What is resilience?
Although there are many definitions of “resilience” currently being used in development and humanitarian work, they all include three common elements:
- the capacity to bounce back after a shock;
- the capacity to adapt to a changing environment; and
- the capacity of an enabling institutional environment to strengthen resilience.
In the context of food security, resilience analysis looks at how households respond to, and recover from, human-induced and natural shocks.
Why is it important?
Resilience is what enables people to overcome the challenges that follow a shock, rather than rely on humanitarian aid after events such as a flood, drought, economic crisis or conflict.
There is enormous disparity in resilience across the globe. On average, 45 times more people die in any given disaster in developing countries than developed countries.
The importance of building resilience is growing as shocks become more acute and frequent. The number of weather-related disasters, for example, has nearly tripled since 1980 and food prices are more volatile than ever. Human suffering and aid requirements will continue to rise if we do not help vulnerable populations prepare for these challenges.
Building resilience is one of the most powerful measures to mitigate – or even prevent – devastation in the first place. This principle needs to be reflected in how the international community develops humanitarian and development responses.