Skip to main content

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its Fifth Assessment Report is clear: the advent of more frequent and intense disasters caused by climate change could negatively affect people’s ability to produce, access and consume food. Rural areas are the most affected and the risk is disproportionately high for particularly vulnerable groups – including female-headed households and those with scarce access to land, productive assets or education.

A firm understanding of the links and potential impacts of climate change on food insecurity can inform action taken on the ground to prepare for weather-related disasters and enhance the ability of governments and communities to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change.

The World Food Programme (WFP), in partnership with governments, NGOs and research institutions, works at the global, national and local level to produce analysis that matches information on livelihood systems, nutrition dynamics and other environmental and socio-economic factors with data on climate risk.

Specifically, climate analysis seeks to:

  • understand the links and potential impacts of climate change on food insecurity;
  • identify the communities that are most vulnerable to current and future risks; and
  • guide policies and action to prepare for weather-related disasters with a view to reducing climate-related food insecurity.

Globally, WFP’s collaboration with the UK Met Office has resulted in the production of the Food Insecurity and Climate Change Vulnerability Index. Presented in the form of an interactive map, it shows how climate change could affect current and future vulnerability to food insecurity in the least developed countries, under different adaptation and emission scenarios.

At the national level, the tools and methodologies for this work are varied and context-specific. In some countries, WFP produces analyses of climate trends and their impact on food security, providing information for planning and programming purposes. In Kyrgyzstan, this analysis identified households dependent on small-scale agriculture, unskilled wage labour and social allowances as most vulnerable. It also recommended strategies to ensure their resilience, anticipate risks and integrate climate risk management structures into broader social protection plans.

In other cases, the focus is on livelihoods. In Sri Lanka, WFP and the government identified 20 different livelihood zones, analyzed climate variability and disasters, and made projections for the future. Livelihood zones were then ranked according to their experiences of food security, diversity of economic activities and sensitivity of income to climate hazards.

WFP also works with local Met Offices, national authorities and communities to better understand local needs, taking into account different socio-economic, indigenous and gender concerns. Local-level analysis contributes to the design and strengthening of climate services, micro-insurance and integrated risk management projects that address context-specific needs and target those who are most vulnerable to food insecurity and climate risks. Through a variety of tools – including mobile phone text messages and the use of community radios – these services provide farmers with accurate and regular weather updates, allowing them to make informed decisions about their crops.