Policy Support and Governance Gateway
©FAO/ Noel Celis

Emergencies and Rural Livelihoods

Despite significant progress, nearly 132 million people in 42 countries need some form of humanitarian assistance. Conflict and climate shocks are the main drivers of crises. Yemen remains the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.

Investing in protecting agricultural livelihoods.

Agriculture is the main source of livelihoods for a majority of crisis-affected populations, and plays a crucial role in saving lives, while allowing families to produce their own nutritious food and generate income. 

FAO helps vulnerable communities to strengthen their food security by anticipating, preparing for and preventing crises; responding quickly and effectively when disaster does strike; and investing in stronger recovery and resilient livelihoods.  

FAO also plays an important coordination role in humanitarian emergencies (as co-lead of the Global Food Security Cluster); engages in strategic partnerships with other UN agencies and regional partners; provides early warning information; and undertakes food security and resilience analysis to strengthen rural livelihoods.

Key policy messages

  • Responses to emergency situations must tackle the underlying causes that lead to a crisis as well as address   immediate needs for food and nutrition. Agriculture has a critical role to play in building family and community resilience.
  • Policies that facilitate and increase immediate and long-term investment in agriculture are urgently needed in countries exposed to recurrent shocks. They must increase and diversify available food and help families to become self-sufficient.
  • Policies aiming to support agricultural livelihoods in emergency situations (e.g. through cash transfers, local and regional procurement of inputs, and public purchases) are key to reduce suffering and forced migration.
  • Robust assessments are critical to determine when and where crises may occur, and to anticipate and respond with appropriate programmes and policies. The FAO RIMA, GIEWS and IPC partnerships are valuable tools and models. Investment in better information, data and statistics is critical to save lives, and improves analysis, recommendations and action.
  • Partnerships and collaboration among agencies, governments and NGOs is essential in emergencies. Humanitarian assistance and long-term development policies need to be better coordinated. FAO plays an important role as a reliable partner and co-lead of the Food Security Cluster, coordinating food security responses in humanitarian crises.

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