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Building up resilience in developing countries


Commission Communication COM(2012) 586 final: The EU Approach to Resilience: Learning from food security crises



It seeks to use the lessons from this region to improve the effectiveness of the EU's contribution to reducing vulnerability in disaster-prone and fragile countries, by including the concept of resilience* as a central goal.


  • Reducing humanitarian needs, alleviating poverty and addressing fragility require systematic efforts to build the resilience of vulnerable populations.
  • It requires multifaceted and long term strategies aimed at alleviating the underlying causes of crises and strengthening capacities to better manage uncertainty and change.
  • Improved services, opportunity and protection from shocks and stresses will improve the livelihoods of the most vulnerable. When crises arise, risk management will lead to an earlier, more effective response to address immediate needs, limit losses and hasten recovery.
  • Resilience considerations – risk management and vulnerability reduction – should be appropriately integrated into all development and recovery strategies.

EU response to food crises in Africa

Following the food crises in Africa, a humanitarian-development response was put in place by the EU. In addition to life-saving activities, this assistance also contributed to the recovery process, for instance through the provision of seeds and tools, and improved water management.

Longer-term resilience strategies are helping the affected countries and communities to recover and build up their ability to cope with future crises.

The SHARE* and AGIR* resilience initiatives represent an improvement in the way humanitarian and development assistance interact. Short-term assistance is enhanced when the link between relief, rehabilitation and development (LRRD) is recognised. The EU can commit to addressing the root causes of food insecurity in the longer term by restoring livelihoods, strengthening social protection and disaster management systems, and improving nutrition.

These measures focus on food security - and food crises - in sub-Saharan Africa. However, this approach is applicable to other regions and other types of vulnerability such as regions threatened by:

  • floods
  • cyclones
  • earthquakes
  • droughts
  • storm surges and tsunamis
  • climate change
  • food price increases.

It concentrates on 3 key components:

  • 1.

    Anticipating crises by assessing risks

  • 2.

    Focusing on prevention and preparedness

  • 3.

    Enhancing crisis response.

The Communication puts forward a 10-point plan to increase resilience, including promoting dialogue on resilience with non-EU countries through available channels such as the United Nations, and the G8 and G20 forums of rich and emerging nations. The plan was consolidated and expanded in the Action Plan for Resilience in Crisis Prone Countries 2013–2020 which calls upon the EU and EU countries to:

  • support AGIR, SHARE and other resilience initiatives in different contexts and regions,
  • include disaster risk management on the resilience agenda,
  • promote integrated approaches to climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction and resilience,
  • integrate resilience in the food and nutrition security agenda,
  • strengthen assistance mechanisms for vulnerable population groups, supporting the development of national approaches to social protection.
  • expand support for risk financing solutions at a national and local level, including insurance and catastrophe bonds,
  • support the development of a local private sector, growth opportunities and long-lasting solutions for resilience strengthening of vulnerable populations,
  • support local initiatives by local organisations,
  • develop urban resilience methodologies, testing and evaluation,
  • develop resilience approaches to chronic refugee challenges,
  • support resilience and capacity development at local level in the EU aid volunteers' initiative (under discussion),
  • enhance the resilience knowledge and evidence base,
  • develop common approaches to advocacy,
  • provide operational resilience guidance for the European Commission and other partners,
  • use improved methodologies and tools for risk assessments, risk management and measuring resilience, and
  • apply and develop flexible financial instruments and contingencies.


Recurrent food and nutrition crises in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa affect millions of people, result in widespread hunger, and contribute to keeping people in a perpetual state of poverty. This situation underscores the need for a long-term and systematic approach to building the resilience of vulnerable countries and populations.


*Resilience: the ability of an individual, household, community, country or region to withstand, adapt, and quickly recover from stresses and shocks

*SHARE: Supporting the Horn of Africa’s Resilience

*AGIR: Global Alliance for Resilience


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council - The EU Approach to Resilience: Learning from food security crises (COM(2012) 586 final of 3.10.2012)


Council conclusions on EU approach to resilience, Brussels, 28 May 2013

Commission Staff Working Document: Action Plan for Resilience in Crisis Prone Countries 2013–2020 (SWD(2013) 227 final of 19.6.2013)

last update 25.11.2015