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Disaster Risk Reduction in Agriculture

Between 2005 and 2015, over 700,000 people lost their lives, and approximately 23 million were made homeless, as a result of disasters. The total economic loss was more than US$1.3 trillion.

Reducing risks and strengthening resilience.

Poor rural communities are particularly vulnerable to natural hazards and disasters (e.g. hurricanes, tsunami, drought, floods, earthquakes), man-made disasters (e.g. civil unrest) and food chain crises.

FAO work on disaster risk reduction (DRR) at global, regional, national and local levels is guided by the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) 2015-2030, which promotes a comprehensive, people-centered approach to DRR.

FAO policy work focuses on: improving risk governance across sectors (specifically agriculture); improving information and early warning systems; strengthening agricultural institutions and investment; building household and community resilience; promoting capacity development to identify, disseminate and upscale context specific technologies and good practices; enhancing  preparedness capacities for response and recovery; and applying the principle of building back better.

Key policy messages

  • The number and impact of disasters, particularly climate induced disasters, is increasing significantly. Many small and medium scale disasters could be avoided and their impact limited by systematically applying disaster risk reduction policies and practices, particularly if promoted at local levels.
  • Studies have shown that for every dollar spent on disaster risk reduction, as much as four dollars are returned in terms of avoided damage or losses and costs. It is crucial that all countries succeed with the shift from reactive disaster response approaches applied in the past to more proactive preventative action and investment as agreed upon in SFDRR.
  • Between 2003 and 2013, 22% of the total damage and loss caused by natural hazards in developing countries, occurred in the agricultural sector. It is critically important to integrate disaster risk reduction into sectoral agricultural development plans (and vice versa agriculture into DRR plans) and socio-economic development strategies. This is the basis for reducing vulnerability and to foster more resilient livelihoods, farming systems, ecosystems and infrastructure to reduce risk and minimize the damage and costs from future disasters.
  • Policies must take into consideration the “buffer” role of agriculture in times of crisis. It absorbs environmental and economic shocks, be they at the macro or micro economic and environmental levels. Agriculture plays a critical role in ensuring that affected people maintain access to food and livelihoods during and after disasters, and in building resilience over time.  These functions must also be reflected in sectoral responsibilities and in budget allocation.
  • Disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation are closely intertwined, and in agriculture they should be addressed in an integrated way. Disasters significantly impede progress towards sustainable development and must be prevented or mitigated in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

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