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A new paradigm for boosting the impact of humanitarian responses to food crises

Photo: ©FAO/Hkun Lat

In Myanmar, farmer Daw Mya Kyi's winter vegetable crop will help her family recover from recent flooding. The new EC-FAO-WFP initiative aims to improve food security monitoring following disasters, entre alia.

Joint European Commission / FAO / WFP news release 23 May 2016, Istanbul/Brussels/Rome – A new network to achieve joint global food-security assessments and joint responses to food crises, including those related to phenomena such as El Niño, was launched in Istanbul today by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the European Union.

The Global Network for Food Insecurity, Risk Reduction and Food Crises Response will pave the way for enhancing the impact of future responses to food crises at the global level by regularly producing, in real time, joint reports based on key analyses and containing timely response options.

This will prompt coordination among stakeholders and promote joint planning and joint responses to food crises. In addition, it will improve learning from past crises and increase the level of transparency and availability of crucial analysis of global needs.

The "Global Network" and its outputs are public goods, available for everybody. Participation in the network will be broadened to all key stakeholders that can contribute to the analysis and/or to the response. The network’s pilot publication “Global analysis of food and nutrition security situation in food crisis hotspots 2016” is the example that a joint analysis is possible. It covers 70 countries affected by a food crisis in 2015, including chronically vulnerable countries at or above Phase 2 of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC).

According to the report, currently some 240 million people across 70 countries are in a food stress situation, including 80 million people in food crisis (figures as of January 2016). Nearly half of those people are located in countries affected by the El Niño phenomenon.

Speaking at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin said the initiative will provide the best food security data to stakeholders.

“Gathering, analysing and sharing good data is vital to our collective efforts to meet the needs of the people who are furthest behind and most susceptible to climate shocks while building their resilience,” said Ms Cousin.

“In order to be an effective driver of change in managing food crises, food-security analyses need to be owned by national and regional stakeholders of the crises affected areas. We need to build on what already exists to create sustainable solutions,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva. “What we want to create today is a network of networks owned by all concerned stakeholders to guide governments, other international bodies, and civil-society partners, while also strengthening coordination among UN agencies.”   European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica, said: "Vulnerable people's needs of humanitarian and development assistance to face extreme events are growing. The situation is worsened by economic shocks, fragility, instability, insecurity, and climate change. The resources from the international community are not growing at the same pace due to global economic crisis. To help mitigate this, the European Commission pledged support of €539 million to respond to recent food crises, including those related to El Niño. We need to do more to enhance the effectiveness and impact of response to food crises both in the short- and long-term, and this should be the priority of the international community. The Global Network will contribute to this end by enhancing coordination and joint analysis while promoting joint planning and joint response."

Commissioner Mimica also called for "large participation from interested partners to the Global Network, to strengthen its nature of global public good. The Network is a tool at the disposal of the international community for enhancing coordination and collaboration, for producing better analyses and for more informed and efficient global response to future food crises." 

"I welcome this important initiative, said Christos Stylianides, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, adding: “It is a big step forward in improving our assessments of food insecurity, allowing us to make better and more informed decisions about how to best meet the food and nutritional needs of those affected by crisis and disaster. A better assessment makes our assistance to the most vulnerable more targeted and hence more effective."