted at national level by national players to mirror the regional one. The stakeholders of the resilience against food crises are discussing together with the objective to identify the strategies and the mechanisms to enhance the capability of vulnerable population to absorb shocks and to adapt to then in a sustainable manner. As far as we are aware, this is the first time that a so inclusive mechanism has been put in place. The added value of the mechanism is a political pressure and a cross check scheme where each party stimulates and control the work of the others in the framework a common vision, with a shared objective and adopting common indicators.

Concerning the dynamism of the resilience building, we believe that it cannot be achieved only looking back to the past, although it has to be built on good practices and lessons learnt. A clear understanding of the present and future risks, including the aspirations of vulnerable people undergoing livelihood transitions, should be in the centre of the radar of policy-makers.

Demographic and ecological changes are the main elements to be clearly taken into consideration while designing strategies of resilience building with a long term prospective. Demographic issues and their consequences are part of the precise responsibility of local, national and regional authorities. The underestimation of the demographic phenomena could clearly lead to the failure of resilience building policies designed on the basis of a status quo situation without taking into strong consideration the future possible/probable scenarios. On the other hand, ecological and climate changes are barely under control of policy-makers in protracted areas countries, therefore adaptation measures only can be in their agenda, while mitigation policies are under the responsibility of international communities. Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Agendas should be well coordinated to ensure adaptation and disaster reduction.

Concerning the issue of specificity of resilience building, we believe that a lot of interactions are possible among risks and, therefore, a population that reduce its vulnerability against a risk would most probably reduce its exposure to a combination of risks at the same time. However, while designing resilience building policies, the identification of the risks to be addressed should be clearly defined and policies should be as specific as possible. Yet, interactions between risks should also be considered and synergies among resiliencies to different kind of risks should be promoted. Multi-risk response mechanisms could also be explored, but improved policy design tools are needed to ensure effectiveness and efficiency of those response. Finally, concerning priorities for policy-makers, risks should be addressed depending on the probability of their occurrence and their potential impacts, both elements to be identified through risk analyses, built on an in-depth understand of vulnerability and livelihoods dynamics. Such analysis should jointly involve different partners coming from both development and humanitarian environment to ensure taking into consideration the different perspectives and needs.



Morwenna Sullivan ACF, United Kingdom

ACF’s focuses on the prevention and treatment of undernutrition. We recognize that combatting the underlying causes of undernutrition will involve preventive interventions which range from food security and livelihoods protection and enhancement, to care practices, access to health and WASH facilities and social protection.  Thus a comprehensive coordinated approach forms the basis of any action.  Resilience building must focus on reducing people’s vulnerability to shocks and stresses and seasonal fluctuations while also addressing long term structural vulnerability affecting the nutrition security of the population, especially children under five.

For ACF, strategies which have been successful for resilience building encompass a number of programming conditions:

  • A thorough understanding of the dynamics of natural and man-made hazards affecting nutrition security in the Sahel. This must inform a context specific needs analysis which includes analysis of seasonal vulnerabilities for underlying causes of undernutrition – coupled with analysis of risk of future disaster and undernutrition.
  • A holistic, multi-sectoral, integrated approach in which all nutrition sensitive actions reinforce each other.  Well-timed activities which targets different layers of society as appropriate from the individual level through to the household, and community. Ideally this should be complemented by interventions targeting policy makers at national and regional levels.
  • A multi-phase approach. In the event of a crisis, humanitarian needs are prioritized, with resilience building outcomes relating to FSL (and other underlying causes of undernutrition) identified. Emphasis is on needs assessment and analysis and support to existing projects that act to measure and manage severe acute malnutrition.  This leads into medium-term rehabilitation combined with resilience building. Examples include support to the health system coupled with upgrading preparation and response systems and hazard-proofing existing and new infrastructure linked to early recovery and rehabilitation operations.  The emphasis should also be to build capacity of government and CSOs.  The final stage incorporates long-term reduction of structural vulnerability.  Action here aims to address the causes of disaster and undernutrition and assuring that communities are supported by responsible and capable local institutions and the international system. 
  • Multi-layered targeting able to identify and address specific needs and opportunities at individual level, household and community level and at government (local and central) level, which  takes into account factors that can increase people vulnerability.
  • A flexible and adaptive approach, allowing different programme elements (targeting, beneficiaries, activities, calendar, budget) to be adapted according to evolving needs and/or changes in the context.
  • Long term commitment form governments, donors and civil society
  • Strong coordination between international communities, governments, civil society, the private sector, research, and other stakeholders in order to better understand the challenges, the opportunities and the objectives of resilience building and achieve agreements on roles based on comparative advantages and added value.
  • Strong leadership effort from governments (where possible) and from other actors in more fragile states, with progressive empowerment of authorities ranging from local to central level.
  • The capacity to foster inclusive economic development benefiting the poor while protecting them with appropriate and safety nets tailored to needs.

For ACF, priority areas to build resilience include:

  • Nutrition interventions in under-fives and mothers (at scale and with high coverage)
  • Protection and development of dietary diversity and addressing  the imbalance of women in local food systems  (with focus on complementary foods for 6-24moths old)
  • Protection of assets (with in ACF’s seasonal thinking and resilience response in 3 phases as described in pt 4 above)
  • Prepositioning of CMAM resources to mitigate seasonal surge of Severe Acute Malnutrition and Moderate Acute Malnutrition. Sustain and synchronise responses and ensure nutrition objectives within cross sectorial interventions at all levels.

Resilience programming has a lot to do with maximizing the nutritional impact of our interventions in different sectors. ACF has adopted a holistic framework in the fight for nutritional security, but this integrated, multi-phased and long term programming has mostly happened despite funding structures not because of them. Efforts by donors to provide a new financial framework, (which does not necessarily mean additional funding) will be key. Practitioners must have the flexibility to implement overlapping emergency response or rehabilitation or longer term resilience building activities at the same time, if the need arises. They are currently unable to do so due to the rigid funding mechanisms in place.  Flexible, predictable and long-term funding strategies, combining a traditional development programming approach with pre-positioning humanitarian reserves to enable timely response are crucial.

Programmes improving food security in protracted crisis foster a longer term vision which brings together actions that are able to comprehensively address vulnerability to shocks and stresses and to seasonal fluctuations as well as the structural vulnerability, reducing impact at all levels of society (individual, households, communities and states’ system and services).  Pregnant and lactating women, babies and children have heightened nutritional requirements, particularly between conception complementary feeding phase and age two. Resilience building strategies must therefore be planned and monitored in relation to how far they address these nutrition needs for children under five during ‘the window of opportunity’ of 1000 days to prevent impaired child growth, create healthy conditions for  women during pregnancy and that put the growing child at a lower risk of suffering from chronic diseases in adulthood.

In the Sahel and Horn of Africa regions, where hunger and under-nutrition are highly seasonal, integrating seasonality into information systems and programme design is crucial. Income, food prices, health, care practices, all determinants of undernutrition follow seasonal patterns. By thinking seasonally, and planning accordingly, and by combining humanitarian and development efforts, governments, NGOs and donors can put in place predictable interventions to strengthen the resilience of populations in order to prevent seasonal peaks in undernutrition reaching crisis point.  If stakeholders are serious about reducing the number of people affected undernutrition, if they really want to improve and save lives, to transform rhetoric into reality, a seasonal approach is imperative.

Innovative, flexible and context specific programmes are also key. One size does not fit all. We can make two examples, certainly not exhaustive. In Niger ACF’s food security and livelihoods teams are providing assistance which helps counter the negative effects of seasonal changes in food availability and food price fluctuations. Using a “warrantage” system, ACF teams help small farmers to access credit through micro finance institutions (MFI), using part of their harvest as collateral. The credit can be invested in other activities, while the harvest is stored until prices rise. At this point the farmer can buy back their harvest for the original price they sold it for and sell it on the open market for a higher profit. This system buffers small farmers against the effects of market price fluctuations and counters the vicious cycle where farmers are obliged to sell their crops at harvest time, at low prices, in order to purchase additional food and other essentials or to pay back loans taken during the lean season.

Another excellent example of resilience initiatives is the REPI program in Burkina Faso, which, thanks to flexible funding, has introduced safety net mechanisms to an existing development program following the 2012 drought crisis. This innovation has forced organizations to structure safety nets in way to reinforce and not harm the ongoing development program implemented with the same beneficiaries, and further enhance the climate change adaptation through land protection and rehabilitation.

Predicting and quantifying the effects of action across a number of sectors is essential. However the settings of specific impact monitoring systems should not be disconnected from our ultimate goal: the reduction of nutritional vulnerability, with particular focus on the 1000 day ‘window of opportunity’. We need now to include the reduction in rates of malnutrition as an impact indicator of successful resilience programming. For ACF, resilience will only be achieved when all interventions, in all sectors, measure their impact vis-a-vis the reduction of under nutrition.

Helga Vierich Canada

This is an excellent topic for discussion. I would like to start with the first question posed: 

What are the strategies that have been successful in building resilience? Can we build resilience in general or does it always have to be in relation to a (known) type of shock?

When I was working for ICRISAT in West Africa, I learned a number of things about traditional systems of food security and long term resilience in small village communities of farmers.  

One of the most important was that there were traditional practices in place that helped to buffer the people from the effects of drought and other kinds of crop failure.  These were the following: 

a) Senior members of lineages (kinship groups based on common patrilineal or matrilineal descent) had the right to extract a certain amount of communal labour from the households in their grouping, in order to maintain communal fields to generate surplus food production of major cereal crops.  These surpluses from good years were stored in special granaries and were reserved for the relief of the people who were hit by misfortune in normal years (such as a man breaking a leg or falling ill at a critical time) as well as more generalized droughts leading to overall crop failure.  So, with the extra "power" of their position, these leaders also had greater responsibility to ensure that here was a store of food that would see their members through bad years.  Some lineage heads had as many as six years cereal (sorghum and millet) in store.

b) Kinship ties through marriages between different village communities permitted access to land outside of a village if it was hit by a localized drought or flood or other form of crop failure. Regular ceremonial feasting at post-harvest festivals served to iron out grievances both within and between lineages and whole villages at critical junctures in the year when the need for cooperation and generosity might become critical for survival. 

c) There were people within each village who were always experimenting with new varieties of various crops, looking for better yield, drought tolerance, and insect resistance. These people, usually one or two in each community, were constantly on the lookout for such plants, and saved their seed and experimented on their own in ways that foreshadowed the more concentrated efforts of international institutes like ICRISAT and the FAO.  One man, while I was in the village, actually returned from a long trip (on his bicycle) that had taken him all the way to a village in Mali (from his home in Burkina Faso) to find and bring back a variety of extremely drought tolerant millet. 

I hope this contributes something of value to this discussion. I published these findings in the ICRISAT annual reports in the mid-1980s. I will check back and try to add more of our research findings on this forum whenever I can.  

Respectfully, Helga Vierich

Jean-Charles Le Vallee Food system specialist, Canada

Food systems exhibit economic, social and ecological thresholds that, when exceeded, result in changes in food system properties and services, thus impacting its sustainability, prosperity and levels of food security. The focus needs to shift to the resilience of food system properties and services to ensure food security when experiencing abrupt changes and chronic shocks. The more resilient a food system, the larger the disturbance it can absorb.

However, strong resilience is not always positive, e.g. areas depleted of natural resources are extremely resilient to change but provide little food security benefits in terms of food system properties and services. Resilience is experienced in the short term when faced with environmental, economic, demographic, technical, political and other acute shocks to the system. Aid improves short term resilience wealth benefits but development supports resilience growth and continuation. The aim is to remain within resilience thresholds (e.g. water - floods (high threshold) and droughts (low threshold)) and foster food security within steady tenable food system conditions, while reducing the potential for future food insecure conditions and food system failures to occur.

Food system resilience has several dimensions:

• Ecological resilience (slow dimension) denotes land-use change in physical and natural wealth, effectiveness in terms of resource utilisation and waste minimisation, its ability to support social and economic resilience, as well as food utilisation, without undermining ecological conditions and the natural ecosystems in which it operates. Food availability is largely coupled to this base;

• Economic resilience (fast dimension) symbolises the financial wealth of the system, economic growth and diversity in which it operates, the food provision chain that it rests on, its labour and capital productivity, and increasing incomes over time and the markets that it serves. Food access is mainly tied to this resilience dimension;

• Consumption Resilience (outcome dimension) is distinct from the other three resilience processes. It is a cornerstone of food system resilience as nutritional status indicates performance in which the individual participates in food systems. For example, it is possible for some individuals and household members to be food insecure in households enjoying food security. Conversely, certain individuals are well nourished even in households that are food insecure overall. Measurement of individual food security, whose access to food is regulated by intra-household allocation rules and processes, requires measurement of individual food utilisation, the third pillar of food security. This measurement is of particular relevance in selecting food poverty thresholds for analysis to distinguish between the food secure, the vulnerable to food insecurity, and the food insecure; and

• Social resilience (mixed slow/fast dimension) is designated as the human, political, and cultural wealth of the system, including safety-nets, levels of education, institutional stability, social cohesion regarding food system objectives, and both the political and cultural cohesion and enhancements of the standard of living of its host societies. This fourth resilience dimension is linked to the food security pillar regarding stability.

Food systems thus exhibit economic, social, safety, and ecological thresholds that, when exceeded, result in changes in food system properties and services. Investments in domestic food emergency preparedness and resilience-building are indispensable. Threats are constant. Aside from stock-to-use ratios showing tightness of the food supply, a nation must look into its diversity and reliability of transportation, food, and energy supplies; the share of consumption met through local and imported foods; regulatory compliance; measures to protect crops and animals from drought, pests, diseases; maximize reductions in food waste/losses, etc. Are national food contingency, emergency, and continuity plans in place? Can they be implemented? Is the gini coefficient low? Are food system participants working strategically towards common food security and resilience goals?

In crises, laddering resilience investments is necessary. Focusing on immediate economic resilience is the quickest and appropriate solution. Often labour productivity is the only resilience asset the indigent have. Thereafter, once health needs are assured, and some degree of temporary food security attained, other forms of social and economic resilience-building may begin to assume significance: e.g. agricultural extension, loans, basic literacy and numeracy leading onto business skills. As the development path grows, demands for resilience assets and connections rises, with additional investments in ecological resilience, and in food system properties and services beyond the primary sector.

It is more beneficial for food systems to exploit and reciprocate resilience for mutual benefit. By addressing the wealth aspects of resilience, a food system can reach food security and resilience goals, e.g. by promoting adequate incomes for producers; local and global diverse food production based upon agro-ecological principles; by offering protection of local agricultural lands and fish habitat; by ensuring widespread access to healthy, safe and nutritious food; and through social cohesion, allowing for the reduction of disparities, inequalities, and social exclusion. If the food system cannot deliver food and services on which people depend, sustainability declines, food system degradation occurs and the probability of becoming food insecure rises.

Peter Steele Agricultural Engineer, Italy

Developing resilience on global scale

Shifting direction – consider the larger picture

I was partway into my small contribution – exploring issues of water in society – before the contribution from Peter Carter of Canada cropped up. It set me thinking. Like most of the other contributors mine was to be a focused approach, wherein I thought I could put issues of water security into context representing as it does the basis of crop and livestock production that services the estimated 30% of the global land surface on which people normally live.

Mine was to be a contextual approach with establishing some parameters for addressing food insecurity in that on-going and protracted crisis in which the majority people in most low-income countries never have access to sufficient water for their needs. The same holds true for a handful of richer industrializing countries, but these same countries typically make a living from those extractive industries that comprise the basis for the imbalance that has been forced upon the atmosphere of Planet Earth; and continue to encourage the climate changes expected. These are people who can generally continue to purchase their current needs whether technologies, food supplies and/or manufactured goods.

Resilience building on global scale

Peter Carter steps back further and puts Planet Earth into context as likely to become unlivable by the standards enjoyed by those of us alive today; and certainly ungovernable within the draconian changes that a 4degC temperature rise will have on living space, food supplies, air quality and so on by 2100. And that’s without focusing upon the projected numbers of people who will need to be fed, the 80% urban world society that will have to be serviced, the higher living standards expected and more.

The magnitude of these issues overwhelms; the lack of consensus of what to do about it, the sometimes conflicting information available, the inertia that limits change, the human time-scales involved and more simply overwhelm most people. And, that said you, reading this, probably already belong to that minority rich (or at least the relatively affluent) proportion of humanity that has the luxury of time, education and freedom to give thought to the bigger picture.

The reality is, however, the limited vision of the majority people and, typically, the governments that they form (that continue to plan and invest on time-scales that span a handful of years). Peter Carter’s worst case scenario looms.

Taking out insurance

And what if Peter Carter and others promoting similar messages have got their magnitudes and timescales wrong; what if they are out by a century or two? This brings choices. In much the same way that I purchase house insurance – I prefer the security of knowing that I can replace my house should it be lost; and the premium required for doing so is simply budgeted into my annual outgoings. Can we build resilience into our current ‘way-of-life’? Your children’s children may have some of the answers to that particular challenge. You, of course, won’t be around to check them out, but you owe it to your descendents to promote those mixed programmes of sustainable social movement, investments, alternative energy use, land & water care, etc. that represent today’s first tentative steps.

And that thing about water and human development

Working in support of people in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) countries until recently, I was part of an agro-development team that was able to make a small contribution to the lives of >450 million people in the 20 countries that we consider make up the region. Climate change will impact adversely across this – the driest habitable region of the world, which brings me to my ‘water & society’ contribution.

Agriculture across the MENA region is likely to be severely disrupted by climate changes that are already underway. This will manifest with raised ambient temperatures of 2-3degC by 2100, decreases in rainfall of the order 20%, reduced run-off, rising sea levels of the order 400 mm and coastal inundation that may result in loss of productive land of the order 15%. Estimated 12-50 million people may be displaced. Flow in international rivers in the region will decline by up to 80%. Global movements of temperature bands northwards will bring risk of increased desertification.

Coping or mitigation effort is required for societies-at-large that people are able to accommodate the changes taking place. Agricultural production will be adversely affected; and the region with an additional 50% people by 2050 is likely to become even more dependent upon imported foods. How to build resilience into this kind of projection?

Scope for making better use of resources

Optimistically, changes can be introduced and managed. The MENA region has sufficient intellectual and financial resources to boost the efficiency of resource use for socio-economic development, including efforts to maintain stability within regional agro-production industries. Apart from water, agricultural production resources are relatively plentiful. The crisis of water supplies in the region are those of management not supply, and the result is that millions of people and the environment will continue to suffer because of the failures of national managers to make the changes required. Water productivity is expected to improve and less water will be lost; savings can be re-directed into new crops/lands. Intensification of production will help compensate for lands eventually abandoned to the sea and/or to desertification.

The result is one in which resources will be shifted into more efficient and productive use, and this will enable the region to continue to feed estimated 50% of regional people. Over time, however, regional/national managers should be establishing the trading networks that will provide the additional raw materials required with which to service domestic/regional agro-industries. Support will be needed to mobilize the institutional, educational, industrial and financial resources that will help produce the resilient socio-economies required of 2050 and later.


You probably need a forester on your team when planning for the long-term future - everyone else thinks short-term. If you come from the MENA region, your descendents will eventually thank you for your timeliness, resourcefulness and prompt action with the planning required of a water secure future.

Peter Steele

Agricultural Engineer



Georgina Jordan World Vision , Middle East and Eastern Europe, Cyprus

Dear FSN coordinator,

Very interesting points raised below.  Whilst I agree with most of them I think one of the key challenges with resilience is resilience of whom to what and at what level of intervention.  When we consider this as regards food security and protracted crises it could be argued that resilience building may even need to go beyond been  “context specific” and “flexible” and consider circumstantial issues that lead to the composition of livelihood and food security pathways as well as considering the underlying causes of the crisis.

Looking at this through a livelihood lenses taking into account production and consumption patterns, I agree that context largely dictates the broad parameters of what is possible in terms of building resilience at the household level (Safety net programs etc).  However, is it worth considering that within any given context personal circumstances play a key role in the construction of particular livelihood and food security pathways?

The evolution of these pathways is influenced to a large extent by contextual changes intermingled with personal circumstance which in turn influences the pathway.  In summary, context may form the initial thrust in livelihood or food security strategy decisions of small scale farmers but personal circumstance will influence the pathway and in some cases on-going protracted crisis can offer opportunities for households.

Therefore in order to improve people’s resilience we need to look beyond blanket  food security programmes and design projects particular to the household level. Households have different levels of inherent resilience.  In order to strengthen resilience in a protracted crisis programming needs to take into account individual household circumstances and everything that shapes them and how these factors interact and link together. The problem is this approach would be costly (!) and time consuming and poses many challenges in linking household needs to larger programmes.  Individual food security projects would need to be varied in line with the varying needs of households ( and in some cases individuals).

This is all quite complex and multi-layered.  Firstly the diverse livelihood and food security options utilised by people need to be identified.  Following this, the rationale of livelihood response and their linkages needs to be ascertained.  Finally the multiple influences on the rationale of response require identification, such as context versus circumstance.  This is clearly not straightforward and requires considerable resources. (Time and money!)  Such an approach may in the long run help us bridge that famous link between relief and development.

Juan Jose Aparicio Porres Vision Mundial, Bolivia (Plurinational State of)

¿Cuáles son las estrategias que han tenido éxito en la creación de resiliencia? ¿Podemos crear resiliencia en general o tiene siempre que estar en relación con un tipo (conocido) de crisis.

En norte Potosi, una zona del altiplano boliviano se produjo una sequia que hizo perder la capacidad productiva de las comunidades. Fruto de ello se implemento un proyecto de emergencia (primer año): atender con alimentos y entregar semilla de papa. Pero eso no se podia hacer todos los años, asi que en una segunda etapa se implemento un proyecto de seguridad alimentaria que tuvo las siguientes caracteristicas:

1. Participación de la comunidad.

2. Innovación tecnologica (se introdujo microtuneles para producir semilla de papa mediante brotes, tanques inflables para almacenar agua y habilitar zonas, silos de almacenamientos para granos, etc.).

3. Desarrollo de capacidades locales (a nivel de productor) mediante metodologias más practicas (escuela de campo).

Pero tambien nos dimos cuenta debemos involucrarnos en:

1. Desarrollo de mercados locales (semilla certificada).

2. Gestión en politicas publicas a nivel local (en Bolivia, los municipios).

3. Uso de alimentos (relacionado con una intervención multisectorial donde participe el sector salud y educación).

Creemos que se puede crear resilencia en general con acciones que incidan en las politicas publicas municipales. En nuestra experiencia creamos un fondo para proyectos en seguridad alimentaria donde las comunidades participan con propuestas sencillas y de bajo costo, este fondo es cofinanciado por el municipio y nuestro reto es que sea politica municipal.


Lieselot Germonprez Office of the Belgian permanent representation to FAO, Italy

To let strategies of “resilience building programming” working efficiently, it is necessary that different actors work together closely, especially at the field-level, and go further than the classic “joint programming” where funds often get lost in coordination- and administration costs. The good cooperation, coupled with an effective early warning system, during the Somalia crisis in 2012 between FAO, WFP and UNICEF, where the agencies adjusted their objectives to one another, based on each others comparative advantage, showed how this can bring success in building resilience. It is thereby important that agencies address the root-causes from disasters taking into account all aspects, while it is also important that financing is predictable, flexible and timely.  

As already stated by the Swiss delegate, it is essential to have a robust M&E system in place, to measure the resilience strategies and draw lessons for the future and evaluate if we or on the right track to produce resilience.  

Furthermore, it is essential to involve the local communities / governments / civil society already in the preparation-phase of the resilience strategies, taking account of the existing social capital and the identity - as far as opportune - of the local population, to make the resilience strategies work most efficient.

Finally, the spreading out of innovative schemes regarding social protection (micro-finance and weather related insurance systems included) and other (building of food-reserves …) are to be fully exploited.


Jan Eijkenaar ECHO , Senegal

Some practical recommendations, from a personal point of view, on how governance and aid choices and approaches may improve the prospects of lives, living conditions and opportunities of all in a society into and for their future:

A person’s resilience starts from conception. A pregnant mother needs to have access to vital nutrients, foods and care in a healthy environment and for her baby to be shielded from malnutrition and debilitating illnesses during the first years of life. Malnutrition permanently undermines a person’s, its community and country’s resilience and any potential to develop and thrive in a highly dynamic, changing world.

Several Sahel countries have some of the world’s highest infant and maternal mortality rates and they lack the basic governance foundations available and accessible for notably the sizeable and growing non-resilient part of its population. For them there is no equity.

Malnutrition represents a particularly high burden for the West Africa Sahel region. Of the estimated 74 million people living in its 6 main countries from Senegal to Chad (not counting Northern Nigeria, which harbours a malnourished population of similar scale), an estimated 5.0 million children under the age of 5 are chronically malnourished. This is well over a third of the 13.7 million <5’s estimated living in the Sahel this year. Another 830,000 children in this age group, most of them between 6 and 36 months old, are expected to become Severely Acutely Malnourished (SAM), malnutrition’s worst condition, in 2013. A child untreated for SAM has a 50% chance to survive.

These children and their mothers are at risk of adverse and often permanent consequences for their lives and prospects, because of their (early) stage in life and personal development. And they are at increased risk of becoming affected by socio-economic and food-security shocks, especially when already living strenuous livelihoods conditions. When looking at both aspects at the same time, one finds a very high correlation (studies show rates of 60% to even 80%) between the risk of becoming malnourished and of being raised in an ultra-poor family.

Vulnerability analyses are mostly taken from a food-security perspective (considering the latter risk-aspects, linked to food price-shocks, climatic shocks etc.). However, risk concepts that consider the persons in a specific category - in a stage of conception, birth and first vital growth - are far less widespread in vulnerability analyses. Considering the very strong link between malnutrition and socio-economic factors, for the effective prevention of under-nutrition, both approaches to risk are of vital importance and entirely complementary.

Prevention of malnutrition is therefore both an important and very concrete - in view of the 100,000’s of young children that require treatment every year, for a condition that is perfectly preventable - way forward to reduce the risks and levels of future food security crises in the Sahel as a whole, so intricately linked to the very high levels of malnutrition in the Sahel.

Preventative social protection measures such as safety nets will need to target the poorest households and persons as a priority. At the same time, all persons in the risk category (the <5’s and pregnant and breastfeeding women) will require actual - affordable, without financial, geographic and other such barriers - access to a minimum acceptable package of nutrition, health, immunisation and other associated curative and preventative care, the basic package of acceptable quality basic services. In sum: good governance.

The sense of urgency to make a basic package of essential basic services available so as to shield future generations from permanent personal disability and therefore from lack of their and their society’s resilience is striking, notably in the context of such high population growth.

Practical recommendations (non exhaustive) for immediate concurrent actions to improve the resilience of current and future populations therefore include:

* A common diagnosis with governance and development stakeholders, supported and informed by quality multi-sector evidence and expertise, to confirm, agree upon and own priority actions and policies, to be maintained for some considerable time to come, allowing for beneficial outcomes to take shape and supported by predictable realistic budgets;

* This includes a questioning of potential poor governance choices and practice too - which is complicated of course, and not entirely within the comfort zone of diplomacy and development cooperation perhaps, but necessary to reach actual progress towards more equity in real terms for those persons and populations most at risk of and affected by non-resilience;

* Measures to mobilise and scale-up the support of governance capacity at national and in particular decentralised levels (region, district, community) to help improve coverage of basic governance measures accessible by the least/non-resilient persons and to boost future good governance;

* Provision of the package of services and measures to allow for a comprehensive implementation of the 1,000-Day initiative and the treatment of Acute Malnutrition by national services and their development partners;

* Health user fee exemption for the population under the age of 5 and pregnant and breastfeeding women;

* Reliable supply of acceptable and controlled quality (reproductive) health, nutrition, wash, education, agriculture, livestock and other basic services inputs up to community level;

* Notably regarding reproductive health inputs, the principle of at least providing women and families until the most remote areas in a country with a choice to access these inputs appears to encounter serious and ill-justified opposition, based on untested hypotheses. Practice proves otherwise, no matter how religious and traditional an area may be perceived;

* Accessible minimum quality education, notably for girls until the age of 16;

* Targeted seasonal social transfers linked to nutrition and health outcomes using socio-economic criteria and approaches (such as on the basis of HEA) focusing on the Very Poor and Poor parts of the population. More sophisticated social protection schemes may be informed and developed on the basis of such practise when feasible;

* Accurate data collection and the transparent management of multi-sector early warning analysis and forecasting of food and nutrition security by a multi-actor governance-practitioner platform on local, national and regional levels;

* Maintain adequate quality emergency response capacities (that is: not to upscale attention to resilience at the detriment of emergency response) to help address the high (permanent) emergency needs until eventually hopefully the beneficial outcomes and impact of better “pro-resilience” governance and aid may become apparent.

Hope this is helpful for the discussion; of course these are personal views.


Kind regards from Dakar, Jan

Walter de Oliveira FAO, Sierra Leone

Dear FSN moderator

While perhaps not specifically responding to any of your proposed questions, I would like to make a link with food insecurity and hunger.

Resilience building is, among others, very much linked with food insecurity and hunger. We all agree that food security involves issues related to quantity, quality, availability and regularity and dignity. In order to build resilience, we need to tackle efficiently and at the same time, all the above aspects. Resilience building should also be targeting poor small-scale farmers and the farming communities around them. Although emergency measures are needed to alleviate severe problems, resilience can be built only through structural policies for employment and income generation coupled with strengthening infrastructures and building transferable human skills.

In many developing countries, food security dimensions, on which resilience should be built on, are related to demand insufficiency (income concentration, low purchasing power, high unemployment and sub-employment), incongruity between food prices and low purchasing power and exclusion of poor farmers from the market.

To break this perverse cycle, government need to intervene with actions to include those excluded into the food consumption market. The aid policy needs to be adapted to support government actions.

Basically, government and aid agencies need to create emergencies and permanent mechanisms to:

  1. a) decrease the cost of access to food for the low-income part of the population and;
  2. b) to encourage production, processing and distribution of local staple food and promote consumption. This requires expansion of micro-credit, professional qualification, incentive to micro enterprises, agrarian reform and an agricultural policy of incentive or smallholder farmers.

Resilience can be built by channelling resources to promote local food production and trade, as well as to develop links with structuring actions (public food procurement policies, establishment of trade channels, etc.). Since poverty is not restricted to the poor family, but it is strongly tied to the low economic drive of the village, district and the regional surroundings, resilience building strategies and actions need to have a territorial nature.

Thank you

pankaj kumar Concern Worldwide, Ethiopia

Dear FSN moderator,

I currently work in Ethiopia with Concern Worldwide and have been extensively involved in Resilience Building measure. Based on my experience, I would like to answer these questions.

  • What are the strategies that have been successful in building resilience? Can we build resilience in general or does it always have to be in relation to a (known) type of shock?

Any resilience building measure should have focus to be successful. For instance, resilience in general sense will not have an impact as these problems in many of the chronic vulnerable areas are immense relating to food insecurity, public health, education, etc. The focus helps us to define appropriate strategies and resources as interventions to public health are different from food security shocks. An example of good resilience programming in Ethiopia supported by ECHO is enclosed.

  • What programming has improved food security in protracted crises?

The programming that has focus on three areas are always beneficial

Short term to meet transitory food insecurity situations which are usually present and leads to many negative coping strategies, and the measures include social protection in different forms, seeds, livestock, food aid, nutrition education, management of acute malnutrition and other support that makes food available, access and utilization improved.

Medium to long term to meet chronic food insecurity situations and often leads to transitory food insecure situations, and the measures include natural resource management, access to improved seeds and livestock, extension services, linkages with market, private sector, irrigation management, access to improved health and nutrition services, gender empowerment, etc.

  • How will we know we are on the right track to produce resilience?

Indicators that are simple and easy to measure help to know that we are on right track. For example, though it will depend upon the situation for different scenarios indicators could be following:

Transitory food insecurity:  number of meals per day, change in dietary diversity, livestock reproduction, cash used for farm and non- farm purposes, performance of CMAM indicators, etc.

Chronic food insecurity: increase productivity per ha, increased income from non- farm sources, especially for women, increased coverage of vaccination, production sold in market vs consumption.

  • Can we predict and quantify the effects of action across a number of sectors in advance? Do we need to?

A good real time monitoring system will help in predicting and quantifying effects. A proper problem tree analysis helps in identifying appropriate causes and interventions. This is required to be done so that interventions are successful.

  • Why have we not done better to date?

Previously most of the programme focused on one sector rather than multi-sectoral and linkages between different sectors were often not understood as programming was led by sectoral specialist.

  • Is it just about scale? Do we just need bigger programmes? Is this affordable?

Scale is important but should be done only when pilot are successful. This is affordable as funding for many sectors are available and is only the question of ensuring linkages between them.

  • Demographic and ecological changes are probably the most predictable causal factors that will have a major impact on resilience in the future - how should we plan for this? Can we predict the consequences of inadequate action? Should we try to?

This definitely should be done as resilience is not to current risk but also future predicted and un-predicted risk such as demographic situations and climate change


Kind regards,


Pankaj Kumar

Addis Ababa Ethiopia


See the attachment: Resilience Paper.pdf
Nourou Tall FAO, Ghana

What government and aid policy changes are needed to be able to ensure multisectoral”, “context specific”, “flexible” , “responsive” etc action?

Niger national dispositif of food crisis and disasters prevention  and management lead by the Prime Minister cabinet is may be not perfect but is a good example of a platform where Government representatives, donors, NGO, Producers organizations and civil society sit to discuss and to make decision.

A contingency plan exists and each year a support plan to vulnerable households encompassing food security and nutrition is prepared with a clear budget according to identified needs. The Government, UN agencies and NGOs participate to its elaboration. The early warning system is part of that.

A common fund is managed by the dispositive for immediate response to crisis. Beneficiaries of the fund can be technical services of the Government, national or international NGOs. The gap can be covered through UN agencies or NGO channels.

In case of unexpected emergencies (floods, refugees), the funds can be used to respond.

All decision regarding the fund is taken democratically by the signatories of the convention.

The mandate of the dispositive is dynamic and is reviewed in a consensual manner.

Efforts are done to align the consolidated appeal process (CAP) with the support plan to vulnerable households to avoid duplication and to promote harmonization and synergy.

Attached find a document regarding food systems resilience.

Best regards

Rachel Scott OECD, France

Hi Malcolm and other participants

Just to let everyone know that we had a really fascinating meeting of the Experts Group on Risk and Resilience at the OECD yesterday. The group brings together donors, UN agencies, think tanks, NGOs, the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement and the OECD.  At the meeting we presented a number of papers:

What does "resilience" mean for donors? – clarifying what resilience means in practice 

What are the right incentives to help donors support resilience? – Investigating the role of incentives (and disincentives) in encouraging coherent donor support for resilience

How should donors communicate about risk and resilience? – Guidance on good practice on communicating about risks, opportunities and the results achieved from resilience programming 

Joint risk analysis – the first step in resilience programming – Adapting the G20/OECD methodological framework for disaster risk assessment for resilience programming

From good idea to good practice – options to make resilience work – Building on what has been learnt so far, a set of options to help ensure that resilience becomes an integral part of donor programming

The papers are supported by a major study that has involved case studies in Niger and the Philippines. 

The meeting agreed that there are a few things we need to get on with now:

(1) Advocacy around the post-2015 processes (2) developing simple guidelines for country teams, (3) piloting a joint risk assessment (including some more work on how to measure resilience), and (4) embedding resilience in donor processes, including through the use of a data marker.

The group is also strongly interested at looking at more work on extensive risk (the lower intensity, more frequent events); resilience of the private sector at local level; risk transfer/risk financing options; the governance of risk - which risks should be owned by households, which by communities and which by states?; and transferring lessons from OECD countries, the private sector (eg business continuity planning) and the military.

If anyone would like to become a member of the virtual group, where we share experiences and lessons, please email me at The papers will be published very soon too - at

Pauline van der Aa Ministry of Foreign Affairs , Netherlands

Dear FSN coordinator,

What is needed for building resilience is holistic long term planning and programming with both humanitarian and development actors. In the planning root causes of the protracted crises needs to be addressed to find sustainable solutions. Essential is co-ordinated  engagement, capacity and expertise should be drawn from different policy communities. Joint working across departments must be stimulated and held accountable for shared results.

In the programming, a mix of funding instruments (both humanitarian as development) has to integrated to stimulate a smooth transition from crises to development. Key in building resilience is national ownership.           

Alexis Bonte FAO, Ghana


As we all know Resilience is multi facettes and to build it, it requires also a more holistic approach addressing the livelihoods capital (as much as we can).

In several countries (uganda, honduras, nicaragua, ....) there have been some intersting projects combining :

1) technical aspects (disaster risk reduction, cliamte change adaptation and natural ressources management : the so called good agric practices (GAP) with

2) socio-economic aspects (savings and loans schemes at community level - SL).

These two aspects have been implemented through the Farmer Field School  (FFS) methodology (participatory learning process) which is the main conduit of the two first aspects (techn and socio economic). In addition, the FFS has a really important impact in terms of social resilience as the members are involved in a dynamic process combining community and individual interest with short and long term implications.

As most of the members are quite poor, it was also considered opportune to boost their initial SL capital through (temporary and conditional) cash for work activities. The funds they earned was split between investment for the SL capital and direct earnings for the member households to cover basic social needs.

After around 24 months of support from the project (funded by FAO but implemented with NGOs) these groups are also attracting other opportunites/services providers from NGO, Gvt, private sector (cotton, sunflower, coffee, ...) who consider these groups as having a big potential for success after having developped their capacities in terms of technics and financial skills and credibility. The additional/complemtary "services/opportunities" are key to further develop resilience of the group and members in a more comprehensive manner.

Some of these groups are also putting some "conditionalities" for their members to get access to the SL scheme; you have to apply the GAP (that have been identified by the group) to continue to benefit from the SL. Normal as the GAP represent a sort of "garantee" that you will have a higher probability to harvest more and better capacity to reimburse your loan. These reimbursement actually are savings for the members !

So it appears to be a quite interesting virtuous circle that would deserve to be shared.

Thanks for having taken this initiative ! And hope it can assist to develop concrete interventions for people.

Equipe FAO-REOWA FAO - Bureau sous régional des urgences et de la réhabilitation ...

Les cinq  pays qui répondent aux critères de crise prolongée définis par la FAO dans le rapport de 2010 en Afrique de l’Ouest sont: Cote d’Ivoire, Guinée, Liberia, Sierra Leone et Chad. Ces pays sont caractérisés par le fait que « une partie signifiante de la population est extrêmement vulnérable à la maladie et à la détérioration  des moyens d’existence sur une période de temps prolongée »[1].  Les pays du Sahel connaissent depuis les années 90 une augmentation de la fréquence des sécheresses qui s’est traduite en une détérioration  des principaux moyens d’existence aboutissant à une situation de vulnérabilité chronique dont les effets peuvent s’assimiler à ceux d’une crise prolongée.

Dans une situation ou les moyens d’existence d’un groupe ont été fragilisés sur le long terme, les effets d’un nouveau  choc, quelque soit son intensité, ont des conséquences dévastatrices sur les ménages vulnérables. Dans ce contexte, préserver les actifs face au risque constitue un point prioritaire pour un renforcement de la résilience, notamment pour permettre aux agriculteurs, éleveurs et agropasteurs vulnérables de produire leur propre nourriture et générer des revenus essentiels à leur autonomie. L’analyse des causes immédiates et sous-jacentes de l’insécurité alimentaire, la prévision des dangers et l’alerte précoce des décideurs sont cruciales pour garantir la sécurité alimentaire et les moyens d’existence des populations vulnérables. Le renforcement des systèmes d’alerte précoce nationaux pour une analyse de la situation de sécurité alimentaire plus fine se sont avérés de première importance lors de la crise alimentaire et nutritionnelle qui a affecté le Sahel en 2012. Une meilleure information permet aux ménages et aux dirigeants de prendre des décisions qui peuvent réduire l’impact de la crise sur les moyens d’existence, afin que le processus de renforcement de la résilience ne s’interrompe pas. Raison pour laquelle la FAO(, à travers son Bureau Sous régional des Urgences et de la Réhabilitation - Afrique de l’Ouest/Sahel - REOWA), participe activement au suivi de la sécurité alimentaire avec ses partenaires.

Comme l’a si bien dit Senait Regassa,  bien que le processus de renforcement de la résilience doive être un processus endogène, le acteurs exogènes ont toutefois un rôle important à jouer dans sa facilitation. Gouvernement et acteurs de développement doivent prioriser le renforcement de la résilience et travailler ensemble pour atteindre ce but. Un bon exemple vient du Sénégal, qui est entrain de définir sa stratégie nationale de résilience et compte sur ses partenaires pour faire face à ce défi. L’atteinte d’une certaine résilience face aux chocs nécessite de combiner le renforcement des moyens d’existence, la gestion des risques de catastrophe et des mesures qui tiennent en compte le changement climatique pour faire face aux causes sous-jacentes de la vulnérabilité. Ces trois secteurs incluent une vaste palette de thématiques  qui requière une approche coordonnée multisectorielle du renforcement de la résilience, permettant de couvrir les différents aspects qui consentent de bâtir une capacité d’adaptation face aux chocs. Sur ce plan, au Sahel, les différentes agences des Nations Unies ont mis en place une task force sur la résilience qui a pour but de servir de point de rencontre entre les différents secteurs afin de définir les synergies nécessaires pour faire avancer l’agenda de la résilience. Plus concrètement la FAO et le PAM ont décidé d'unir leurs efforts dans la réduction des risques de catastrophe et des approches de gestion pour réduire la vulnérabilité aux risques de catastrophe dans cette région à travers l’élaboration d’une feuille de route conjointe.

D’un autre coté, le problème de mise à l’échelle des actions de renforcement de la résilience passe par un grand nombre de facteurs, parmi  lesquels les mécanismes de financement bipolarisés entre l’urgence et le développement constituent un enjeu majeur. Actuellement, la plupart des acteurs ont axé leurs interventions  dans la réalisation de projets pilotes pour le renforcement de la résilience et les résultats de ces actions ne sont habituellement pas correctement diffusés. C’est sur la base de capitalisation et diffusion de bonnes pratiques que la mise à l’échelle de la résilience pourra survenir. La réalisation par REOWA d’un atelier de capitalisation des expériences liées à la préparation et réponse à la crise du Sahel de 2012, ainsi que la participation à l’atelier URD sur la résilience ont permis de mettre en avant les bonnes pratiques réalisées dans la région. Plusieurs activités ont été définies comme pouvant contribuer à   l’amélioration de la résilience face aux chocs climatiques et à la perturbation des marchés qui affectent périodiquement le Sahel. Entre les actions qui ont fait la différence en termes de résilience nous pouvons citer les systèmes de warrantage, les jardins maraichers, la production de fourrages ou le système de crédit rotatif de bétail entre autres. Plus de détails sur ces bonnes pratiques peuvent être consultés dans les fichiers en annexe.

[1] A. Harmer and J. Macrae (eds). 2004. Beyond the continuum: aid policy in protracted crises. HPG Report 18.

London, Overseas Development Institute.


Solomon Mkumbwa Columbia Global Centres Africa, Kenya


The mere fact that we are calling a crisis protracted means that it is a 'positive' crisis. That is, a crisis in which agents are actively agitating and confronting each other. Unlike a 'negative' crisis such as a natural disaster, origins of a positive crises can have deep rooted, often from some unresolved historical injustices - especially those linked to natural resources. Therefore, unless those issues are identified and possibly resolved, mere humanitarianism will only be supporting prolonged fighting.

Peter Carter Climate Emergency Institute, Canada

THE protracted crisis for food INsecurity is global climate change, or the multiple adverse impacts of global warming and climate change on crop productivity (please see site

At now unavoidable levels of global climate change the worst ever population and environmental health catastrophes must be expected and prepared for.   

Any strategy for addressing food security must put urgent action on greenhouse gas emissions at the top of the action agenda. If those working for food security do not urge rapid action on emissions, who will?

We have known for many years that the regions most vulnerable to global climate change are where the most socio-economically deprived and vulnerable live.

Since the 2001 IPCC assessment it has been established that small increases in the global average temperature reduce crop yields in African and lower latitude regions.  This also applies to 'localised small holders subsistence farmers and fishers' (IPCC AR4 2007). The food security therefore of billions of people is at risk at today's warming of 0.8C. Indeed research by Loebell out of Stanford has found discernible crop yield declines attributable to climate change affecting all the most vulnerable regions (Climate trends and global food production since 1980).

 The future is far worse. Firstly, our simple summation research finds that today’s committed warming is above 3C by 2100 (this agrees with expert opinion that we now committing the world to a 4C warming). At 3C these billions of the most vulnerable suffer crop yield declines of over 50% according to very incomplete (so assumed) underestimating climate crop models.

Second, it is now becoming clear that the best food producing regions of the Northern hemisphere are not invulnerable to global climate change this century as has been assumed. There is good reason to think that temperate Northern hemisphere crops are going to suffer losses in the near future. In fact the same climate crop models show that all crop s in all regions are tipped into decline above a 1C warming with one exception, which is mid-high latitude wheat with assumed high CO2 fertilization benefit, and this goes into decline at 1.5C. The CO2 fertilization benefit is a highly dangerous assumption as it ignores increasing plant toxic ground level ozone, weeds, pests, heat waves, prolonged drought and floods. On top of this we have the rapid decline of NH albedo cooling from Far North Spring- Summer snow and Summer sea ice cover. The air conditioner of the entire Northern Hemisphere is melting away. The FAO has advised the days of cheap are over.

We can therefore expect volatile food prices to rise to unaffordable  prices to the poor regions and the poor in all regions, as temperate NH crops are hit by increasing extreme weather events (more heat, drought and floods) - again affecting billions of people.

Only a radical reform of the world economy (that is badly biased to fossil fuel energy) and of the world food economy (badly biased against the most vulnerable populations) can mitigate the most terrible future losses of food and nutrition to billions of people.  


Resepectfully submitted for this most important consultation,

Peter Carter,   Canada

Mariam Al jaajaa CSM WG on Protracted Crises / The Arab Group for the Protection of ...

Dear FSN Moderator

Here are recommendations on Resilience taken from the Outcomes paper prepared by the Civil Society Mechanism  Working Group on Protracted Crises , prior to the HLEF on Food Insecurity in  Protracted Crises that was  held in Rome last year. The CSM Working Group hosts more than 35 CSO organizations that are very active in protracted crises contexts. 


  1. Need to ensure that strategies have a central focus on building resilience while aiming to resolve the structural causes of crises and their consequence on food insecurity. 
  1. Investment in resilience building processes that develop capacity to monitor, anticipate, respond to and manage known risks as well as uncertainties. Diversification and preparedness are key for flexibility. Further enablers of effective resilience building include:
  • Good Governance based on rights and decentralised and participatory decision-making with sound links between levels of governance 
  • Build trust through partnerships and collective action
  • Bring together local traditional knowledge with science and technology to enable learning and innovation 
  • Working holistically across scales with a particular focus on socio-ecological systems 
  1. Resilience may be fostered by a variety of initiatives including:
  • seeking alternative foods and food sources
  • barter systems
  • strengthening diversified local production
  • relying on locally produced food and material , particularly when delivering assistance and implementing development programmes
  • urban agriculture
  • support smallholders farmers and producers
  • initiatives that bridge the rural-urban divide
  • home economics
  • domestic (home-based) enterprise
  • marketing alternatives for small-scale farmers
  • resource management alternatives (E.g. seed banks, water harvesting methods)
  1. Mainstream Risk analysis as a fundamental starting point of long-term planning and building resilience
  • Strengthening institutions that are involved in Disaster Risk Reduction,
  • Supporting local institutions to engage in DRR (e.g.  Early Warning Systems, Early Warning Early Action, Surge Capacity, Disaster Risk Management committees, Climate Change Adaptation ,food reserves, social protection mechanisms, agriculture, etc.)
  • Responses must focus on mapping and supporting local effective coping strategies, while reducing the need for negative coping strategies as it increases future vulnerability.  
  1. Funding streams need to be adapted to be flexible and predictable. For example, multi - year budgets should include a margin for responding to emergencies. Development interventions/and funding for these should be flexible enough to adapt activities/objectives at times of crises. Hence surges for emergency response should be designed into long-term programming. The objectives of any programme in protracted crises should be both to meet immediate short term needs as well as longer term risks and vulnerabilities and thereby build resilience and address the underlying causes of food insecurity.
  1. A key strategy to addressing both short term needs and reduce the chronic vulnerability to food insecurity of affected people is to ensure there is access to a comprehensive social protection system Household-level vulnerability to poverty and hunger in a context of protracted crisis is often associated with threats to livelihoods. Important livelihood adaptations take place in protracted crises situations. Vulnerability can increase over the time if households face repeated shocks that progressively erode their assets. One function of social protection is to implement safety nets to prevent this, by transferring income, food and/or assets to vulnerable people. This represents a buffer to protect against the risk of losing all their assets while enabling people to participate in work and training that build communities’ long-term resilience.
  1. Social protection programmes in protracted crises are generally relief-oriented, externally funded and of limited scale, and they often lack domestic financial and institutional commitments and capacities to turn them into a national system. It is important therefore to frame social protection programmes as part of a more comprehensive national and regional food and nutritional, and income security policies. This needs to be consistent with policies that strengthen sustainable food production, local food systems, local and national food markets, and support small-scale food producers
  1. Need to prioritize the measuring and modeling of resilience to develop a shared and accessible platform for consolidating information,  and exploring how complementary tools can be brought together, for example household economy approaches with land use mapping and climate data projections. This could enable governments and others to capture the likely risks people will face, the potential impact of shocks and the cost and relative impact of different responses.

Thank you and best regards,

Mariam Al jaajaa

Co-facilitator of the CSM WG on Protracted Crises.

The Arab Group for the Protection of Nature

Albert Yeboah Obeng Foresight Generation Club, Ghana

1. New approaches is important and should be encouraged however the best and better methods should be tried and tested programmes which has achieve both direct and indirect position and measurable impacts in other regions and communities, user friendly programmes and innovation is a key requirement in building resilence .

2. Projects and programmes that is having the measurable and desired impact has been innovative and improved approaches that are user friendly and a practical examble of such projects is one of our ongoing projects which seeks to use Information Communication Technologial (ICT) tools and application which are user friendly to supporting existing farmers and new prospective farmers and smallholder farmers to improving food production and better and timely access to food and farm produce timely for the importance to prospective beneficiary communities and countries.

3. Better  monitoring and evaluation of projects and programmes will enable a good accessment of ongoing projects to determine how new projects should be designed and implimented in other areas of importance and need.

4. Prediction for upcoming and future projects can be based on the impacts of past projects and better information gathered on past projects and other factors which is really known in catchment and beneficiary communities and areas and hence such predications can be very useful to setting guidlines and committment for success and improvement for projects.

5. The lack of innovatio in the design and the lack of involvement of the local people in the core aspects of such projects has one of the key factors which has negatively affected the success of such projects in the past and there is the need to improve with time and work in collaboration with selected local stakholders in the beneficiaries.

6. The success and impacts of good projects does not depand on the largness and the bigger the project, however the better planing and judicious use of project resources including better finacial management and local collaborations is vital to projects success and impacts.

7. Demographic and ecological considerations are key to projects success and this needs to be done with project expert planners and also key local stakholders and actors who are skills and knowledgable in the prospective beneficiary communities and countries.

Eltighani Elamin ICARDA, Iraq

From my past experience with WFP and others food relief agencies, resilience to food insecurity depends on a spectrum of production and consumption pattern as well as the intensity of disruptions made by protracted conflicts. However, two factors are pro resilience regardless to severity of food insecurity, the first is the proper targeting to minimizing the total errors of inclusive and exclusive of needy people and the second is the dietary balance of the food ration distributed. Both factors should restore resilience though increased market led productivity and production of domestic food, albeit in the long term when conflicts are cooling down.  

Eltighani Elamin


петр Скрипчук Университет водного хозяйства, Ukraine

--- English version below ---

Учет современных эколого-экономических тенденций, методологических подходов в Украине и мире позволило разработать теоретические и методологические основы, которые заключаются в формировании концепции экологической сертификации продукции, услуг, технологий, объектов окружающей среды и в системе управления природопользованием, что является определенной совокупностью комплекса организационно-экономических принципов: налоговые и финансовые инструменты, институциональные меры, научно-методическое обеспечение и направлена ​​на реализацию государственного управления в системе природопользования.

Разработаны научно-методический подход к формированию системы экологической сертификации природно-хозяйственных объектов, который предусматривает: проведение экологического аудита и кластерного моделирования согласно предложенных показателей, учет уровней экологических рисков, принятия решений по разработанным социальным, экономическим и экологическим критериям, институциональное обеспечение и модель управления экологической сертификацией в природно-хозяйственных системах. Экономический эффект в результате экологической сертификации заключается в научно обоснованном развития экономики, использовании совершенных управленческих решений, проведении в дальнейшем экологической сертификации отдельных территорий, административных районов, природно-хозяйственных систем и в системе управления природопользованием.

Систематизированы способы введения экологической сертификации на различных уровнях, совершенствуют систему управления природопользованием и обеспечения экологической безопасности, обосновывающие совершенствованию институциональной системы управления качеством окружающей среды и экологизации экономики, раскрывающие приоритеты министерств, ведомств при формировании информационного обеспечения экологической сертификации в системе управления природопользованием. С этой целью разработан логистическую модель обеспечения безопасности в сфере природопользования. Доказано, что при этом целесообразно использовать обоснованные модели и проекты государственно-частного партнерства.

The due account of modern environmental and economic trends, the methodological approaches in Ukraine and in the world have allowed to develop the theoretical and methodological frameworks that ensure the formation of the concept of ecological certification of products, services, technologies and the facilities of the environment and in the environmental management system, which is a certain aggregation of the various organizational and economic principles, such as: tax and financial instruments, institutional arrangements, scientific and methodological support aimed at the implementation of public administration within the system of environmental management.

The scientific and methodological approach to the formation of the system of environmental certification of natural and economic facilities has been elaborated, which provides for: environmental audits and Cluster modelling according to the proposed indicators, taking into account the levels of environmental risks, decision-making on the bases of the elaborated social, economic and environmental criteria, institutional support and management model of environmental certification in the natural and economic systems. The economic effect as a result of environmental certification consists in the evidence-based economic development, the use of advanced management solutions, conducting further environmental certification of individual territories, administrative areas, natural and economic systems and the system of environmental management.

The methods of introducing environmental certification at various levels have been systematized, and the system of environmental management and environmental safety has been improved, justifying the improvement of the institutional system of environmental management and the greening of the economy that reveal the priorities of ministries and institutions to build information management system of environmental certification in environmental management. For this purpose the logistic model of security in the sphere of environmental management has been elaborated. It has been proved that in this case it is advisable to use the tested models and projects of the public-private partnerships.

Malcolm Ridout Convener of the discussion, DFID, United Kingdom

The discussion has already thrown up some excellent points.

Contributors have that underlined that while building resilience is not easy, there is a lot that we do know and in particular cases can make specific recommendations (Rahi). Other contributors have noted that the need to respond to specific problems - the ‘resilience to what? ’ (Tocco), and that answers need to reflect the multisectoral responses to the complexity of problems (e.g. Pozarny and Tocco). Some areas have already shown success (e.g. Agriculture in Sahel - Tocco) . Others have hinted at the possibility of a more generic quality of resilience, rooted in the capacities of people (Msiska, Messier). Richard Ofwono points out that current programming thinks in ‘straight lines’ and that this does not reflect a messy and unpredictable reality to which we need to respond.

And it is this mismatch between the nature of the problem and the type and scale of responses that I find most difficult. The use of terms when talking about resilience building such as “multisectoral”, “context specific”, “flexible” and “responsive” is common, but less common are specific recommendations as to how government and aid policies need to change to be able to deliver them. This discussion is designed to get ideas to stimulate policy change.

What government and aid policy changes are needed to be able to ensure multisectoral”, “context specific”, “flexible” , “responsive” etc action?

Senait Regass The Swiss Agency for Development and Coopperation, Ethiopia

Here are some key issues we need to take into consideration to enhance resilience building:

Systems thinking: Comprehensive analysis of problems, opportunities, dependencies and interactions among actors and with the livelihood asset base; risks and vulnerabilities and the different levels of the policy environment and institutional frameworks must be the foundation on which resilience programming is done.

Enhancing resilience building should focus on maintaining the basic functions of a system rather than trying to retain relationships and structures within a system.  For instance, ability of households and communities to ensure their food security sustainably even at times of stress and shock is more important than trying to maintain relationships and structures. As it has been argued earlier, households and communities live in an environment that is always undergoing change and these changes require relationships and structures that adapt to the new situation. This may sometimes mean a shift into qualitatively different situations and configurations recognizing that resilience is a dynamic process rather than a static point.

Exogenous support to resilience building The process of resilience building is an endogenous one, fully owned and championed by the communities/national governments. National and global governance need to provide an enhancing environment for local and national societies for their efforts. External capacities such as knowledge, technical expertise, finance, etc should pave the way for and support endogenous resilience building process but not dictate it.

Resilience goes beyond bouncing back: Resilience programming targets vulnerable households, communities or nations. Particularly in the Horn of Africa and in the Sahel Region, these communities live in abject poverty with high prevalence of food insecurity even before the on-set of large scale crises. Therefore, bouncing back to where they were before the crises is not a satisfactory condition from human development point of view. This implies that our aim should be to support building resilience in such a way that long term development can be ensured in a sustainable manner, i.e. maintaining functions but with possible change in relationships and structures. Enhancing resilience building must encompass the whole spectrum of relief and development interventions in a coordinated and flexible manner.

Senait Regass and Manuel Flury

SDC, Addis Ababa


Pamela Pozarny FAO, Italy

There are some common broad principles that when combined seem to function effectively to build and sustain community and household resilience. Through qualitative research in our impact evaluation work of cash transfers within the Protection to Production Project we have found these elements to include for example an adequate household asset base, diversified streams of livelihood strategies and income sources, effective social networks that are able to provide much needed flexible risk-sharing mechanisms and channels of support particularly in time of need, women's economic empowerment and livelihood capacities, responsive, inclusive and well performing local institutions and services able to provide support and information/communication to all categories of households, including most vulnerable. We also have found that complementarity among different types of programmes and services (the multi-faceted effect mentioned by C. Tocco below) can have potentially highly effective results in strengthening the household livelihood base. A more favourable starting point - less vulnerability- will enable households and communities to better respond to crises and climatic shocks and more rapidly restore their asset base. However, shocks, crises, long-term disasters are not all the same and likely require responses more adapted and appropriate tailored to their specific contexts. Degrading environmental conditions, loss of productive land and resources for pastoralists is a different context than conflict for example in the Great Lakes region. It seems to me these shocks require tailored responses, ex ante and as follow up. Further, bio-physical/ecological, socio-culural and economic development contexts are widely diverse. These dimensions are instrumental in determining the resilience potential in a given context. In sum, support to building community resilience requires context-driven well adapted measures. Moreover, these are not simple targeted solutions, but longer-term support measures, as Msiska says, that require a range of elements. Although technical-development solutions may be required, as important is understanding and analysis of the social, cultural (e.g. gender, traditional norms, value and practices), historical dimensions of any given situation.

Christophe Tocco USAID , Senegal

While it is true that there are a few different definitions of resilience it is clear that the ability of individuals, communities, states and systems to adapt to and recover from shocks is common to all.  The bigger issue raised by your first question is "resilience to what?"  And that is a key question before you move forward. Very quickly resilience can come to mean nothing if it means everything. In the Sahel resilience to terrorism is often discussed. While I believe that in the Sahel the type of resilience we are trying to achieve is resilience to climactic shocks which occur repeatedly and lead to large humanitarian responses on a repeated basis. So yes, "resilience to what?" is a key question and we must agree on the answer if we are to move forward together. 

It is clear that there are types of programming that improve food security in protracted crises.  It always comes down to multisectoral programming that looks at the most vulnerable in a multifaced way buidling their knowledge and skills in the area of off farm income, health and nutrition awareness, access to finance, inclusive governance, social protection, etc.  That's what makes resilience hard. It is so very multifaced.  Another key constraint is "food security for whom?" Only the most vulnerable? Or the most vulnerable and rural poor? The key aspect of resilience is that it brings the humanitarian and long term development communities back together with a focus on the most vulnerable. It needs to be the center of our efforts if it is to be meaningful. 

If we do focus on the most vulnerable one of the most meaninful indicators will be to see the humanitarian caseload decrease overtime when the caseload is normalized for the severity of the drought and population growth.

International development work remains largely focused on specific sectors which makes multisector programming focused on the most vulnerable difficult to justify. The resilience agenda is helping to change that. International development is also characterized by a large divide between our humanitarian and longer term development actors. Again the resilience agenda is fostering change.  To do better in the long term we need a way of bridging these constraints institutionally and through resource allocation.

Demographic and ecological changes are certainly big causal factors but they can be addressed. In many parts of the world demographic growth was reduced significantly over just one generation. It is possible in the Sahel. It needs to be part of the discussion tied to safer motherhood and stronger livlihoods for ones family. Through Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) we are seeing whole parts of Niger become green again in spite of the ecological changes. This is clearly happening as seen through satellite imagery looking at the same villages over 30 years. So people can adapt and react to ecoological change. When it comes to causal factors we can address them. Our role is to help scale up the successful adaptations that people in the Sahel are already undertaking.

In sum, resilience aims to reduce exteme vulnability but will never eradicate it. Even in weathly societies there are vulnerable populations. But if resilience can make a signifcant dent in the size of the most vulnerable populations in the Sahel we'll know we have achieved something significant. 

Dagrous Msiska VSO, Malawi

Mine is just a general comment. It is important to acknowledge that coping, resilience and adaptation mechanisms (in that order) to environmental and socio-economic shocks and disasters that increase people's vulnerability to negative impacts of such shocks is not a once off thing - it is not a project. This is even more complicated in protracted crisis situations. As such, the issue is not about scale of programming but rather sustainability of such programming to continuously build people's capacity to adapt to seemingly changing crises.  The starting point is the people themselves. Programming should enable people to holistically explore these traditional coping systems and enabling them to build on these systems to make them more resilient and subsequently adapt to subsequent shocks.

Marie Chantal Messier Switzerland

It is not just about scale. It is about focusing and targeting the limited resources where it will bring the higher return on investments to prevent potential irreversible damage to human capital: that is prioritizing evidence based interventions on individuals in the first 1,000 days of life as well as the most vulnerables: the poorest, the less educated, people in rural areas and the indigenous.

It is also about delivering priority interventions to build resilience to shock and working across sectors to ensure that food and nutrition security policies are mainstreamed into a a variety of sectors such as WASH, emergency response to help countries faced with transitioning from stable times into and out of crisis.  It is also important to have a robust M&E system to be able to continuously improve the efficiency of the response.

In order to reduce inefficiencies and service-delivery gaps, it is important that countries invest in the set up of appropriate programs in stable times, in order to be able to seize the opportunity of existing programs to expand coverage in times of crisis and emergency.

The World Bank has produced a toolkit that aims to improve the resilience of the most vulnerable in times of intensified nutritional needs.  The toolkit comprises three main components: policy guidance  for decision makers; a country benchmarking assessment tool to evaluate countries’ readiness toprotect the nutritional status of the most vulnerable and case studies showcasing how numerous countries in Latin America and in the Carribean have build resilience to food and nutrition insecurity. The interactive Toolkit can be downloaded in English and Spanish on the following link.,,contentMDK:23342299~pagePK:34004173~piPK:34003707~theSitePK:4160378,00.html

Richard Ofwono Concern WorldWide, South Sudan

Food security and livelihood programmes that I have seen build resilience in protracted conflicts are those that focus not only on meeting the immediate food security/livelihood needs, but also look at the medium and long term livelihood needs of those affected by the conflict. The specific types of interventions will be guided by the rules set by the conflicting parties. In Northern Uganda conflict the rebels had rules like no working on Friday, no riding bicycles. Any intervention that violated these attracted their wrath. Agencies involved in the interventions must clearly dissociate themselves from any of the sides.

Programmes that meet immediate need e.g. through cash transfers, coupled with strengthening infrastructure and building human skills that are transferable are most likely to build resilience. These projects within the conflict setting do not only meet immediate needs but also ignite hope in peoples inner being of a future to come.

It has not been feasible to have such programmes because our programming is largely governed by straight line logic. When you invest this you get this output, when you have this outcome and that one and the other you get this result. Real life is not like that. Life many times throws up the unexpected, protracted conflict many times end abruptly. This has been the case in Angola even northern Uganda. Mainstream programming tries to postulate when the conflict will end so as to move away from meeting immediate needs and get to build human capacity and physical infrastructure. Many times it miserably fails to do so.

Ramón Guevara ACF Nicaragua, Nicaragua

Ver archivo adjunto como primer aporte .....

See the attachment: Resiliencia
Abbas Rahi Abbas i Rah Iraqi Organization for Rehabilitating society ...

يعتبر العراق   احد الدول التي تعاني أزمات وانعدام الأمن الغذائي واعتقد إن المشكلة تتعلق بعاملين رئيسين هما عامل داخلي وأخر خارجي

على الرغم من وجود تعريفات عدة لمفهوم المرونة إلا أن الجميع متفقا لمبدأ قدرة المجتمعات على التكيف لتجاوز الأزمات . لكن أرى المرونة أو الثبات تأتي من عاملين أساسين هما : عوامل داخلية  و  عوامل خارجية

هنا مسؤولية المجتمع الدولي كافة لدعم الدول التي تعاني من انعدام الأمن الغذائي واستمرار الأزمات حيث أن غياب الأمن والسلم العالمي يؤثر تأثيرا مباشر على التنمية المحلية للدول واستمرار الأزمات وتأثر دول جديدة بهذه الأزمات

يعتبر العراق   احد الدول التي تعاني أزمات وانعدام الأمن الغذائي واعتقد إن المشكلة تتعلق بعاملين رئيسين هما عامل داخلي وأخر خارجي

على الرغم من وجود تعريفات عدة لمفهوم المرونة إلا أن الجميع متفقا لمبدأ قدرة المجتمعات على التكيف لتجاوز الأزمات . لكن أرى المرونة أو الثبات تأتي من عاملين أساسين هما :

أولا : عوامل داخلية

دراسة جذور المشكلة ويتم ذلك من خلال التعامل مع العوامل الداخلية التي تؤثر على المجتمع المحلي المتضرر  والتي يعاني من أزمات وانعدام في الأمن الغذائي حيث إن سوء التخطيط الحكومي المحلي وغياب الاستراتيجيات طويلة الأمد ووجود بعض ثقافات الخاطئة للمجتمع والحروب ونتائجها التي لازالت الشعوب تعاني منها وعدم استخدام الطرق العلمية الحديثة للسقي والزراعة ودعم الاستثمار الزراعي و الاقتصادي  ساهمت مساهمة مباشرة في  استمرار هذه الأزمات ودعم سياسة الحماية الاجتماعية.

المقترحات والتوصيات

  1. تشجيع الزراعة من خلال أنشاء مصارف زراعية لتقديم المنح المالية بدون فوائد ويكون التسديد على فترات طويلة الأمد لتطوير الزراعة ودعمهم إثناء الأزمات كما هو الحال في العراق حيث قامت الحكومة بإعفاء الفلاحين بسداد ديونهم للمصرف الزراعي العراقي أو تعويض الفلاحين ماديا بسبب الفيضانات التي حصلت هذا العام 2013
  2. وضع إستراتيجية طويلة الأمد من خلال تعاون مشترك بين الجمعيات الفلاحية ( الزراعية ) ووزارة الزراعة والتخطيط والمالية
  3. استخدام الطرق العلمية الحديثة للمكنة الزراعية والسقي وتوفير المبيدات الزراعية والأسمدة بأسعار مدعومة من قبل الحكومة
  4. إنشاء مراكز للبحوث الزراعية ودعمها من قبل الحكومة والتأكيد على حماية والحفاظ على البيئة والعمل على دعم وتفعيل مفهوم البيئة والتنمية المستدامة
  5. تعير بعض القوانين المحلية لدعم القطاع الزراعي وتشجيع الاستثمار الزراعي  .
  6. وضع خطط إستراتيجية مشتركة لدعم القطاع الزراعي والتعليمي والصحي والتركيز على دور المرأة الريفية في التنمية
  7. تغير بعض الثقافات الخاطئة لدى المجتمعات المحلية حول تبذير المياه وجني المحصول الزراعي وبيع الأراضي الزراعية لقيام بدلا منها المساكن أو الأسواق مما أدى إلى تقليل نسب الأراضي الزراعية
  8. فتح أسواق جديدة لتصدير المحاصيل الزراعية لتشجيع صغار المزارعين على الزراعة الحديثة
  9. نشاء جمعيات فلاحيه للدفاع عن حقوق المزارعين وقضاياهم

ثانيا : عوامل خارجية

هنا مسؤولية المجتمع الدولي كافة لدعم الدول التي تعاني من انعدام الأمن الغذائي واستمرار الأزمات حيث أن غياب الأمن والسلم العالمي يؤثر تأثيرا مباشر على التنمية المحلية للدول واستمرار الأزمات وتأثر دول جديدة بهذه الأزمات

المقترحات والتوصيات

  1.  دول الاحتلال لها مسؤولية مباشرة عن حدوث هذه الأزمات لذا يجب عليها القيام بمسؤوليتها القانونية والأخلاقية في المساهمة المباشرة لتخفيف هذه المعاناة والأزمات المسببة لانعدام الأمن الغذائي ..
  2. إنشاء مصرف أممي يسمى " مصرف الأمن الغذائي " مثلا تساهم فيه الدول الغنية ودول الاحتلال لتمويل مشاريع من خلال  :
  • تخفيف معاناة السكان المحليين من خلال تقديم المعونات الإنسانية السريعة والمبرمجة "   ليست ردة فعل لموقف  معين ومن ثم يتوقف  "
  • وضع إستراتيجية طويل الأمد لدعم الحكومات المحلية في تلك الدول لتطوير الزراعة وإنشاء مصارف  زراعية وحث الدول على الاستثمار الزراعي مع التأكيد على حماية البيئة
  • مساعدة المجتمع المحلي بتطوير قابليته من خلال برامج محو الأمية وإنشاء المعاهد الزراعية وإشراكهم في دورات تدريبية والمؤتمرات .
  • دعم التعاون الإقليمي للدول التي لها مصالح مشتركة في  مناطق النزاع . حل مشكلة نزاع المياه  بين العراق – تركيا وسوريا من خلال توقيع اتفاقية تعاون

عباس حسن راهي

مدير المنظمة العراقية لتأهيل المجتمع والبيئة

Abbas Rahi Iraqi Organization for Rehabilitating society and Environment , Iraq

I  trust this e-discussion will make a significant contribution to understanding the problems and conflicts . Iraq consider one of the countries suffer address food insecurity in protracted . My thoughts includes two main factors its Interiors and Exterior ….

Despite the existence of several definitions of the concept of  "Resilience "   but everyone agreed to the principle of the ability of societies to adapt to overcome the crisis , But I see the Resilience  or stability comes from two main factors:

First: Internal factors:

We must Study the roots of the problem and is done through a deal with the internal factors that affect the affected community, which is suffering from crises and  food insecurity in protracted crisis as limited  planning, local government and the absence of strategies, long-term and the presence of some cultures the wrong community, war and its consequences which are still people suffer from non-ways  use modern scientific irrigation, agriculture and boost agricultural investment and economic contributed directly to the continuation of this crisis.
Proposals and Recommendations
1 - promote agriculture through the establishment of banks agricultural to provide financial grants interest-free and have repayment periods long-term development of agriculture and support during crises as is the case in Iraq, where the government has exempted farmers to pay their debts to Bank of Iraq's agricultural or compensate farmers financially because of the floods that occurred this year 2013
2 - Develop a long-term strategy through a joint collaboration between farm associations (agricultural) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Planning and Finance
3 - Use of modern scientific methods of agricultural machine and irrigation and the provision of agricultural pesticides and fertilizers at subsidized prices by the government
4 - Establishment of centers for agricultural research and supported by the government and the emphasis on the protection and preservation of the environment and work to support and activate the concept of environment and sustainable development
5 – Changing  some local laws to support the agricultural sector and to encourage agricultural investment.
6 - develop joint strategic plans to support the agricultural sector and education and health in country sides  and to focus on the role of women in rural development
7 – Must be changing  some  wrong  cultures in local communities  which  uses bad water and agricultural  harvest and sale of agricultural land to do instead of housing or markets, which led to reduced rates of agricultural land as it is now in Iraq
8 - opening new markets for the export of agricultural crops to encourage small farmers to modern agriculture
9 -  Establishment of peasant associations for the defense of the rights of farmers and their causes.

Second: External factors:

Here  , all the responsibility of the international community to support countries that suffer from food insecurity and the continued crisis, where the absence of global peace and security have a direct impact on the local development of the countries and the continuing crises and  then a new countries are affected by this crisis.

Proposals and Recommendations
1 -  The occupying powers have direct responsibility for these crises, so it must do its legal and moral responsibility in the direct contribution to alleviate the suffering and crises that cause food insecurity.
2 - Create internationalist Bank called "Bank food security", for example, contribute to the rich countries and the occupying powers to finance projects through:  
A - to alleviate the suffering of the local population through the rapid delivery of humanitarian aid and programmed "is not a reaction to a certain position and then stops"
B - Develop a long-term strategy to support local governments in those countries for the development of agriculture and the establishment of agricultural banks and urged countries to agricultural investment, with an emphasis on environmental protection
C - To help the local community to develop its ability through literacy programs and the establishment of agricultural institutes and their involvement in training courses and conferences.
D - Support regional cooperation for countries that have common interests in conflict  areas, Such as, solve the water problem between Iraq - Turkey and Syria through the signing of a cooperation agreement.

Abbas Rahi                                                              
Director of : Iraqi Organization for Rehabilitating society and Environment