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Disaster Risk Reduction in Agriculture

Disaster impacts on agriculture and development

Between 1998 and 2017, climate-related and geophysical disasters killed 1.3 million people and left another 4.4 billion injured, homeless, displaced, or in need of emergency assistance. Direct economic losses were nearly USD 3 trillion, of which 77% were caused by climate-related disasters.

Agriculture - the source of livelihoods for over 2.5 billion people - is particularly vulnerable. Between 2006 and 2016, 23% of the total damage and loss caused by natural hazard-induced disasters in developing countries, occurred in the agricultural sector.

Reducing risks, strengthening resilience

FAO supports the coherent implementation of the 2015 Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR), the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.  Our efforts related to DRR policies and governance include: (i) mainstreaming DRR within agricultural development planning, (ii) strengthening capacities for disaster impact monitoring in agriculture, (iii) promoting coherence between DRR and climate change adaptation processes.

Key policy messages

  • The number and impact of disasters, particularly climate-induced disasters, is increasing significantly. It is crucial that all countries succeed in shifting from reactive disaster response approaches used in the past to more proactive preventative action and investment, as agreed under the SFDRR. Many small- and medium-scale disasters can be avoided -- or their impact limited -- if effective risk reduction measures are put in place. 
  • It is critically important to integrate disaster risk reduction into sectoral agricultural development plans and socio-economic development strategies. This requires action at the local, regional, and national levels as well as cross-sectoral cooperation. 
  • Agriculture is not only a victim of disasters; indeed, risk-sensitive agriculture is part of the solution to improving disaster resilience. Farmers, herders, fishers and forest-dependent communities are direct custodians of the environment; the way they manage natural resources can prevent natural hazards from becoming crises. Ecosystem services provided by farmers should be acknowledged, costed and translated into tangible returns for them
  • 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 should be reflected in sectoral responsibilities and in budget allocation.
  • Investments in DRR for agriculture pay off. Farm level DRR good practices provide farmers with benefits (in terms of avoided damages and losses during hazard stress) that are on average 2.2 times higher than previously used farming practices. Proactive policies and services are needed that create incentives for strategic upscaling of evidence-based DRR good practices.

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