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Fighting hunger and poverty through resilience

Recurrent crises have affected 31 million people in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel region of Africa, while natural disasters have hit populations hard from Haiti to Japan. These are only the latest arguments for a sustained effort to increase the resilience of vulnerable people. Resilience saves more lives and contributes to poverty reduction. It is also cost-effective, boosts the impact of aid and contributes to sustainable development.

A field in Palboa (Burkina Faso) © Raphael de Bengy, March 2012

Resilience is a joint prerogative of Europe's humanitarian and development policies. The European Commission has already proposed measures and is taking concrete steps to increase the resilience and decrease the vulnerability of people at risk of disasters ('The EU Approach to Resilience: Learning from Food Security Crises'  communication). These build on the promising results of the Commission's resilience-boosting in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa through the Global Alliance for Resilience Initiative (AGIR-Sahel) and Supporting the Horn of Africa's Resilience (SHARE) initiatives respectively.

SHARE initiative – enabling communities to face complex and more frequent disasters

Water is a big issue in the dry lands of the Horn of Africa. © Malini Morzaria EU/ECHO

Water is a big issue in the dry lands of the Horn of Africa. © Malini Morzaria EU/ECHO

Droughts are more frequent and severe in the chronically dry Horn of Africa region. They also hurt more people, due to population growth, the pressure on resources and the combination with political instability. This means that millions of people, especially the poorest, have no chance to recover from past droughts and prepare for upcoming ones.

This was evident in 2011 when the Horn suffered one of the worst droughts in the last 60 years. It led to a large humanitarian crisis, affecting over 13 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia.

Following this crisis, the European Commission launched SHARE to improve the ability of people, communities and countries when facing recurrent crises. With aid allocation of over 270 million EUR in 2012 and 2013, SHARE is boosting resilience by improving the chances of farming and herding communities to make a living and rely on public services.

AGIR initiative – reducing vulnerabilities in a fragile region

In 2012, severe drought and failed harvest left 18 million people across the Sahel region of Africa without enough to eat. The natural disaster was compounded by poverty, poor governance and access to basic services, environmental degradation and rapid population growth. Malnutrition rates spiked, especially among the poorest and most vulnerable (children, women).

While drought is inevitable, hunger and suffering are not. This is why the European Commission initiated the AGIR-Sahel initiative in June 2012, together with governments, UN agencies and other humanitarian and development actors. It is a roadmap for better coordination of humanitarian and development aid – so that it can better protect the most vulnerable from future disasters.