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Emergencies and Rural Livelihoods

Every year about 30 countries are in crisis as a result of civil conflict, natural disasters, epidemics, other shocks or a combination of factors. These emergencies have devastating effects, particularly in the agriculture and rural sectors, with over 70 million people in need of assistance. Humanitarian appeals for aid have risen by 550 percent in ten years, reaching USD 18.7 billion in 2015.

Investing in protecting agricultural livelihoods.

FAO helps vulnerable families and communities to strengthen their food security and build their resilience. Supporting agricultural activities is crucial to allow families to produce their own nutritious food and generate income. This provides long-term livelihoods for disaster-affected populations.

FAO plays an important coordination role in humanitarian emergencies (i.e. Global Food Security Cluster). The Organization also engages in strategic partnerships with other UN agencies and regional partners, provides early warning information, and undertakes food security and resilience analysis to strengthen rural livelihoods.

Key policy messages

  • Responses to emergency situations must tackle the underlying causes that lead to a crisis as well as address   immediate needs for food and nutrition. Agriculture has a critical role to play in building family and community resilience.
  • Policies that facilitate and increase immediate and long-term investment in agriculture are urgently needed in countries exposed to recurrent shocks. They must increase and diversify available food and help families become self-sufficient.
  • Policies aiming to support agricultural livelihoods in emergency situations (e.g. through cash transfers, local and regional procurement of inputs, and public purchases) are key to reduce suffering and forced migration.
  • Robust assessments are critical to determine when and where crises may occur, and to anticipate and respond with appropriate programmes and policies. The FAO RIMA, GIEWS and IPC partnerships are valuable tools and models. Investment in better information, data and statistics is critical to save lives, and improve analysis, recommendations and action.
  • Partnerships and collaboration among agencies, governments and NGOs is essential in emergencies. Humanitarian assistance and long-term development policies need to be better coordinated. FAO plays an important role as a reliable partner and co-lead of the Food Security Cluster, coordinating food security responses in humanitarian crises.

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