FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa
©FAO

Multiple shocks and stresses have significant impact on agri-food systems and related livelihoods. This impact is evident in the Near East and North Africa region where long-term stresses – such as scarcity of water and arable land, climate change, land degradation and increasing population growth – fuel and aggravate multiple and overlapping shocks. Conflicts, climate related disasters, biological disasters (e.g. transboundary animal and plant pests and diseases and COVID-19 pandemic) and economic shocks have exacerbated high levels of acute food insecurity and malnutrition, including, and up to, famine levels, in the region. 

Enhancing the resilience of the region’s agri-food systems would not only contribute to addressing the persistence of chronic and acute food insecurity and recovering from COVID-19 impacts, but will also accelerate progress towards achieving the SDGs (particularly 1, 2, 13 and 16) and foster sustainability. 

Building resilience to protracted crises and emergency situations

FAO’s Resilience Programme in the NENA region seeks to strengthen the five interrelated resilience capacities; anticipative, preventive, absorptive, adaptive, and transformative capacity through five strategic action areas.

Strategic actions area 1: Understanding multiple risks

Reliable information and comprehensive multi-risk assessments are essential prerequisites for holistic management of multiple risks within and across the agri-food systems, by providing risk monitoring together with early warning linked to anticipatory or early actions as well as informing risk driven policies, advocacy and programming actions. 

Main actions under this strategic action area include:  

  • Support countries to establish, implement, and institutionalize functional agro-climatic, disaster and crisis risk information systems and for risk-informed decisions and actions;
  • Support countries and relevant regional stakeholders through capacity building and knowledge sharing, in establishing/ strengthening multi-hazard early warning systems linked to anticipatory actions;
  • Strengthen and support country level capacity for immediate damage and loss vulnerability assessments, resilience measurements and social, economic and environmental risk and conflict analyses.

Strategic action area 2: Strengthening disaster risk and crisis governance

Robust disaster risk reduction and management policies, institutions and coordination mechanisms are key for effective governance to address multiple and often colliding risks and cascading crisis, within and across sectors and systems. 

Main actions under this strategic action area include:  

  • Support countries through capacity building, technical support and knowledge sharing in developing/updating national/sectoral disaster risk reduction and management (DRR/M) policies, plans, regulations with specific focus on building resilient agriculture and food systems;
  • Develop national and regional institutional capacities to mainstream gender and age considerations in disaster risk reduction/management;
  • Contribute to the regional resilience agenda through collaboration with regional organizations and issue based coalitions.

Strategic option 3: Reducing risks and vulnerabilities

Investing in reducing risks and vulnerabilities is key for building resilient agri-food systems. Measures such as DRR and climate-smart agriculture practices and technologies and risk informed and shock responsive social protection and insurance mechanisms reduce the economic impact of disasters. 

Main actions under this strategic action area include:  

  • Support countries to adopt/expand various risk and vulnerability reduction interventions across farm, landscape and food value chain levels;
  • Support countries in developing and strengthening risk and vulnerability reduction measures at the institutional level including shock-responsive, and risk, gender and nutrition-sensitive social protection systems; and risk transfer systems such as crop and livestock insurance;
  • Support the integration of multiple risk vulnerability reduction measures within FAO programmes, with emphasis on resilience programming in conflict-affected areas.

Strategic action area 4:Strengthening One-Health approach against biological threats

The One Health approach is a coordinated, collaborative, multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral approach to address risks that originate at the animal-human- ecosystem interface. This approach requires strong regional and multi-stakeholder collaboration given the transboundary nature of animal and zoonotic diseases and plant pests and diseases. Science, technology and innovation play important roles in this approach.   

Main actions under this strategic action areas include:  

  • Support regional collaboration on transboundary pests and diseases.
  • Support countries in developing/updating One Health strategies, plans and platforms; and in developing regional strategies;
  • Support countries in strengthening research on emerging zoonotic diseases especially on COVID-19 and the role of animals;
  • Support the implementation of quarantine standards to control transboundary animal diseases and plant pests and diseases;
  • Support countries in establishing/ strengthening food safety measures and protocols.

Strategic action areas 5: Enhancing anticipatory actions, emergency preparedness and response

Deterring avoidable food crises is a priority, but at the same time, it should not undermine the importance of medium to longer-term resilient and sustainable objectives. Humanitarian relief, development programmes and peacebuilding must be implemented simultaneously and must be complementary. 

Main actions under this strategic action area include:  

  • Support countries in strengthening emergency preparedness for effective response and response capacities through effective contingency planning and mechanisms to provide anticipatory actions;
  • Strengthen the quality of emergency response programmes through supporting and building capacities for applying the principles of humanitarian-development-peace and accountability to affected populations,  evidence-based programming, and  mainstreaming nutrition, gender and inclusion;
  • Embed longer-term resilience building within humanitarian activities.

Facts and Figures

  • The region is not on track to reach the SDG target of Zero Hunger as the number of people suffering from hunger will surpass 75 million by 2030 if recent trends continue.
  • In 2022, 3 conflict-affected countries in NENA are among the top 10 countries facing the worst food crises.
  • The NENA region also accounts for more than a quarter of people internally displaced by conflict and violence globally.
  • NENA is characterized by scarcity in water and productive land: 
    • Only 17% highly productive land
    • 0.3 hectares of agricultural land per capita
    • 10% of global average water availability
  • 43% of the region’s population live in rural areas, which host 70% of the region’s poor who largely depend on agriculture
  • Rainfed agriculture accounts for 70% of the region’s food production