Author: FAO's James Ayodele - The renewed interest in resilience represents a historic opportunity for FAO, which is well positioned to contribute to the resilience agenda; nevertheless, the Organization has yet to make its presence fully felt and recognised in the “resilience space” especially at country level, says a recent evaluation report. FAO needs to strengthen and diversify its offer of high-quality resilience-enhancing services and create a stronger resilience-learning environment, the report adds.

Conducted by the Office of Evaluation in 2016, the evaluation reviewed the conceptual and planning framework for Strategic Objective 5 (SO5), which aims to “increase the resilience of livelihoods to threats and crises”, preliminary achievements of the corresponding Strategic Programme 5 (SP5) since implementation commenced in 2014, and FAO’s global positioning in resilience.

Stakeholders interviewed said the programme has been dynamic, flexible and supportive of FAO country offices and made conversation between FAO headquarters and country offices more demand-oriented. A number of country offices have as a result improved the quality of their resilience programming by supporting their respective governments to develop country resilience strategies.

The programme has helped broaden collaboration with country level ministries and departments beyond the ‘traditional’ FAO governmental counterparts, resulting in better coordination of resilience programmes at country level.

According to the report, SP5 has made positive contribution to increasing the adoption of early warning systems in FAO and by partners. It has contributed to the institutionalization, in FAO and at country level, of early warning and information systems such as the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) and the Resilience Index Measurement and Analysis Model (RIMA). It created new opportunities to implement these systems at national level where there is strong evidence of demand and is working with national authorities to establish early warning systems and develop indicators and evidence-based triggers for prompt action. Progress is also evident in FAO’s engagement in government-led risk reduction work.

The evaluation found that FAO has successfully engaged in partnerships on resilience at the global level and with regional and sub-regional institutions. A number of agreements, joint strategies and collaborative documents have been developed since the adoption of SO5. An example of a sub-regional partnership is the Commissions for Controlling Desert Locusts, which stakeholders say is a good model for sustainable regional crises prevention systems.

In Africa, the programme has established key and long-standing partnerships with sub-regional bodies working on resilience measurement and monitoring and other related aspects of food security. Fruitful partnerships to support work on preparedness have been established with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Comité Permanent Inter-Etats de lutte contre la Sécheresse dans le Sahel (CILSS) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

In Latin America and the Caribbean, FAO has been engaging in political dialogues on disaster risk reduction, agriculture and natural resources management through regional parliamentarian organizations, mainly Parlatino, Parlacen and Mercosur.

Joint programmes and initiatives have been signed with other United Nations organizations, globally and in a large number of countries, but actual collaboration in the field remains a challenge as agencies frequently implement their component of a joint programme separately.

The evaluation notes that as the frequency of natural disasters is increasing and a number of protracted crises persist for decades, crises must be confronted as a permanent feature of the development landscape. It concludes however that FAO is yet to make its impact fully felt in the “resilience space”: the Organization has not capitalized upon the current global interest in resilience, and its long experience in responding to crisis, to promote best practices systematically across its network of regional and country offices.

It notes also the need for a stronger integration of FAO’s early warning tools through exchanges of data sets, integration of GIS data, and the sharing of data collection tools with both internal and external partners.

It recommends that FAO should further strengthen its technical and operational capacities to meet country offices’ demands and needs and strengthen key SP5 areas such as programming capacity, high-quality “signature services”, knowledge systems, resource mobilization, and regional and national teams.

The evaluation further recommends that FAO expand its current alliances with nongovernmental organisations as a source of expertise and capacity, deploy training modules on resilience programming and measurement, and accelerate the development of knowledge sharing networks to strengthen knowledge on resilience programming within FAO and globally.