Source: © 2010 Andrew McConnell/Panos

Annual Report 2010

Building Resilience to Emergencies

Post-emergency reconstruction—particularly after natural disasters, war, or other conflict—is critical to the food security of people in developing countries. To ensure reconstruction’s effectiveness, these efforts to rebuild must have a foundation in policies, investments, and interventions already in place. In 2010, IFPRI participated in numerous projects to assess and inform recovery efforts. After Pakistan suffered devastating losses from flooding—more than 20 million people were displaced from their homes and damage reached approximately US$6.5 billion—IFPRI researchers began evaluating previous natural-disaster recovery efforts, both in Pakistan itself and in South Asia overall, in order to suggest relevant courses of action. Lessons learned included the need to (1) make market and trade policies transparent; (2) ensure a strong institutional framework to coordinate large-scale disaster response; (3) support livelihood security and restoration in disaster recovery efforts; (4) enhance infrastructure to reduce future disaster losses; and (5) resume normal agricultural activities as soon as possible.

A similar post-disaster assessment project—this one to evaluate recovery efforts after the massive 2008 earthquake in the Sichuan Province of China—began in 2010. That earthquake, which killed at least 69,000 people and left between 4.8 and 11 million people homeless, damaged primarily rural areas: the poorest villages were the hardest hit. The Chinese government is using an innovative recovery method: “pairing” each affected county with an economically strong county in another region. IFPRI researchers are conducting a qualitative and quantitative study and collecting narratives about the experience from the people involved. Gaining a clearer understanding of China’s recovery efforts will have great value in helping other less fortunate regions, such as Haiti and Pakistan.

Finally, an IFPRI study in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which has seen more than 15 years of intermittent violent conflicts, continues to look at reconstruction’s major challenges and their effects on poverty reduction and agricultural productivity. IFPRI researchers focused on one of the most important development constraints in the DRC: the poor state of transport infrastructure. Using both geographic data and disaggregated crop-specific production data (generated by IFPRI’s Spatial Allocation Model), coupled with information from the 2007 Demographic and Health Survey, researchers simulated the change that would result from an extension of transport networks. The findings strongly suggest that increasing investment in ports should be a priority in the infrastructure investment portfolio.

Other focal areas under the Risks and Emergencies theme include: