Evidence on reducing disaster risk and adapting to climate change
The research report “Livelihoods at the limit: reducing the risk of disasters and adapting to climate change”, a collaboration between Save the Children and the Food Economy Group, has drawn evidence from the Household Economy Analysis database (www.heawebsite.org) to respond to four questions relevant to disaster risk reduction:
- Which single shock has the most damaging impact on households’ ability to meet their minimum food and livelihood requirements?
- Does diversification always help reduce the risk of disaster?
- Will increasing poor households’ agricultural production increase their resilience in the face of climate change?
- What hazards are pastoralists most vulnerable to and what does resilience mean for a pastoralist economy?
The report presents evidence from a consolidated set of household economy data from 26 countries, including Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda. It seeks to help shed light on the risk of livelihood crises within the context of a shifting and dynamic set of natural and man-made hazards. It raises questions about the efficacy of pursuing a strategy based on diversifying livelihoods as a means of increasing vulnerable households’ resilience and reducing the risks they face. Increasing levels of income, as well as finding truly independent income sources within a diversifying rural economy, appear to be critical for reducing risk and building resilience.
Given that development investments intended to increase resilience can sometimes have the opposite effect, it is essential for resilience programmes to make a good ‘pre-flight’ analysis before intervening. Existing information about pastoralist livelihoods needs to be taken into account when devising resilience programmes and policies for pastoralist areas. Of particular relevance are: the critical nature of livestock and market hazards; the requirement for long herd-recovery periods after droughts; shared vulnerability among all wealth groups and the redistributive effects of pastoralist economies.
This is the first report in the “Livelihoods at the Limit” series, which offers critical insights into key questions about what resilience means and how to achieve it in different livelihood contexts. The report provides a unique evidence-based perspective in the face of growing interest to support households, communities and nations to be resilient to disasters.