On the ground before, during and after crises

Saving lives through stronger, more resilient livelihoods

In Mali, Maman Sow received a FAO cash transfer helping her to provide for her family. ©FAO/Sonia Nguyen


Hassan Al-Hassan, a Syrian farmer known to locals as Abu Hasan, remembers how difficult it had been in the past few years in the village of al-Rabeha in the southern governorate of Homs. “Due to lack of water, we could hardly produce anything,” said Abu Hasan.

FAO is helping to restore access to water for over 40 000 families – about 240 000 people – including 4 000 families in Abu Hasan’s community. “It is the best thing we could have dreamed of. This year’s production is four-times higher than the last three years,” Abu Hasan said joyfully.

Such projects have helped farmers remain on their land, feed their families and even produce vegetables and fruits to meet the needs of residents in surrounding villages. 

Left: FAO has set up mobile veterinary clinics in Haiti to help treat the livestock of families affected by Hurricane Matthew. Here are farmers with a few of their cows who have just been treated. ©FAO/Justine Texier
Right: Farmers in the Syrian village of al-Rabeha harvesting their crops after water was restored to over 40,000 families in their community as part of an FAO project. ©FAO

Torbeck, a commune in southern Haiti, was severely hit by Hurricane Matthew. People lost their lives, thousands of houses were destroyed, thousands of hectares of crops and trees were lost, and thousands of animals perished, and those that survived are often sick.

FAO set up mobile veterinary clinics to help treat the livestock of affected families. Each mobile veterinary clinic consists of a veterinarian and two veterinary officers who travel to the affected areas to conduct animal health and nutrition assessments and provide preventive care and treatment.

“FAO is the only organization to provide veterinary treatments for our animals. We could not afford to pay for a private veterinarian for these types of services,” says Juceline Philippe Beauvoir, a Torbeck resident.

When livelihoods are diminished or have to be abandoned, people may have no alternative but to move in search of safety or of other opportunities to feed themselves and their families. Instead, people with resilient livelihoods are better prepared and can better cope with shocks.

Sanihan lives in northern Mali with 13 members of her family. Each year, the lean season is a major challenge for Sanihan. However, this year, she enrolled in FAO’s 'caisses de résilience' programme, which aims to improve the food security and nutrition of vulnerable populations by strengthening the resilience of their livelihoods.

During the lean season, FAO provided seeds along with cash transfers. For the first time in five years, families could plant their whole plot. “Today I no longer worry about the end of the lean season or about what will happen next year, as we are engaging in new activities, which will make us stronger in trying times” says Sanihan.

Women receiving cash transfers in Mali as part of the 'caisses de résilience' programme. Along with the cash transfers, FAO also provided seeds so families could plant their crops. ©FAO/Sonia Nguyen

Abu Hasan, Juceline and Sanihan are just three of the millions who have benefited from FAO’s emergency assistance.  Livelihoods are rural people’s greatest defence against hunger and malnutrition. It is where Zero Hunger begins. When addressing the immediate and longer-term needs of those affected by crisis, agriculture cannot be an afterthought. In the face of enormous challenges, it remains the backbone of rural livelihoods. 

FAO is the only organization to provide veterinary treatments for our animals. -  Juceline Philippe Beauvoir

FAO is working in over 50 countries, before, during and after crises to provide emergency assistance to those that depend on agriculture to survive. Ensuring people can continue to produce their food and earn an income means that they can be better prepared for and cope with shocks. They have greater and more diverse sources of income, and their families are better fed and nourished. Most importantly, they have the choice to stay at home if it is safe to do so. 

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