The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2012

The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2012


Every year, the plight and needs of many of the world’s most vulnerable people are described in the Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP). This year’s CAP spans 18 countries and outlines needs across key sectors (the CAP for Liberia and Sri Lanka will be launched at a later date).

The 2012 CAP clearly highlights that food insecurity continues to be compounded by protracted crisis situations, more frequent natural disasters, conflict, volatile food prices, harsh economic conditions and climate change.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) works with partners to reduce food insecurity through improved preparedness for and effective response to food and agricultural threats and emergencies.

Stepping up to the challenge

To rise to this challenge and improve effectiveness in a climate of reduced funding and increased need, FAO’s emergency response focuses on protecting both lives and livelihoods. Rebuilding livelihoods and decreasing dependency on external aid ensures a quicker return to normalcy for affected people, restoring their self-sufficiency and sense of dignity.

Beyond immediate support to ensure food security in protracted or sudden-onset crisis situations, FAO implements programmes that build the resilience of households in the face of future shocks. Families that have been affected by crises, and often divested of their assets, are even more vulnerable to the potential impacts of future shocks – restoring livelihoods and strengthening resilience can mitigate the effects and reduce risk.

FAO’s components of the CAP fit within broader planning and programming strategies at country and subregional levels, which look into longer-term measures to address the root causes of vulnerability and increase resilience through disaster risk management.

These include FAO Plans of Action, which have been developed together with national counterparts in Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, the Niger, Somalia, South Sudan, the Sudan, the West Bank and Gaza Strip and Zimbabwe, among other countries. Another way that FAO has stepped up to the ever increasing challenges of today’s world is in our closer collaboration with international and local partners and counterparts.

In 2011, the global Food Security Cluster was established to improve the coordination of food security responses in humanitarian crises, under the co-leadership of FAO and the World Food Programme. At country level, Food Security Clusters are increasingly reflected in CAP documents. FAO’s work in development provides an important link with national authorities and community-based organizations that can often be built upon in times of crisis.

The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2012Achieving food security for all is at the heart of FAO’s efforts, and achieving food security in emergencies requires a specific understanding and analysis of livelihoods. FAO programming places people at the centre of its actions, identifying the most effective and efficient ways to assist those most vulnerable. Emergency response programmes are adapted to the needs of women, men and their families, whether they are fishers, pastoralists, farmers or foresters.

Diversifying livelihoods and intensifying agricultural production are some of FAO’s key strategies. To be effective, analysis of household, community and national systems is needed. The individual CAP strategies reflect this livelihood analysis. In many contexts, addressing needs at the household level must be done hand in hand with strengthening community and social support systems.

In Somalia, in addition to providing immediate life-saving assistance, the strategic priorities for humanitarian assistance include stabilizing and preventing the deterioration of people’s way of life through the protection and restoration of livelihood assets and through early recovery, resilience building, emergency preparedness, disaster risk reduction and social/productive networks.

This is a twin-track approach that combines immediate assistance to improve access to food with addressing the root causes of the problems and building longer-term coping capacity in the face of protracted crises and new shocks. FAO is supplying inputs like drought-tolerant seeds while improving pastoral techniques, water harvesting, irrigation and soil conservation.

In situations of high unemployment or where access to food is constrained, cash and seed voucher schemes in exchange for labour are being established. In the Horn of Africa, FAO has set up irrigation schemes so that some communities have been able to keep producing food despite the drought. FAO is also distributing seeds that can tolerate drought, and assisting farmers to produce more quality seeds and sell them to other farmers. These efforts are ensuring that more and more people can cope with drought in the future.

Building on local institutions

We have much to learn from our partners. In the past, the international community spoke of “capacity building”, often as a “top-down” system of knowledge transfer, but experience has shown that most of the learning and best approaches to strengthen resilience are found at the local and national levels, within communities and institutions.

Building on and supporting local institutions can provide a sustainable basis for addressing the drivers of a crisis, for rebuilding livelihoods after a crisis and for strengthening resilience and coping mechanisms. In South Sudan, FAO has and will continue in 2012 to work with the nascent government to establish a sound institutional framework for food security, which is resulting in increased levels of public investment in agriculture and food security.

Thinking about outcomes

Humanitarian response is life-saving, but it also aims to protect and restore the lives and livelihoods of people that have been hit by crisis. Dignity, food and nutrition security, self-sufficiency and resilience are cornerstones of what FAO aims to achieve in emergency response; there are also further positive outcomes across a variety of sectors that can be achieved through food- and agriculture-based approaches. For example, collaboration with the Department of Education in school gardening projects in the Philippines will enhance the nutritional value and variety of meals prepared in schools, and ensure that children attend school.

In Afghanistan, steps have already been taken to link food assistance, cash-based and agriculture support activities with a nutrition response to ensure that adequate household dietary intake and food consumption levels are met. Food security and agricultural interventions are closely aligned with programmes to increase water access for herders, whose livelihoods are impacted by natural disasters and conflict.

Short-term funding leads to short-term results

Humanitarian donors are at work to support the needs of the most vulnerable; however, despite generous short-term aid, which has been successful in addressing immediate needs, vulnerability persists in many countries facing humanitarian crises. If lasting solutions are not found, after each shock families are less able to cope, take longer to rebuild their lives and livelihoods, and remain dependent on external aid for longer periods of time. In some parts of the Sudan, for example, vulnerability remains acute as underlying conditions are left unaddressed.

As a result, large segments of internally displaced persons residing in camps have to various degrees become dependent on external aid. The comparative lack of parallel support for durable solutions within a humanitarian framework in the Sudan is one of the key contributors to persistent vulnerability in the country. FAO’s component of the 2012 CAP reflects how we in FAO are taking on new challenges. We appeal to our donors and partners to help us take on the challenge and work together to address not only the life-saving needs of vulnerable communities today, but to restore lives and livelihoods for tomorrow.

Laurent Thomas

FAO Emergency Operations and Rehabilitation Division