This article has been written by Francesca Fryer, Campaigns and Parliamentary Officer at Concern Worldwide UK, and has been published with permission from Concern Worldwide UK.
Together with The All Party Parliamentary Group on Agriculture and Food for Development, Concern Worldwide convened a round table discussion in June to discuss how to tackle natural disasters and others crises that prevent the world's poorest people from lifiting themselves out of poverty.
The event was chaired by Jonathan Dimbleby and attended by 12 parliamentarians, including International Development Minister Desmond Swayne, as well as researchers and officials from the Department for International Development. The discussion started with a presentation from Concern's Dom Hunt who explained why we need to build resilience to disasters at a community level:
'The world is changing, there are more disasters in the world. These are driven by climate change, changing consumption patterns, environmental degradation. There are also more people in the world and these people are living in inherently vulnerable areas – such as large cities on active fault lines. Disasters are not just a bump in the road for development; they derail the whole process with regard to agriculture and food security. If we allow disasters to happen, we derail everything we've been doing. We need to get a handle on disasters or we will not be able to help people develop.'
Building resilience means being prepared for the predictable disasters that affect communities, like climatic shocks. If we prepare for a disaster before it turns into a crisis, communities have a better chance of recovering quickly. And the research shows that it not only saves lives, but saves money too. DFID's own research in Ethiopia shows that for every £1 spent on building a community's resilience to prevent food crises, £8 is saved in future emergency response. See how resilience works in practice in our 'Resilient Village'.
Resilience isn't something that can be imposed from outside; it's something that emerges out of collaboration with communities, experts, donors and government at all levels. Helping people to build their assets and their livelihoods so that they can pull themselves out of poverty and prevent themselves from falling into crisis is a collaborative process. Donor countries, national governments, local governments, local and international NGOs and the communities most at risk need to all work together to confront an increasingly hazardous world.
Our campaign, Growing Resilience, asks governments to scale up funding for programmes that build community resilience to food crises. It also asks national governments in countries in East and West Africa to include resilience building in their national policy frameworks. Working together, we can tackle predictable and preventable food crises so communities can access sufficient, nutritious food.
The round table opened up opportunities for us to collaborate further with the UK government and parliamentarians to tackle hunger by ensuring that the poorest communities are better prepared for, and can recover from, disasters. You can read more about what we're asking the UK government to do here.