FAO s role in emergencies MISSION STATEMENT FAO is

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FAO s role in emergencies MISSION STATEMENT FAO is Powered By Docstoc
					FAO’s role in emergencies                           MISSION STATEMENT


                               FAO is a key player in emergencies. Its focus is on food production and
                                 agriculture, reflecting its specialization and responsibility within the
                            United Nations family. Assisting in preventing disaster-related emergencies,
                             providing early warnings of food emergencies and helping in rehabilitation
                              of food production systems are FAO’s predominant roles in humanitarian
                                aid. The main forms of FAO’s intervention include needs assessments,
                              provision of agricultural inputs and technical assistance for the planning
                                  and management of sustainable recovery and rehabilitation of rural
                                                           production systems.


                               UNDERSTANDING EMERGENCIES                     to changes in the environment. Vulnerability
                                                                             to emergencies attributable to natural
                                         Natural disasters                   disasters is largely explained by poverty.
                            Disasters in developing countries are largely
                            associated with natural hazards. Earth-               Man-made disasters and complex
                            quakes and volcanic eruptions are                                emergencies
                            spectacular examples of natural hazards,         Over the past ten years a number of complex
                            but these geological events do not do as         emergencies have arisen in which there has
                            much damage or cost as much as climatic          been civil strife or even war, and in some
                            hazards. Hurricanes, floods and drought          cases the State has collapsed. Although
                            cause significant loss in rural production       natural disasters have also frequently been
                            systems, including loss of life.                 present, they have not been the dominant
                              People live in dangerous places because        factor in the emergency. In such circum-
                            resources are found in these places.             stances essential services are disrupted,
                            Coastlines have fish and shellfish,              infrastructure is destroyed, people flee from
                            mangroves and other forests, but they are        the land, and food production and marketing
                            susceptible to hurricanes. Floodplains           systems break down. Immediate hunger and
                            provide alluvial soils and access to water,      longer-term dependence on food relief are
                            but they are liable to flood. Arid and semi-     the consequences unless prompt action is
                            arid areas offer rangeland resources for         taken to create conditions in which affected
                            pastoralists, but the risk of drought is high.   populations can resume productive activity.
                              People know the risks involved. Their
                            social and cultural traditions are frequently
                            designed to minimize these risks. Sharing           COSTS AND CONSEQUENCES OF
                            resources, including land, and sharing                     EMERGENCIES
                            agricultural inputs, including labour, are
                            ways of minimizing risk. Sometimes               Global losses resulting from natural and man-
           O                calamity is too great and catastrophe            made disasters were some US$10 000 million
                            overwhelms people. Their risk-minimizing         in the 1960s, rising to some US$93 000 million
                            strategies and their coping mechanisms           in the 1980s. With the increase in complex
                            cease to be operational. Disaster strikes.       emergencies in the 1990s, costs are likely to
                              Disaster does not strike equally, and not      be even higher. More important, the human
                            all disasters result in emergencies. A drought   cost is intolerably high. Tens of millions of
                            in the American Great Plains does not            people are displaced within their own
                            threaten mass starvation as does a drought       countries or dispersed around the world as
                            in the African Sahel. Developed countries        refugees. In 1996, as a result of complex
                            have a series of support schemes, such as        emergencies, some 40 million people were
                            disaster relief and crop insurance, that         depending on international assistance for
                            mitigate the impact of natural disasters;        their protection or survival. The number of
                            developing countries usually do not. People      lives lost to starvation-related causes may,
                            in developing countries are more vulnerable      however, be less than in previous decades,
as emergency response and famine-prevention          to mitigate their impact and to accelerate a
programmes have increased in magnitude and           recovery process that will lead to sustainable
efficiency.                                          agricultural development.
   Aid flows reflect the increase in priority for
humanitarian assistance. Humanitarian
assistance has doubled since 1990, against a            PREVENTION, PREPAREDNESS AND
fall in the value of total aid. In 1994                        EARLY WARNING
humanitarian assistance, amounting to some
US$6 000 million, accounted for almost 10            FAO provides technical assistance to its member
percent of total global development assistance.      countries to strengthen their capacity to prevent
The size of that bill has prompted donors to         or mitigate natural disasters such as windstorms,
emphasize the importance of pre-disaster,            hurricanes and cyclones, floods, landslides, wild
precautionary planning. It has also drawn            fires, tropical deforestation and drought. Such
attention to the importance of rehabilitation        assistance covers actions such as establishment
programmes to move people quickly from               of shelterbelt plantations, forestation and forest
expensive humanitarian assistance towards            management, watershed management, range-
food self-sufficiency.                               land management, fire control, control of soil
   FAO supports the principle that prevention        erosion, establishment of fuelwood plantations,
is better than cure. The first line of defence is    sand dune stabilization, utilization of alternative
action on the ground to develop production           fuels, adoption of drought-tolerant field and tree
systems that are less vulnerable to disaster. In     crops, introduction of early-maturing varieties,
the event that disaster happens, the global          adoption of cultural practices for soil moisture
warnings that FAO provides and the                   retention, crop diversification and construction
preparedness actions that it has supported up        of flood control dikes.
to that point should permit an early response           The Special Programme for Food Security
to food and agricultural emergencies. When an        (SPFS) is aimed at reducing variability and
emergency does develop, the consequences of          improving sustainable productivity of staple
not treating it promptly and efficiently will be     production in low-income food-deficit
chronic hunger and dependency. When a cure           countries. Through better water control,
is required, it should be specific to the            sustainable intensification of crop production,
conditions created by the particular emergency       diversification of production and removal of
situation, so that full recovery can take place in   socio-economic constraints, the SPFS will
the shortest possible time.                          alleviate the impact of disasters.
                                                        FAO assists its member countries in
                                                     minimizing the adverse effects of disasters
       THE EMERGENCY SEQUENCE                        through precautionary actions and by ensuring
                                                     timely, appropriate and efficient organization
Intervention in emergencies can be best              and delivery of emergency response following
described in terms of a sequence of events,          the impact of a disaster.
sometimes referred to as a disaster cycle, with         Prevention and control of pest and disease
eight distinct phases, each requiring different      emergencies is a significant technical service
action. The phases are:                              offered by FAO. Through the Emergency
   • prevention;                                     Prevention System for Transboundary Animal
   • preparedness;                                   and Plant Pests and Diseases (EMPRES), FAO
   • early warning;                                  tackles outbreaks of livestock diseases such as
   • impact and needs assessment immediately         rinderpest and contagious bovine pleuro-
     following a disaster;                           pneumonia and mounts eradication and
   • relief, when immediate humanitarian             containment programmes for screwworm.
     assistance is required;                         Through the Emergency Centre for Locust
   • rehabilitation, when the first attempts to      Operations, EMPRES also monitors the
     rebuild the rural livelihood system take        presence of locust swarms, as well as the threat
     place;                                          of large-scale crop destruction by flocks of
   • reconstruction, when the destroyed              birds, and arranges for preventive actions when
     infrastructure is replaced;                     required.
   • sustainable recovery, when conditions              FAO’s assistance includes the development
     return to normal.                               of institutional frameworks at regional, national
  FAO is involved, together with national            and local levels for managing risk and coping
authorities and their internal and external          with emergencies, the development of regional
partners, in all of these phases. Conscious of       and national early warning and food
the high costs of emergency operations, FAO          information systems, the establishment and
continuously seeks to prevent disaster-related       management of food security reserves and the
emergencies, but should they occur, FAO seeks        formulation of preparedness plans which
describe the response mechanisms to be used in       surpluses which may be available for local
the event of a disaster.                             purchases. These reports have a high profile in
  FAO operates the Global Information and            donor pledging processes and are a critical input
Early Warning System for Food and Agriculture        into any humanitarian appeal from the UN
(GIEWS), based on satellite imagery, field           system.
reports and market information. Six times each          Emergency food relief is provided through
year it publishes Food Outlook in five languages,    WFP and bilateral donors. However, approval
giving a global overview of current agricultural     of WFP emergency operations above a certain
production and stocks. Foodcrops and Shortages,      threshold requires the consent of the Director-
published in four languages, is also distributed     General of FAO as well as of the Executive
six times a year, detailing individual country       Director of WFP. Within FAO, the analysis on
situations. Food Supply Situation and Crop           which the Director-General’s decision is based
Prospects in Sub-Saharan Africa, in English and      is prepared by GIEWS.
French, is published quarterly, highlighting            Provision of emergency agricultural relief and
needs for donor assistance in the most               early recovery assistance is the responsibility of
vulnerable continent. Sahel Weather and Crop         FAO’s Special Relief Operations Service. This
Situation is produced monthly during the             service has four main functions:
Sahelian growing season, providing the latest            • assessment of emergency agricultural
information on weather and crop conditions for             relief requirements and related project
the nine member countries of the Permanent                 preparation;
Interstate Committee for Drought Control in              • resource mobilization;
the Sahel (CILSS).                                       • project implementation, including moni-
  FAO is also responsible for fielding, together           toring and impact assessment;
with the World Food Programme (WFP), the                 • advice and support for the preparation of
FAO/WFP crop and food supply assessment                    rehabilitation programmes.
missions. These missions, which review the              The Special Relief Operations Service makes
overall food supply outlook and evaluate the         arrangements for quick, comprehensive
seriousness and extent of food shortages within      assessments of the essential inputs needed to
countries, are based on on-the-ground                restore production following a disaster. National
observation. Special alerts, usually based on crop   needs for inputs to produce food in the aftermath
and food supply assessment mission reports, are      of a disaster are assessed by the FAO/WFP crop
released on an ad hoc basis. GIEWS reports are       and food supply assessment missions. Each
available on FAO’s home page on the Internet.        assessment is carefully checked by the
                                                     appropriate technical services of FAO.
                                                        The essential inputs for restoring production
          EMERGENCY RELIEF AND                       are provided mainly through grants from
             REHABILITATION                          members to the concerned governments, either
                                                     directly or through non-governmental organi-
Persons directly affected by disasters, along        zations (NGOs) or multilateral organizations,
with displaced people and refugees in complex        including FAO. From 1991 to 1996 the Special
emergencies, require food relief. But such relief    Relief Operations Service formulated and
should be accompanied by agricultural relief –       managed over 300 projects with a total value of
provided through seeds and tools programmes          some US$169 million. Of these projects 40 percent
of FAO and other partners – to move people           were in Africa south of the Sahara, 29 percent in
quickly from expensive humanitarian assistance       North Africa and the Near East and 15 percent in
programmes towards food self-reliance as soon        Asia. While the average annual value of relief
as possible.                                         projects amounted to around US$28 million, in
  FAO’s work in post-disaster and complex            some years the figure was considerably higher.
emergency situations emphasizes rehabilitation       For example, in the food crisis years of 1993 and
and recovery. The reconstruction of food and         1994 the annual value reached US$38 million and
agricultural production systems, including the       US$35 million, respectively. In 1997 the amount is
supporting transport and market networks, is         expected to reach a record high, having already
the reconstruction of rural livelihood systems –     amounted to US$36 million in the first half of the
essential if people are to regain development        year. (A sizeable portion of this amount is
opportunity.                                         accounted for by the agricultural relief and
  Once an emergency situation has been declared,     rehabilitation programme in Iraq.)
the first step in mobilizing humanitarian               The major bilateral donor has been the
assistance is the assessment of needs. The           Netherlands, with substantial monies also
assessment reports produced by the FAO/WFP           coming from Sweden. Italy, the United
missions referred to above provide estimates of      Kingdom, Canada and the United States have
critical food shortages within countries requiring   all contributed significantly to relief efforts. The
international assistance, as well as of localized    major multilateral donor has been the United
Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs          humanitarian assistance requirements and
(DHA); substantial contributions have also          shorten response times in emergencies.
been made by the European Community (EC)              The increase in emergency situations,
and the Office of the United Nations High           especially complex emergencies, saw the
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).                  creation of the United Nations Department of
  FAO uses its own procurement services to          Humanitarian Affairs in 1992. FAO sits on the
purchase inputs because it can demonstrably         Inter-agency Standing Committee (IASC),
obtain inputs quickly and at a lower cost. If       which is chaired by the Emergency Relief
inputs are available locally or in the subregion,   Coordinator, and participates in the UN
they can be purchased by the FAO                    Humanitarian Early Warning System and
representation in the country or, if large          ReliefWeb, as well as in DHA missions that
amounts are involved, through the fielding of       pull together UN inter-agency consolidated
a procurement mission from headquarters.            appeals.
Such operations normally commence within              In the preparation of such appeals, FAO is
one week of confirmation that funds will be         responsible for agricultural relief needs
provided.                                           assessment and, in cooperation with WFP,
                                                    for food needs assessment. FAO is also
                                                    responsible for the formulation of inter-
    FACILITATING RAPID RESPONSE                     ventions aimed at immediate relief and
                                                    agricultural rehabilitation efforts for inclusion
In mid-1996 a new Field Programme Circular          in the appeals.
was sent to all FAO Representatives outlining         FAO has formal agreements with WFP
FAO’s role and procedures to ensure a rapid         outlining respective roles and responsibilities.
and coherent response to any emergency              The Organization collaborates actively with
originating from natural or man-made                UNHCR for the supply of agricultural inputs to
disasters affecting the food and agriculture        refugees.
sectors. FAO may field an Emergency                   Beyond the immediate United Nations
Coordinator, for up to one year, to coordinate      family, FAO has strong partnerships with the
monitoring and assessment activities,               World Bank, the International Fund for
provision of agricultural inputs, and planning      Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the
for recovery and rehabilitation of rural            regional financing institutions in agricultural
production systems if the nature of the             rehabilitation and reconstruction.
emergency so requires.                                FAO implements projects directly or with
  Several in-house technical guides have been       assistance from NGOs. NGOs are both
prepared by the relevant technical services in      providers and users of GIEWS information.
FAO, for prevention, preparedness, early            Save the Children Fund (United Kingdom)
warning, needs assessment and relief and            has entered into a formal relationship with
rehabilitation activities before, during and        FAO for the development of risk maps as a
after a disaster. These guides are currently        support to the early warning analysis
being drawn together in an FAO emergency            conducted by GIEWS. However, NGO
preparedness and response manual for use            partnerships have generally been informal.
by FAO staff, field experts and consultants in
all phases of an emergency.
  In order to enhance FAO’s institutional                    A GLOBAL WATCH AND
capacity to respond to increasing demands for                  TARGETED ACTION
humanitarian assistance, the FAO Emergency
Coordination Group, reporting directly to           FAO is constantly monitoring events,
FAO’s Deputy Director-General, has been             planning precautionary interventions and
reorganized and strengthened. FAO is prepared       issuing warnings. When disaster strikes, FAO
and ready to carry out its unique role in all       acts to mobilize global resources rapidly for
phases of a food and agricultural emergency.        emergency operations and for short-term
                                                    rehabilitation and early recovery inter-
                                                    ventions. As conditions return to normal, FAO
                  PARTNERS                          acts to restore rural production and to set
                                                    farmers on the road to sustainable recovery as
FAO has a long tradition of partnership with        quickly as possible.
others involved in humanitarian assistance.
  The United Nations system has modified the
way it handles emergency assistance. By
decentralizing and restructuring specialist
services to member countries, UN agencies,
including FAO, can more accurately assess
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