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KORE - Knowledge Sharing Platform on Resilience

Protracted crises and conflicts

In recent decades, increasing numbers of crises have evolved from catastrophic, short-term, highly visible events to more structural, longer-term situations resulting from a combination of multiple factors.

 Protracted crises and conflicts are challenging contexts in which to fight hunger and malnutrition – the most serious and common consequences – and poverty. Protracted crises are where a significant proportion of the population is acutely vulnerable to death, disease, and disruptions in livelihoods over a prolonged period of time. 

Although each situation is different, the recurrent causes include both human-induced factors and natural hazards – often occurring simultaneously and reinforcing each other. Conflict is frequently present, alongside lengthy food crises, the breakdown of livelihoods and food systems and insufficient governance and institutional capacity.

The impacts of disasters and crises are not merely short-term – they undermine livelihoods and national development gains that have taken years to build.

In numbers

Protracted crises have become the new norm, and new challenges are emerging. Almost a quarter of the world’s population lives in countries and territories affected by protracted crises and conflicts. By 2030, well over 60 percent of the global poor will be in fragile contexts. Ninety-three percent of people living in extreme poverty are in countries deemed fragile or environmentally vulnerable, or both.

Food insecurity and malnutrition are significantly higher in protracted crisis contexts, with a prevalence of undernourishment three times higher than elsewhere.

Conflicts are becoming more complex and intractable, and increasingly regionalised. In 2015, over 65 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced – the highest number since the end of World War II – with the average length of displacement in major refugee situations now 20 years.

The global economic impact of violence is a staggering USD 13.6 trillion, equivalent to 13.6 percent of global gross domestic product.  Competition over already scarce resources is intensifying, compounded by climate change. Countries and communities need more effective and sustainable strategies to build their capacity against shocks and stressors. Building resilience in protracted crises and conflicts require a high degree of political commitment. The Framework for Action for Food Security and Nutrition in Protracted Crises (CFS-FFA) is an important and necessary step to mobilize political commitment, guide action and scale up successful experiences.

The livelihoods of 2.5 billion people worldwide depend on agriculture. Three-quarters of the poor are farmers. These small-scale farmers, herders, fishers and forest-dependent communities generate more than half of global agricultural production and are particularly at risk from disasters that destroy or damage harvests, equipment, supplies, livestock, seeds, crops and stored food.

If the challenges faced in protracted crisis and conflict-affected situations are not addressed, progress on combating climate change and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals will be stalled. Millions will remain in poverty and hunger, the migration crisis will continue and instability will continue to increase.

Building resilient agricultural-based livelihoods can help address these concerns, through flexible approaches that focus on root causes, link humanitarian, development and peacebuilding interventions and build on people’s capacities.