Natural disasters are a leading cause of hunger and affect all dimensions of food security including access to food, availability and stability of supplies, and nutrition.
Most food insecure people live in areas prone to natural hazards and they are the least able to cope with shocks. Due to their vulnerability and limited capacity to manage risks, poor households are often trapped in a downward spiral of food insecurity and poverty.
Globally, disaster risk is increasing due to climate change and population growth and disaster frequently bring with them a food crisis. Yet there is increasing evidence that investments in reducing risk are cost effective. Studies show that one dollar invested today in disaster risk reduction saves four dollars or more in relief and rehabilitation costs in the future.
The WFP Policy on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, approved by the WFP Executive Board in 2011, highlights that disaster risk reduction is a central priority for WFP. In 2011, WFP supported over 23 million people in the most food insecure communities in the world to improve access to food, build resilience and reduce risk through food for assets and capacity building programmes such as food for training.
These programmes seek to build resilience and reduce risk; through activities such as soil and water conservation, rehabilitating infrastructure and training community members in disaster risk management and livelihood protection. For example, the MERET project in Ethiopia targets food insecure communities in degraded fragile ecosystems prone to drought-related food crises.
Innovation in disaster risk management
WFP supports governments in building theircapacity to manage disaster risk and to improve food security by integrating innovative tools, such as weather index insurance, into traditional risk management and social protection schemes.
WFP alsohelps bolster national disaster preparedness through an integrated system of early warning, contingency planning and finance and risk transfer tools. These integrated approaches help vulnerable countries shift from managing disasters to managing risks.
R4 Rural Resilience Initiative
The Rural Resilience Initiative (R4) is an innovative partnership between WFP and Oxfam America, with support from global reinsurer Swiss Re, to test a comprehensive disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation approach. R4 allows cash-poor farmers and rural households to pay for index insurance with their own labour, so they can both manage and take risks to build resilient livelihoods. Read more
Livelihoods Early Assessment and Protection (LEAP)
In Ethiopia, WFP has been assisting the Government develop an integrated risk management system through the Livelihoods Early Assessment and Protection (LEAP) project. LEAP provides early warning data on food security that allows the prompt scaleup of the National Productive Safety Net Programme by activating contingency plans.. When a serious drought or flood is detected, resources from a $US160 million contingency fund will be made immediately available to ensure early and more effective emergency response, protecting livelihoods and saving lives.Read more
WFP/IFAD Weather Risk Management Facility
The joint WFP/IFAD Weather Risk Management Facility (WRMF) supports the development of innovative weather and climate risk management tools – such as weather index insurance (WII) – that improve rural livelihoods and reduce hunger. Launched in 2008 with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the WRMF has tested weather index insurance in China and Ethiopia, and compiled a landmark study reviewing 38 index insurance pilots.
Weather Index-based Insurance: A Technical Guide
WFP and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) have been working together on weather index-based insurance (WII) since 2008 through the joint Weather Risk Management Facility (WRMF).