Brussels, 3 October 2012
EU puts resilience at the heart of its work on fighting hunger and poverty
Today Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, and Commissioner for Humanitarian aid, International Cooperation and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva, proposed a new policy to help vulnerable communities across the world build resilience to future crises.
The new Communication, "The EU Approach to Resilience: Learning from Food Security Crises" draws lessons from the experience of responding to recent food crises and outlines the measures with which the European Union will help vulnerable populations reduce the impact of future crises and disasters.
Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said: “Unexpected natural catastrophes, food crisis or economic shocks can seriously undermine the results of our work in developing countries." He added: "We need to focus our actions towards tackling the root causes of recurrent crises rather than just dealing with their consequences. This is not only more efficient but also much cheaper. In times of economic hardship, more than ever, we must make sure every euro is spent in the most efficient way; both for the people we support on the ground and for EU taxpayers."
Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva said: "Since taking on the EU Crisis Response role, I've seen every possible disaster – short of an asteroid hitting the Earth – and how, when the effects are intensified by climate change, demographic growth and urbanisation, are hitting more people than ever.
"If we want our assistance to be effective and cost-efficient, we must not just put a bandage on the wound – we must help find a cure. This requires a shared vision from the humanitarian and the development communities and a joint commitment to act. We are pledging this commitment on Europe's behalf today".
Strengthening resilience is at the core of successful humanitarian and development policies. This new Communication from the European Commission outlines a wide range of activities for building resilience, from improving access to food through supporting partner countries to ensuring that governments are alerted quickly at the outbreak of crises.
Other elements include guidelines on how to ensure that markets remain accessible to the poorest households and that natural resources such as water are protected.
Close cooperation between humanitarian and development workers is another essential element of building resilience. This is why the Commission undertakes to link its emergency and development programmes, and mix short-term and medium-to-long term responses. Addressing emergencies while investing in resilience calls for a coordinated assistance effort – together with national authorities and regional organisations – to reduce vulnerability of the poorest households to shocks and to tackle the underlying causes of food and nutrition insecurity.
Resilience is the ability of an individual, a household, a community, a country or a region to withstand, to adapt, and to quickly recover from stresses and shocks.
The concept of resilience has two dimensions: the inherent strength of an entity – an individual, a household, a community or a larger structure – to better resist stress and shock, and the capacity of this entity to bounce back rapidly from the impact.
Working with vulnerable populations to build their resilience is a fundamental part of poverty reduction, which is the ultimate aim of EU development policy as has been reaffirmed in the recent Agenda for Change. This document, in fact, re-prioritises EU delivery of aid by concentrating it on sectors which are key for long-term and inclusive growth and targeting countries that are in the greatest need of external support and where aid can make a difference.
As a result of the SHARE (Horn of Africa) and AGIR (Sahel) programmes the EU has invested €3 million euros in HarvestPlus, which develops more nutritious and resilient seeds for poor farmers in Africa. Work on resilience also enabled the development of early-warning systems in Nepal during the 2010 floods which allowed evacuation of people living in the danger zones.
For more information
Communication "The EU Approach to Resilience: Learning from Food Security Crises":
Joint videomessage of Commissioners Andris Piebalgs and Kristalina Georgieva (available at 14.30):
Website of EuropeAid, the European Commission's Development and Cooperation DG:
Website of the European Commission's humanitarian aid and civil protection:
Website of the European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs:
Website of the European Commissioner for Humanitarian aid, International Cooperation and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva:
Website of SHARE (Horn of Africa):
Website of AGIR (Sahel):
Catherine Ray (+32 2 296 99 21)
Wojtek Talko (+32 2 297 85 51)
Irina Novakova (+32 2 295 75 17)
David Sharrock (+32 2 296 89 09)