Ecological principles for effective interventions: enhancing agricultural sustainability and food security from relief to development.
March, Julie*,1, 2, Powers, Laura1, 3, 1 US Agency for International Development,Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, Washington, DC2 University of Wisconsin, Madison, Madison, WI3 University of Arizona, Tucson, Tucson, AZ
ABSTRACT- International relief programs in the agriculture and food security sectors aim to respond to the emergency at hand while paving the way for future development programming and interventions. When the concepts of sustainability and ecological soundness are not an inherent part of the initial response to crises in the sector (e.g., drought, crop disease, conflict) the transition from relief or emergency response towards development and self sufficiency is laborious at best, impossible at worst. When ecological concepts are embedded in relief responses, the result is often heightened resiliency within the beneficiary community to future shocks and crises. An example of agricultural relief interventions which benefit from ecological concepts are those that seek to maintain or improve agricultural biodiversity by enabling planting of a crop suite, rather than a single crop item. Following the ecological premise that agricultural systems of greater diversity are often more stable, efficient, and offer a greater chance of some harvest in the midst of external stresses, the diversity of this scenario combats poverty and food insecurity more effectively than a single crop approach. Multiple options allow vulnerable farmers to lower the level of risk inherent in an agriculturally based livelihood. These risk mitigation measures enhance livelihoods and facilitate the transition toward greater food security and stability–both agricultural and economic. Ultimately, incorporating ecological principles such as biodiversity in emergency response facilitates the transition towards development and onwards to sustainability and alleviation of poverty and food insecurity.
Key words: food security, international development
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