Natural and man-made disasters are among the main drivers of hunger and malnutrition. They cause the loss of lives and livelihoods, destroy homes, productive assets and infrastructure, and affect the availability of food and water. The strategies people adopt to cope – including selling cattle and tools for food, and taking children out of school to work – can have long-lasting effects, trapping them in a cycle of hunger and poverty.
For the World Food Programme (WFP), working to prevent, mitigate and prepare for disasters is an essential part of its mandate to combat global hunger. As many as half of WFP’s programmes address the risks of natural disasters and their repercussions on food security, reaching approximately 80 million people each year.
WFP’s policy on Disaster Risk Reduction commits it to preventing acute hunger and investing in disaster preparedness and mitigation measures. The policy guides WFP’s action to support the implementation –at both government and community levels – of the international framework for disaster risk reduction adopted in Sendai, Japan, in 2015.
WFP works with governments to strengthen their capacity to prepare for, assess and respond to hunger caused by disasters, and to develop national policies and plans that address the impact of disasters on nutrition.
To enhance the ability of communities to mitigate disaster risks and cope when disasters strike, WFP supports activities that reduce disaster risk while improving food security: soil and water conservation, the development of flood protection infrastructure, and the rehabilitation of roads. In Kyrgyzstan, a WFP-backed project addressing deforestation through the creation of tree nurseries and increased tree planting is providing the local community with better nutrition and increased resilience in the face of environmental shocks.
WFP also works to improve emergency preparedness and planning, and to ensure readiness to respond to disasters and reduce their impact on vulnerable populations. Examples can be seen in some of the most disaster-prone provinces in the Philippines, where WFP is providing emergency response training and equipment to local government units; enabling Automated Weather Stations that provide vital information regarding incoming weather disturbances; and carrying out slope stabilization to protect people and their farms.