FAO Liaison Office in New York
reviewed & published
Need for an integrated approach to nutrition and resilience

Resilience is critical in ensuring food security and meeting nutrition needs of vulnerable populations both in humanitarian emergencies, recovery and development contexts.

The practical application of resilience to food and nutrition security have been translated both into policy formulation and implementation as a large number of developing countries are participating and joining the UN secretary General’s Zero Hunger Challenge as well as the Scaling UP Nutrition (SUN) movement.

At a UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Humanitarian Affairs Segment (HAS) side event co-organized by FAO, UNICEF, ACF and ECHO, panellists gathered to further shed light on the issue of nutrition and resilience, benefiting from complementary perspectives from UN agencies, civil society and donors with the conceptual framework and best case stories from the field.

Sharon Brennen-Haylock, Director of FAO Liaison Office in New York said, “Resilience should not be another word that becomes jargon; we should see it as something that is practical, relevant and necessary. It is about empowerment and capability at the global level, national level, community level, and most importantly—the individual level—to predict, prevent, cope with, recover, and find sustainable situations after times of crises.”

Florika Fink-Hooijer, Director for Strategy, Policy and International Cooperation, ECHO stressed that nutrition is no more an isolated issue because it has far reaching impact on economic growth and performance of a country. Fink-Hooijer also emphasized the need for key indicators and resilience markers to identify best practices.

Dolores Rio, Nutrition Specialist at UNICEF said “there is a vicious cycle between undernutrition and vulnerabilities which limit the resilience of communities to shocks and crises.” She emphasised the importance for a holistic and multi-sectoral approach to address under-nutrition in crises prone areas to break this vicious cycle. She also highlighted the need for a continuum of care between prevention and treatment of under nutrition at all times (before, during, after a crisis) which requires both humanitarian and development actors to better work together. She further indicated the need for risk analysis and early-warming to ensure that programs are risk-informed, flexible and contribute to building communities capacities to be more resilient to shocks without compromising their nutrition status.

An effective way to go about this is to strengthen “delivery platform that can deliver multiple interventions and achieve multiple outcomes,” Charlotte Dufour, Nutrition Officer at FAO said. This could be done through “school nutrition programmes, farmer field schools or by leveraging private sector interests,” Dufour added.

ACF experience of integrated delivery platforms including Mother to Mother Support Groups (MTMSG) in Kenya and Community Nutrition Forums (CCBN) in DRC has demonstrated that nutrition education can serve as an entry point to longer term community development and resilience-building activities that tackle basic causes of undernutrition. Pairing these local level actions with government advocacy and a health systems strengthening approach can achieve lasting impact for nutrition security. One of our challenges now is finding ways to effectively measure this impact, said Muriel Calo, Senior Food Security and Livelihood Advisor, Action Against Hunger.


“Between 29 July - 1 August, member states and participants in the UN Committee on World Food Security will be negotiating an Agenda for Action for addressing food insecurity and malnutrition in protracted crisis situations”, Chris Leather, Senior Specialist, UN World Committee on Food Security (CFS), reminded participants during the interactive debate. This multistakeholder effort “is an excellent opportunity for governments and other stakeholders to commit to strengthen and implement policies and actions which not only treat malnutrition but also address the underlying causes and enable vulnerable people to build their resilience,” Leather concluded.


It is important that resilience should become “a way of thinking, living and breathing to ensure a healthy, sustainable global food system that can provide nutritious food for all and at all times, with a view to preserving the planet,” Brennen-Haylock said.

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