Global accord demands new approach to hunger and nutrition in protracted crises

Framework for Action seeks coherent humanitarian and development efforts

15 October 2015, Rome - The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) has approved the world's first global agreement involving all stakeholder groups on coordinated action to combat hunger and undernutrition among people living in protracted crises.

The Framework for Action for Food Security and Nutrition in Protracted Crises is a voluntary agreement offering guidance to address food security and nutrition needs in these challenging contexts. It also outlines how to adapt to specific challenges in areas persistently wracked by natural calamity and civil conflict.

The Framework comprises 11 principles that recognize the need for coherent and integrated humanitarian and development efforts to address both the immediate and the longer-term food security and nutrition needs of people in protracted crises.

Protracted crises result in disrupted livelihoods and food systems, higher illness and mortality rates, increased displacements, hunger and severe undernutrition.

The prevalence of undernutrition is typically three times higher in protracted crisis situations than in the rest of the developing world.

Resilience is the key

"More comprehensive and effective policies and action will emerge as the result of the high-level political commitment the Framework mobilizes", said Dominique Burgeon, FAO's Strategic Programme Leader on Resilience.

"Building resilience is a critical element of the Framework for Action. Resilient communities have a greater capacity to absorb, prepare for and prevent crises and long-term stresses," he said.

That's a marked shift from focus on short-term solutions, often humanitarian funded, to address long-term problems.

"We need to ‘do business differently' in order to help the most vulnerable and at-risk communities to improve their food security and nutrition," Burgeon said.

Meeting immediate food and other basic needs must be accompanied by longer-term policies, action and investments to address the underlying causes of food insecurity and undernutrition, support local capacities and priorities, and build resilient livelihoods and food systems.

The Framework emphasizes women's empowerment and the agricultural productivity of smallholders, noting that both are often neglected in responses to crisis situations. Over time, protracted crises reverse years of previously accumulated development gains, and undermine livelihoods, making the Sustainable Development Goal of eradicating hunger and poverty by 2030 harder to achieve.

The political consensus reached on the Framework for Action can be leveraged by FAO, the World Food Programme and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, key CFS stakeholders already working together to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable and at risk people. Working closely with the Rome-based Agencies, implementing the Framework for Action is a priority for FAO.

Strengthening resilience, in all contexts, is vital to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. And a key focus of the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit is the need for collective action by humanitarian, development and other partners to strengthen people's resilience to crises.

The Framework for Action recognizes that all stakeholders need to work differently in protracted crises to improve food security and nutrition.

Photo: ©FAO/Sia Kambou
Women in rural Chad make a wind-breaking fence to protect a nearby river.