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The State of Food Insecurity in the World
Addressing food insecurity in protracted crises
2010
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP)


Key messages
  • The number and the proportion of undernourished people have declined, but they remain unacceptably high. After increasing from 2006 to 2009 due to high food prices and the global economic crisis, both the number and proportion of hungry people have declined in 2010 as the global economy recovers and food prices remain below their peak levels. But hunger remains higher than before the crises, making it ever more difficult to achieve the hunger-reduction targets of the World Food Summit and Millennium Development Goal 1.

  • Countries in protracted crisis require special attention. They are characterized by long-lasting or recurring crises and often limited or little capacity to respond, exacerbating food insecurity problems in those countries. Appropriate responses thus differ from those required in short-term crises or in non-crisis development contexts.

  • Improving food security in protracted crises requires going beyond short-term responses in order to protect and promote people’s livelihoods over the longer term. People living in protracted crises are often forced to make radical adjustments in their way of life that require longer-term responses. This disruption to traditional livelihoods and coping mechanisms also has very different implications for men and for women.

  • Supporting institutions is key to addressing protracted crises. Protracted crises, whether human-induced or the result of repeated natural disasters, often undermine the institutions that are necessary to contain and recover from crises. Local institutions often remain or emerge to fill crucial gaps when national institutions have failed, and these have the potential to play a key role in addressing protracted crises, but they are often ignored by external actors.

  • Agriculture and the rural economy are key sectors for supporting livelihoods in protracted crises, but they are not properly reflected in aid flows. Agricultural and rural-based livelihoods are critical to the groups most affected by protracted crises. Agriculture accounts for a third of protracted crisis countries’ gross domestic product and twothirds of their employment. Yet agriculture accounts for only 4 percent of humanitarian ODA received by countries in protracted crisis and 3 percent of development ODA.

  • The current aid architecture needs to be modified to better address both immediate needs and the structural causes of protracted crises. The current system uses humanitarian assistance to support short-term efforts to address the immediate effects of a crisis, and development assistance for long-term interventions to address underlying causes. Areas of intervention that are important in protracted crises (including social protection and risk reduction) are often underfunded. In general, weak governance structures in protracted crisis situations condition aid allocations.

  • Food assistance helps build the basis for long-term food security, and is particularly important in countries in protracted crisis. Humanitarian food assistance not only saves lives, but is also an investment in a country's future, because it preserves and strengthens the human assets and livelihoods that are the foundation of future stability and development. The use of a varied set of food assistance tools (such as food, cash or vouchers), complemented by innovations in how food is procured (including local purchase), helps to ensure that appropriate assistance is provided and to maximize the chance that humanitarian food assistance will serve as a strong basis for food security in the longer term.

  • Broader social protection measures help countries cope with protracted crises and lay the foundation for long-term recovery. Key interventions include providing safety nets, insurance when appropriate, and services such as health and education, which build bridges to longer-term development. In countries in protracted crisis, however, financial, institutional and implementation capacity are limited, so social protection programmes are generally short-term, relief-oriented and externally funded.

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