Policy Support and Governance Gateway

Disaster Risk Reduction in Agriculture

Disaster events with their escalating severity and frequency have quadrupled since the 1970s, in particular climate-related disasters. The growing frequency and intensity of disasters, and increasing systemic risk, are upending people’s lives, devastating livelihoods, and jeopardizing our entire food system and agriculture's sustainability.

Agriculture continues to absorb a disproportionate share of the damage and losses by disasters. The sector absorbed 23 percent of the overall impact caused by medium- to large-scale disasters in least developed countries and low- and middle-income countries between 2007 and 2022. The livelihoods of 2.5 billion people depend on agriculture, which provides resilience solutions to disasters and climate change.

Reducing risks, strengthening resilience

FAO supports the coherent implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. It’s efforts related to disaster risk reduction (DRR) policies and governance include mainstreaming DRR within agricultural development planning, developing capacities for disaster impact monitoring, and strengthening coherence between DRR and climate change adaptation processes.

Key policy messages

  • Many small- and medium-scale disasters can be avoided – or their impact limited – if effective risk reduction measures are put in place. As the number and impact of disasters is increasing significantly, it is crucial that all countries shift from reactive disaster response to more proactive prevention and risk-informed investments.
  • Rural communities are direct custodians of the environment; the way they manage natural resources can prevent natural hazards from becoming disasters and crises. Ecosystem services provided by farmers should be acknowledged, costed, and translated into tangible returns for them. Risk-informed policies should include this “buffer” role of agriculture and adequate budget allocation.
  • There is a need to strengthen and ensure greater coherence between DRR and climate change adaptation (CCA) in agriculture. The integration of DRR into sectoral plans and other development strategies, and the alignment of national/local DRR strategies/plans with national climate action plans and SDG targets is crucial in order to leave no one behind. This requires multi-sectoral, multi-hazard and preventive and anticipatory approaches that consistently integrate disaster, climate and crisis risk management to strengthen the resilience of people, their agricultural livelihoods and the ecosystems they depend on in a sustainable manner.
  • Risk-sensitive agriculture and food systems are key to secure development gains across the Humanitarian-Development-Peace nexus. The interconnected risks and their cascading impacts have grave implication for agrifood systems. To curb the increase of people and communities in need of humanitarian assistance, it is critical to embed and scale up DRR in humanitarian actions and to ensure that such interventions are gender and conflict-sensitive.

  • Risk-informed policies and incentives are needed to increase investment in disaster prevention and preparedness and upscale evidence-based DRR good practices. Investments in prevention and preparedness for agriculture pay off as the benefits from farm-level DRR good practices are on average 2.2 times higher than from previously used farming practices.

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