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New tool to measure resilience

A Palestinian woman receives food aid from the World Food Programme in Gaza City.

A new analysis tool that measures how resilient a household is under severe stress will help humanitarian agencies design aid for beneficiaries based on the extent of their vulnerability.

The concept was developed by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the Florence University, in Italy, using data from the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).

"The Palestinians have been living under incredible stress for a long time; everyone is vulnerable there. Despite that, they continue to live and work in that situation – they are a particularly resilient community," said Luca Alinovi, a senior economist at FAO, explaining why they used the OPT to develop the tool.

The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics also provides "incredible amounts of data – the bureau conducts at least two to three surveys every year, unlike most countries," he added, which contributed to refining the analysis tool.

''The early warning systems approach tries to predict crises, while the resilience framework tries to assess the current state of health of a food system and hence its ability to withstand shocks should they occur''

Resilience in humanitarian terms is a "measure of the ability of a system to withstand stresses and shocks in an uncertain world" and has only recently started being applied as a concept in food security issues, according to a paper by Alinovi and his collaborators on the project.

"The idea is that this concept could complement the early warning systems (EWS) approach. The EWS tries to predict crises, while the resilience framework tries to assess the current state of health of a food system and hence its ability to withstand shocks should they occur," said the paper.

Data is collected according to the five pillars of the conceptual framework of the tool: existing social safety net, access to public services, assets, income and food access, households' capacity to adapt, and stability of food supply.

The data is then converted into numerical variables, which help present the level of resilience on a logarithmic scale.

"The level of resilience, as calculated, can help determine the kind of interventions needed in acute food shortages – cash or food aid - in that particular country," said Alinovi. "It also helps design long-term aid interventions."

The FAO plans to implement the tool in Kenya and perhaps Sudan in the coming months.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

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