Re: Addressing food insecurity in protracted crises: Resilience-building programming

Georgina Jordan World Vision , Middle East and Eastern Europe, Cyprus
04.07.2013

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.