FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa
©FAO/Ami Vitale

Climate threats, degradation of natural resources, water scarcity and conflicts are among the key drivers of food and nutrition insecurity in the Near East and North Africa region. The high rates of population growth and increasing urbanization further aggravate pressure on water and food production and utilization.

Mainly due to conflicts and protracted crisis, NENA contributes 60% of the global humanitarian caseload. The impact of conflicts and crises is long lasting affecting not only the production capacity and economic growth but also the resilience capacity of individuals, households and communities.

Investing in resilience and food security in the NENA region is therefore vital to fight hunger and sustain peace whilst it is a powerful lever to reach the Sustainable Development Goal pledge “to leave no one behind”. 

Building Resilience for Food Security and Nutrition

FAO defines resilience as: "The ability to prevent disasters and crises as well as to anticipate, absorb, accommodate or recover from them in a timely, efficient and sustainable manner. This includes protecting, restoring and improving livelihoods systems in the face of threats that impact agriculture, nutrition, food security and food safety."

The Regional Initiative on Building Resilience for Food Security and Nutrition (RI-FSN) supports countries in addressing the multiple threats and risks to food insecurity and malnutrition in the region by focusing on four interrelated pillars:

  • Governance: We support decision-makers in governments to develop resilience-based policies, legal frameworks and investment programmes with focus on food security and nutrition by: i) providing policy advice; ii) building local capacity and strengthening national coordination; and iii) involving strategic actors from the private sector and civil society organizations.
  • Food Security Information System: We analyze, monitor and improve access to food security related data to facilitate early action and informed decision-making and resilience programming.
  • Prevention and Risk Reduction: We assist countries to identify, design and implement prevention and mitigation measures. By doing so, countries improve their capacities to anticipate, absorb and recover from the negative impacts of shocks.
  • Preparedness and Response: We contribute to strengthen the capacity of governments and communities by providing rapid and efficient response to agricultural threats and emergencies to save lives, promoting recovery and reducing the gap between food assistance dependency and self-reliance.

Therefore, by addressing the immediate causes of vulnerability, food insecurity and malnutrition, we pave the way for economic, environmental and social recovery.

The major work of the initiative is implemented in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, West Bank and Gaza, and Yemen.

Did you know?

People with resilient livelihoods are better prepared for and can better cope with shocks whether recurrent, protracted or unexpected.

In the NENA countries in conflict, the level of undernourishment is now six times larger and food insecurity is double than in non-conflict settings.

Cost of the war to the agriculture sector in Syria has been estimated at USD16 billion.

Under the Iraq Recovery and Resilience Programme 2018–2019, FAO is seeking to improve the lives of 1.6 million people by revitalizing communities and restoring agriculture and water systems.

17.8 million of Yemenis (61% of the population) do not have a reliable source of food and struggle to feed themselves.

46% of women-headed households in the Gaza Strip are now moderately-to-severely food insecure, resulting in low resilience and high vulnerability to shocks.
In Sudan, 573 000 children under five suffer from severe acute malnutrition.

1.1 million people across Libya is in need of life-saving humanitarian assistance and protection.