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Climate Action 2011-2012


44 © WFP/Riccardo Gangale Rwanda. By engaging communities in constructing terraces, soil erosion can be limited, surface runoff managed, and landscapes can be transformed to support resilient livelihoods. of people affected and at risk of hunger – coupled with a general lack of preparedness to manage multiple stresses at the national and global level, are unique and unprecedented. We knoW WhaT WorkS As dire as the future could be, a far more depressing situation would be our inability to act and show leadership on the basis of what we know works, which can contribute to address the hunger problem today, and in the warmer world of the future. We know that enhancing food systems to deliver multiple benefits can lead to enhanced production and greater resilience and sustainability. Increasing the production and availability of nutritious food is fundamental to achieving food security. But increasing production must be achieved in ways that are both environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive. The sustainable intensification of agriculture will require agricultural systems that enhance output while sustaining the natural resource base. Pre- and post-harvest management also is instrumental in ensuring availability of food. In most developing countries communiTy reSilience and humaniTarian criSiS in The horn The current drought-related food security and humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa is affecting more than 13 million people. The crisis is most acute and exacerbated in areas where governance and security problems as well as a lack of investment in resilience are more pronounced, like in Southern Somalia. By comparison, in communities in countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, WFP and partners have been supporting national resilience initiatives. These investments have protected livelihoods and promoted rural development that has helped local communities better manage risk and prevent a further spread of the crisis. While much more is needed, this highlights that by investing early in people’s resilience, hunger and its subsequent implications can be avoided. huge gains can be achieved among poor smallholders by reducing post-harvest losses, especially in countries with poor infrastructure and management capacities. For example, in Africa, it is estimated that cutting post-harvest production losses could lead to an increase of food availability of up to 40 per cent (Global Food Losses and Food Waste, FAO 2011). We know that promoting access and social protection is critical to fighting hunger and fostering inclusive and more equitable development pathways. Having enough food in markets is not sufficient to ensure that all people, at all times, have access to nutritious food. We know that hunger is to a large extent a challenge of distribution, entitlement and access. Modern agricultural production systems have been designed to focus primarily on maximising production, with very little attention for the majority of world food producers – mainly the hundred millions of farmers and smallholders as well as subsistence and landless people and their families, who in many cases are left in the margins of mainstream development. For these vulnerable people, inclusive rural development policies coupled with productive safety nets and social protection interventions are critical to ensure access to food and nutrition security, especially during shocks and post-disaster recovery periods. Among others, WFP has demonstrated that the cost of hunger far exceeds the necessary investments in people’s food security and nutrition, and countries like Chile or Brazil provide live examples of the importance of effective social protection and nutrition policies for national development. The cost of hunger far exceeds the necessary investments in people’s food security and nutrition. Safety nets and similar transfer investment programmes must become an integral part of the provision of public goods at the national level. There is wide recognition today that these types of social investments in the poorest and most food-insecure are not so much a cost as an investment, not only in peoples’ welfare, but also in terms of economic growth. A classic example is provided by Brazil’s Zero Hunger programme which dramatically reduced hunger through investments, at a cost of about one per cent of the national budget. As a comparison, the estimated cost of hunger amounts to as much as 11 per cent of gross domestic product in some countries (The Cost of Hunger, WFP 2008). We know that developing systems for risk management allows people to cope with the unpredictable. Building climate proof food systems and enhancing people’s resilience to climate change are two closely intertwined objectives. Among poor communities living in fragile lands and ecosystems, it is critical that both livelihood protection and innovative risk management tools and services are provided and made affordable. Integrating disaster risk management and climate risk analysis into planning is becoming an urgent

equirement, especially in fragile and risk prone countries and regions. These solutions can also include risk transfer schemes (crop insurance for example), early warning systems to trigger contingent funds and rapidly scale up response-systems, risk reserves in the form of savings, as well as physical disaster risk reduction and adaptation measures built by local people to protect lives and livelihoods. By putting in place protective measures in time not only can human suffering be limited, but it is also money well spent – as pointed out by the Humanitarian Emergency Response Review (HERR 2011), which estimated that every pound spent to build resilience saves four in response. We know that women are the key to household food security. Women dominate the agriculture sector and account for over 60 per cent of the agriculture workforce in some countries and are the main producers of much of the food required to meet household needs. Surveys from a wide range of countries further suggest that up to 90 per cent of the time required to prepare food for consumption is done by women (State of Food and Agriculture FAO 2010). In Africa, it is estimated that about 80 percent of the continent’s smallholder farmers are women (Realising a New Vision for Agriculture, World Economic Forum 2010). However, women have far fewer resources than men do to help them and their families adapt and respond to emerging challenges. Far more than men, women are denied access to essential inputs like credit, fertiliser, extension services, and improved seed, or livestock. And women can often not assume title for a piece of land. Ensuring social protection and safety nets for the most vulnerable and food-insecure must be a policy goal for all societies. Eliminating the gap between men and women in access to agricultural resources and inputs could raise yields on women’s farms by 20-30 per cent, which in turn could reduce the number of undernourished people in the world by 12-17 per cent, or 100-150 million people (Women in Agriculture, FAO 2011). Empowering women is therefore a precondition for ending hunger. acTing noW and for The fuTure A global system that leaves billions of people in poverty and hunger is not sustainable. Priorities going forward must aim at enhancing the focus on sustainable food systems that link production to natural resource management and access issues, developing robust and resilient livelihoods, and ensuring food security and nutrition outcomes for all. In this context ensuring social protection and safety nets for the most vulnerable and food-insecure must be a policy goal for all societies, especially under the new climate change scenario. And we must enhance our focus on women as the engine of change. mereT – building reSilience aT Scale Having an unparalleled capacity to reach and engage foodinsecure communities is one of WFP’s trademarks. WFP supports programmes that address food security and resilience building outcomes in a large number of countries. MERET, a longstanding productive safety net programme in Ethiopia, is perhaps the best known success story. Under MERET, the Government of Ethiopia, together with WFP, have built community resilience to a wide array of different shocks. Households participating in MERET have seen an increase in food security by 50 per cent. The programme has rehabilitated over a million hectares of land, and reforested another 600,000, ultimately transforming the landscape; and has enabled households to raise their incomes and build sustainable livelihoods. Experiences from programmes of this type are ready to be scaled up and can be replicated. Fortunately, there are many good experiences to build on. Innovative people, communities and countries offer convincing examples of inclusive, sustainable and scalable solutions. More is needed. One of the crucial requirements is a global, concerted transformative effort focusing on people’s livelihoods, landscapes and food systems. It is only by developing an integrated vision of these factors, and by fostering more inclusive development pathways, that we can achieve food security now, and under the far more difficult conditions of a radically altered climate. Sheila Sisulu became Deputy Executive Director for Hunger Solutions in the Office of the Executive Director of the World Food Programme in January 2008. Prior to this appointment, Ms Sisulu served as WFP’s Deputy Executive Director for Policy and External Affairs Department from 2003. Before joining WFP, Ms Sisulu was South Africa’s Ambassador to the United States. Her diplomatic career began in 1997 as Consul General in New York and as Ambassador to Washington two years later. Carlo Scaramella has led the activities of the World Food Programme in the areas of climate change, environment and disaster risk reduction since mid 2009. Before this, Mr Scaramella has been Chief of WFP’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Branch, with former extensive field experience with WFP and other UN agencies and institutions in many countries, including El Salvador, Angola, Sudan and Somalia. He is an Italian national and holds a Doctorate in Political Science. The World Food Programme (WFP) is the United Nations frontline agency in the fight against global hunger and food insecurity. Its mission and mandate is to save lives in emergencies, protect and rebuild livelihoods in post-conflict situations, address acute and chronic hunger, and build capacities to prevent and tackle the long-term causes of hunger and food insecurity. For more information on WFP’s climate related work, visit or contact Via C.G.Viola 68, Parco dei Medici, 00148 Rome, Italy Tel: +39 06 65131 | Fax: +39 06 6590632 | Web: 45