Working together for a more resilient world

On World Humanitarian Day 2014, a look at a few of the people at FAO who are helping us make a difference

19 August marks the anniversary of the bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, in which 22 people lost their lives. In 2008, the UN General Assembly designated this day as World Humanitarian Day in an effort to raise public awareness of the crucial role that humanitarian assistance plays in improving people's lives worldwide, and to recognize the contributions of those who risk their lives delivering it.

Today, on World Humanitarian Day, FAO celebrates the spirit of our staff: their humanitarian work in the field and their ongoing efforts to build resilience in communities around the globe.

The challenges involved in that work are great.

Around 2.5 billion people whose livelihoods depend on crops, fish, forests and livestock are continually threatened by hazards and crises.

When disasters strike, FAO immediately helps families regain the means to provide for themselves, ensuring a harvest does not pass by when families critically need that food and income.

But the same time, we work to address the root causes that put communities at risk, and try to reduce their vulnerability and increase their resilience. In many contexts, saving livelihoods saves lives.

Our staff's commitment to communities is proactive and long-term. They work with communities - and the institutions which support them - to prevent disasters and mitigate their impact while ensuring development gains are sustainable.

They also work tirelessly and in increasingly difficult conditions to assist those most in need.

Their humanitarian efforts are a critical part of FAO's wider efforts to build the resilience of farming, fishing, herding communities.

Today FAO also pays tribute to the strength and perseverance of the world's farmers, fishers and herders, who continue to sow their fields, tend their animals and bring food to markets and homes, oftentimes while coping with difficult circumstances or struggling to adapt to changing conditions.

FAO humanitarian heroes

We asked a few of our colleagues: "Why do you do what you do?"

This is what they told us.

"A brighter future for me and for my society." – Maram Abdo, Finance Assistant, FAO West Bank and Gaza Strip
"It's an opportunity to make a difference where it is needed most, and a meaningful challenge." – Azzam Saleh Ayasa, Head of Programme, FAO West Bank and Gaza Strip
"I'm here to help people in need. This is what it's all about." – Honorine Brahim, FAO Program Assistant, Democratic Republic of the Congo
"To restore hope to desperate people who end up in situations they're often not responsible for." - Guillaume Kahomboshi, Food Security Expert, Democratic Republic of the Congo
"It's always a joy for me to see crisis-hit families return to work in their fields." - Tiphaine Bueke, FAO HIV/AIDS Focual Point, Democratic Republic of the Congo
"The work is so gratifying that it is easy to forget all the difficulties, the dark moments, the problems." – Jacopo Damelio, Operations Officer, FAO Afghanistan
"No two days are ever the same; there are always new activities and challenges. I love the dynamic environment that I work in and the fantastic people who I work with." – Tahseen Ayyash, Field Monitor, FAO Syria

"I was born in a war torn country, I owe so much to the humanitarians for their help to the Sudanese people during the war, and it is gratifying to extend the same service to other generations who are unfortunately born into a world of conflicts and natural disasters in South Sudan." – Nyabenyi Tipo, Emergency Livestock Officer, FAO South Sudan
"Coming from South Sudan where we have experienced so many challenges, ranging from wars, floods, diseases and droughts, it has been my desire and ambition that one day all this will come to an end through our efforts as humanitarian actors.” – YolYoal, Farmer Field School and Pastoral Field School Advisor, FAO South Sudan

To see additional profiles of humanitarian workers at FAO and elsewhere in the UN system, visit the World Humanitarian Day 2014 website.

Photo: ©FAO/Issouf Sanogo / FAO
Supplying herders affected by drought with fodder for their animals.