Food Security, Nutrition and Livelihoods

Food Security, Nutrition and Livelihoods

Key environmental issues linked to food security, nutrition and livelihoods programming

Food Security, Nutrition and Livelihoods

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Food security in a humanitarian context involves ensuring an adequate supply of food and meeting nutritional needs and cultural expectations, before and after a crisis. Environment, food security and livelihoods are co-dependent. If land is degraded or prone to natural hazards less food is produced and significant food shortages can occur. Food secure communities, especially those reliant on the environment for their livelihoods, require healthy and productive ecosystems. Interventions that focus on short-term benefits and neglect consideration of the environment can jeopardize long-term food security and livelihood opportunities. This reduces societal resilience and undermines recovery opportunities. Implementing food security programs sensitive to environmental and climatic conditions supports sustainability, whilst ensuring current and future food security and access to water and energy. This is particularly important considering increasing external pressures from climate change and natural hazards.

The Sphere Standards (2018) make the link between environment and food security, livelihoods and nutrition. They state that food assistance should be delivered in a way that protects, preserves and restores the natural environment from further degradation, and highlights the impacts of cooking fuel on the environment and the importance of livelihoods strategies that do not contribute to deforestation or soil erosion (Sphere Standards: Food security standard 5.1, Key Action 4). The Sphere Standards also state that environmentally sensitive options for income generation should be chosen for livelihoods interventions whenever possible (Livelihoods standard 7.2: Income and employment, Key Action 6).

Humanitarian activities can cause negative environmental impacts connected to food. These include:

Achieving food security can lead to a variety of environmental challenges such as waste creation. Availability of water which can change quickly after disasters or conflict can create sanitation problems leading to increased health concerns and higher rates of infectious and diarrheal diseases. This, combined with a disruption to a stable food supply has a flow-on effect to people’s livelihoods and can lead to malnutrition.

Climate change can exacerbate drivers of food insecurity and hunger. Climate change also disproportionately affects the poorest, who are often the most food insecure, through unpredictable rainfall patterns, or large losses during extreme storms, which can lead to decreasing crop productivity. Such shocks may result in food insecurity during conflict, natural disaster, sudden onset or protracted crisis. Higher prices of food following crises affects a household’s access to food and fulfilling dietary requirements.

The environmental implications of using cash in food security and livelihoods programming are mixed. Some potential advantages include the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions involved in the transport and storage of food; support to smallholder farmers and; reduction of packaging. Disadvantages of cash to local farmers include the potential support of unsustainable practices (pesticides, local water resources).

The NEAT+ [link to download the tool and guidance] screening tool food security module can be used as a checklist of the major issues of concern to factor in while planning a food security project.  Some of the main environmental impacts to consider in different components of programming are:

Direct food assistance:

Agriculture

Livestock:

Fisheries and aquaculture:

Irrigation and water management:

Livelihoods:

In IDP and Refugee camps

Opportunities to minimize and address these environmental impacts related to food

Food production/procurement:

Food processing:

Food packaging, transport and storage (logistics):

Food use:

Resources

Key Resource

Bidibidi Refugee Settlement: Environmental Scoping Report and Recommendations

Summary

The report presents the results of a September 2019 environmental scoping mission by the UN Environment Programme / OCHA Joint Environment Unit (JEU) and Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). The Bidibidi Refugee Settlement is located in the West Nile Area of Uganda, and is home to over 270,000 South Sudanese refugees — the second largest refugee settlement in the world.

 

The purpose of the mission was to highlight key areas of environmental risk in the NRC West Nile Programme while using, testing and promoting the Nexus Environmental Assessment Tool (NEAT+). The mission was financially supported by NRC, UNEP and OCHA.

Environmental Scoping in Uganda

The scoping took place in Bidibidi Settlement Zones 3 and 5, locations of a future NRC and partner funded European Union Trust Fund (EUTF) programme with a strong emphasis on agriculture and food security.

These zones were chosen in order to test the differences in environmental sensitivity between the newest established Zone 5 and the older Zone 3. Bidibidi Refugee Settlement was opened in August 2016 to accommodate a high influx of South Sudanese refugees.

To support the needs of the South Sudanese refugees, who primarily come from the Equatoria region, and the host communities of Bidibidi refugee settlement, there are over 30 civil society and government organizations working within Bidibidi.

Current environmental dialogue about Bidibidi is often focused on minimizing land degradation and deforestation, due to host and refugee community dependence on biomass for fuel. This concern is well documented by both government and and civil society organizations, with several mitigation strategies already underway.

The scoping mission additionally identified environmental concerns that seem under-defined by current programmes of work in Bidibidi. Of particular concern is the lack of waste management, leading to increased risks to human health, and lack of awareness about environmentally sustainable behaviours.

Further reading/Download

The findings of this report are based on a combination of a field test of the NEAT+, eight focus group discussions including participatory mapping with refugee and host community groups, and a secondary data review.

Download the full report here.

 

To learn more about NEAT+ please visit https://ehaconnect.org/resources/neat

To find out how it can support your organization’s planning, contact the UN Environment/Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Joint Unit (ochaunep@un.org).

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Key Resource

USAID Sector Environmental Guidelines: Pest Management I: Integrated Pest Management

The document provides guidance on integrated pest management, an approach which encourages natural and cultural control of pest populations by anticipating and managing pest problems, while permitting safer pesticide uses where justified and permitted.

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Key Resource

USAID Sector Environmental Guidelines: Pest Management II: Safer Pesticide Use

The document provides guidance on maximizing the safety of pesticide use when such use is unavoidable. Before analyzing the risks and benefits of pesticide use all reasonable Integrated Pest Management alternatives must be analyzed.

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Key Resource

FAO Technical Guidelines for the implementation of the International Code of Conduct on Pesticide management

The guidance advises on the implementation of specific aspects of the Code of Conduct concerning pesticides. Specific guidelines on pesticide use, application, prevention and disposal are available.

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Key Resource

The Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment in Disasters (REA) tool

The Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment in Disaster (REA) is a tool to identify, define, and prioritize potential environmental impacts in disaster situations.

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Key Resource

The Sphere Handbook

The Handbook is one of the most widely known and internationally recognized tools for the delivery of the quality humanitarian response

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Key Resource

Looking Through an Environmental Lens: Implications and opportunities associated with Cash Transfer Programming in humanitarian response

In this report, the authors explore the relationship between Cash Transfer Programming and the environment in humanitarian action in light of the rise in cash-based assistance and the changing landscape of humanitarian modalities. Looking through an environmental lens, the expansion of cash-based response introduces both new opportunities and additional complexity in the interaction between humanitarianism and the environment.

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Key Resource

Sphere Handbook Food Security Standards

The Sphere Minimum Standards for food security and nutrition are a practical expression of the right to adequate food in humanitarian contexts. The standards are grounded in the beliefs, principles, duties and rights declared in the Humanitarian Charter. These include the right to life with dignity, the right to protection and security, and the right to receive humanitarian assistance on the basis of need.

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Key Resource

Global Food Security Cluster website

The Food Security Cluster (FSC) is about enhancing cooperation and partnerships. The FSC works directly with its partners and stakeholders that include NGOs, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, UN organizations, Governments and Donors. The FSC was formally endorsed by the Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC) on the 15 December 2010.

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Key Resource

Aligning Budgets for Implementing Environmental Compliance Safeguards in USAID Development Food Assistance Programs

The toolkit provides advice on developing and refining budgets to ensure that environmental compliance requirements are identified early in project design and incorporated throughout the project cycle. The toolkit guides users in identifying resources required, integrating environmental planning with project budgets, and ensuring transparency of budgets.

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Key Resource

Green Recovery & Reconstruction Toolkit: Training Toolkit for Humanitarian Aid (GRRT)

The GRRT is a toolkit and training program designed to increase awareness and knowledge of environmentally responsible disaster response approaches.

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Additional Resource

Colombia – NEAT+ Environmental Scoping Report and Recommendations, November 2019

Environmental Situation Analysis, Preparedness

This report presents the results of an environmental scoping mission using the Nexus Environmental Assessment Tool (NEAT+) by the UNEP / OCHA Joint Environment Unit (JEU) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to the Integrated Assistance Centre (Centro de Atención Integral, or CAI) in Maicao, northeastern Colombia.

Download the NEAT+ Colombia Environmental Scoping Report here

The purpose of the mission was to highlight key areas of environmental risk in UNHCR’s programming in the CAI and neighbouring Chichituy host community while applying and promoting the Nexus Environmental Assessment Tool (NEAT+).  The mission took place from 4 to 13 November 2019 and was financially supported by UNHCR, UNEP and OCHA.

Key findings and recommendations cover programmatic, strategic and external advocacy relevant recommendations. These encompass the need to increase and prioritize environmental education (waste management and lack of social cohesion), switching to green energy solutions, reducing disaster risk from flooding and soil erosion (through drainage systems as well as nature-based solutions), and enhancing the current community engagement and accountability mechanisms in place to promote social cohesion.

Environmental Scoping in Colombia

Over the past years, the population of Maicao has increased from 160,000 to approximately 220,000, and about 27 per cent of the city’s population is now Venezuelan. The purpose of the mission was to highlight key areas of environmental risk in UNHCR’s programming and to apply and promote the Nexus Environmental Assessment Tool (NEAT+).

The NEAT+ field test took place in UNHCR Reception Centre “CAI” near the city of Maicao, La Guajira Department, and neighbouring communities.  Separate environmental sensitivity assessments were completed by a group of UNHCR and partner technical staff in the CAI, including a government representative. WASH and Shelter UNHCR technical experts completed the activity modules, finding that most submodules were relevant to the activities of the CAI. The food security and livelihoods (FSL) module was filled in by Acción Contra el Hambre (ACH) as the lead partner for FSL with the host community. This was the first time that the NEAT+ was used in a reception camp setting and on such a small scale, and the results proved accurate.

The findings and recommendations of this report are based on a combination of a field test of the NEAT+, four focus group discussions (FGDs) including participatory mapping with CAI residents, host community and technical staff groups; and a secondary data review. Tailored recommendations are provided with both for mitigating environmental risks at the CAI, and more broadly on a national and global level for promotion and expansion of the NEAT+.

Download

Download the full report here.

To learn more about NEAT+ please visit https://www.eecentre.org/resources/neat/

To find out how it can support your organization’s planning, contact the UNEP/OCHA Joint Environment Unit (ochaunep@un.org).

Additional Resource

Evaluating Climate Vulnerability in Humanitarian Hotspots

This study, conducted in 2019, focuses on the definition of climate vulnerability with operational and political perspectives and delivers guidelines for assessing climate vulnerability in long-term crises, such as in conflict-affected countries and recurrent disaster-prone areas.

The research draws on an extensive academic literature review in the fields of biology, political science, sociology and geography. It derives data from a variety of innovative projects and methods in the field of development and humanitarian aid, induced and encouraged by the Grand Bargain. In addition, the research offers a contribution to the IKI Project carried out by the UNEP/OCHA Joint Environment Unit in the refugee camp of Gitega Province in Burundi.

The study is available in French only.

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Additional Resource

WHO UNFCCC – Climate and Health Country Profile Project

The WHO UNFCCC Climate and Health Country Profile Project provides country-specific estimates of current and future climate hazards. It also identifies the  effects of climate change on human health and identifies mitigation and policy change actions. The data is collected via biennial surveys and was completed in 2017. The next series will be released in 2019 and will cover approximately 80 countries.

 

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Additional Resource

Haiti Environment and Humanitarian Action Country Study

The Environment and Humanitarian Action (EHA) – Haiti country study is one in a series of country-level studies that assess the extent to which environmental concerns have been mainstreamed in humanitarian action. In April 2015, the Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit, supported by Groupe URD, undertook a mission to Haiti to look at environmental mainstreaming in the humanitarian response to floods, tropical storms, hurricanes and mainly on the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake.

 

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Nepal Environment and Humanitarian Action Country Study

The Nepal Environment and Humanitarian Action (EHA) country-level study is one in a series of studies undertaken by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) / UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Joint Environment Unit (JEU) in 2015 that assesses the extent to which environmental concerns have been mainstreamed in humanitarian action. It provides guidance to humanitarian actors on how to improve environmental mainstreaming in a rapid onset emergency.

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Additional Resource

Research Article – Impacts of Forests on Children’s Diet in Rural Areas Across 27 Developing Countries

A research study looking at the impacts of forests on diet. The results indicates that forests could help reduce vitamin A and iron deficiencies and the study establishes the causal relationship between forests and diet, thus strengthening the incentives for integrating forest conservation and management
into nutrition interventions.

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Additional Resource

FAO – The guidance note Meeting Fuel and Energy Needs in Protracted Crises

The FAO guidance note presents the experiences and lessons learned which aims to support humanitarian actors in the field addressing energy access as part of food and nutrition security interventions in situations of protracted crisis.

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Additional Resource

USAID Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) for Phosphone Fumigation of Stored Agricultural Commodity

The Fumigation PEA establishes a clear approach to manage health and environmental risks for actors that plan to undertake phosphine fumigation in a warehouse setting.

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Additional Resource

Community-based Risk Screening Tool – Adaptation and Livelihoods (CRiSTAL)

CRiSTAL is a project-planning tool that helps users design activities that support climate adaptation at the community level.

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Additional Resource

FAO Technical Guidelines for the implementation of the International Code of Conduct on Pesticide management

The guidance advises on the implementation of specific aspects of the Code of Conduct concerning pesticides. Specific guidelines on pesticide use, application, prevention and disposal are available.

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Additional Resource

UNEP: Key Things to Know About Environment as “Cross Cutting” Issue in Early Recovery

This brief UN Environment note provides an overview of key environmental considerations for early recovery actors, including a short cluster-specific checklist.

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Additional Resource

UNEP/UNISDR: Reducing Risk Through Environment in Recovery Operations

This UNEP/UNISDR paper provides an introductory review of the recovery operations in terms of integrating environment and long-term disaster risk reduction.

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Additional Resource

A Note on Environmental Mainstreaming

Environmental mainstreaming is a process by which environmental considerations become part of the existing core work of a predominantly non-environmental sector. This short explanation outlines the mechanisms of environmental mainstreaming and how it typically occurs.

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Additional Resource

GRRT Green Guide to Livelihoods

The GRRT is a toolkit and training program designed to increase awareness and knowledge of environmentally responsible disaster response approaches. This module explores the links between livelihoods, disaster vulnerability, and ecosystems and targets environmental issues related to the implementation of post-disaster livelihoods recovery projects in several sectors including agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries, and tourism, among others.

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Additional Resource

USAID Sector Environmental Guidelines: Wild caught Fisheries and Aquaculture

USAID investments in wild-caught fisheries and aquaculture are made in the context of international, national, and agency guidelines, agreements, and policies. These policies represent the governance framework within which USAID projects in the fisheries and aquaculture sector are designed, implemented, and evaluated for responsible environmental stewardship. Key recent policies are referenced in this document.

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Additional Resource

USAID Sector Environmental Guidelines: Agriculture

This guide examines natural resources management (NRM) activities that can play a role in fortifying farming systems’ sustainability. Soil and water conservation—or on a larger scale, watershed management—can build local farming systems’ resilience to climatic variability and change and extreme events and add incrementally to their agricultural productivity through sophisticated use of soil, water, and vegetation.

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Additional Resource

Checklist for integrating energy in the Humanitarian Programme Cycle

Builds on experiences with the implementation of Safe Access to Fuel and Energy (SAFE) and SAFE-related projects to guide the Cluster Coordination team and partners on how to integrate energy in all phases of the Humanitarian Programme Cycle. Steps are outlined for each of the HPC.

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Additional Resource

FAO: Food Security and the Environment

Key facts on the links between food security and the environment by FAO.

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Additional Resource

Food Security & Livelihoods (FSL) tip sheet

This tip sheet aims to give specific guidance to the Food Security & Livelihoods Sector in Sudan regarding how to better integrate environment in their humanitarian activities.

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Additional Resource

USAID Sector Environmental Guidelines: Livestock

This guideline will help identify potential adverse environmental impacts of use of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry, and other livestock and suggest mitigation and monitoring options, as well as “best management practices,” to address them.

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Additional Resource

Evidence on Demand, Mainstreaming Environment and Climate Change into Humanitarian Action

This study, published by Evidence on Demand provides an overview of the key reasons that environmental and climate change issues are relevant in the context of humanitarian action.

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