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,
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.
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.
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These discussions are led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP)
and facilitated by the Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)