Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

Marco d'Errico


Dear all,

The question on whether or not a minimum time frame exists in which an individual, community or system should remain resilient to actually qualify as "resilient" is well posed and dramatically relevant for policy purposes. My initial reaction is both yes and no. YES, if a household manages to survive a shock it can be considered as “resilient”. NO, if it survives the first shock and does not survive the second it is not resilient. Therefore there is not a time frame in which one unit of analysis can be considered as resilient; there is only an outcome, surviving or not surviving; or, under a more nuanced perspective, if the shock permanently damages its capacity or not.

Time matters in resilience analysis and programming, because of many reasons:

Some intervention may be more effective on the long- rather than on the short-period (think about education).

Some shocks may have a more devastating effect if repeated (say a household can resist to one drought but not to three consecutive droughts).

Some internal capacities (say “internal-psychological” resilience) may be deteriorated after an iterated experienced unsecure situation.

Some coping strategies may translate into fatal asset or consumption disruption.

How can we factor this aspects into a consistent measurement framework?

We in FAO are trying to remove the linearity assumption of our RIMA in order to detect long- and short-term effects on resilience.

We are focusing especially on adaptive capacity, as it is the only aspect of resilience that directly deal with time. In fact adaptation looks at inner capacity of adapting to a new situation which can happen after every single shock.

Time is important to resilience analysis and measurement in two more aspects. First it bridges humanitarian and development interventions, by pushing the perspective from short term recovery to long term development.

Second, as someone correctly pointed out in this online discussion, women and men might be exposed to different kinds of shocks and stressors and their coping strategies might differ as well. If one consider, on top of this, that female headed households may have different endowment in term of long-term adaptive capacity, it is clear that specific interventions and analysis must be considered.