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Resilience in Protracted Crises

Protracted crises are contexts in which a significant proportion of the population is acutely vulnerable to hunger, disease and disruptions to livelihoods over prolonged periods. In these situations, undernourishment is severe, long-standing and almost three times more frequent than in other developing contexts. FAO currently identifies 22 countries with a protracted crisis situation. Of these, 16 were in this category in 2010, 13 of which are in Africa.

Strengthen livelihoods in protracted crises through policy guidance.

Almost all countries with a protracted crisis have experienced violent conflict over prolonged periods of time; in six such contexts, conflict has been ongoing for at least 18 of the last 20 years.

FAO provides policy guidance, builds partnerships, and supports in-country programmes to strengthen conflict-sensitive livelihoods and food systems in protracted crisis situations. These help support vulnerable communities and households, improving their food and nutrition status, whilst building resilience to future shocks and stressors.

Key policy messages

·        By mid-2022, the population facing the three highest phases of acute food insecurity was greater than at any point in the six year history of the Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC). Up to 205 million people were in Crisis or worse (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above) or equivalent in 45 of the 53 countries/territories included in the GRFC 2022, where comparable data were available in 2022. The increases in the acutely food-insecure population are mainly the product of a combination of conflict, successive and sustained economic shocks, and weather extremes that adversely impact food security at the national, regional and global level. Expanded geographic or population coverage of assessments is a contributing factor to the increasing figures of people facing acute food insecurity.

·        The main drivers of food crises – conflict and insecurity, global and national economic shocks and weather extremes – are continuous and relentless, and compounded by long-term pressures on food systems. The GRFC 2022 aims to identify the most prominent driver of acute food insecurity for each country/territory, but these drivers are often interlinked and mutually reinforcing, rendering it difficult to specify a singular trigger of each food crisis. In 2021, around 72 percent of the population facing Crisis or worse (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above) or equivalent were living in 24 countries/territories where conflict/insecurity was considered the primary driver of food crises. Economic shocks formed the main driver of food crises in 21 countries in 2021, where was located 16 percent of the population in Crisis or worse (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above) or equivalent identified in the GRFC 2022. Weather extremes were the main drivers of acute food insecurity in eight African countries, accounting for 12 percent of the population in Crisis or worse (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above) or equivalent.

·        In this context, the Global Network Against Food Crises (GNAFC) offers a platform for the international community to coordinate concerted and coherent efforts towards preventing food and nutrition crises, mitigating their impacts, and boosting resilient and sustainable post crisis recovery and rehabilitation for transforming agriculture and food-systems. It involves working at the global, regional and national levels to support partnerships within existing structures and to improve advocacy, decision-making, policy and programming through shared analysis and knowledge, strengthened coordination in evidence-based responses and collective efforts across the Humanitarian, Development and Peace (HDP) nexus.

·        Continue to address not only the immediate symptoms of food crises but also focusing on their root causes (considering global regional and national dimensions of risks), policies in protracted crises should look to the future through linkages across the HDP nexus to increase community, household, food systems and ecosystem resilience.

·        Policies and actions must be informed with contextual understanding of complex dynamics and drivers of vulnerability such as conflict and insecurity, climate change, environmental degradation, and demographic change.

·        Promote, support and strengthen local and national institutional and organizational capacities is critical in ensuring improved food security and nutrition outcomes in protracted crises. This must be done with great care and with respect for informal and traditional institutions and based on good understanding of natural resource management (such as land and water), which can often be at the basis of  local tensions and disputes. FAO supports transparent and inclusive governance practices that involve civil society and indigenous/local populations, which are adapted to their contextual realities.

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