Emergency Food Security & Livelihoods

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Save the Children’s Emergency Food Security and Livelihoods team helps families meet their basic needs and protect their livelihoods before, during, and after a crisis. This approach fits into a larger theory of change that creates lasting, positive change for children – by helping families create an economically stable and food secure home, children will thrive.

In an emergency, food security and livelihood programs are critical in saving people’s lives and livelihoods. Immediately following a crisis, Save the Children provides vulnerable families resources to meet their immediate needs, including food, fuel, staple items, and items needed to restart livelihoods. We achieve this through cash and voucher programs that enable families to purchase the items they need and prefer from local markets and where markets are not functioning, through direct distribution of food and other needed items.

Droughts, economic crises, conflicts, floods and other kinds of shocks often prevent vulnerable families from having enough food and earning enough income to meet their basic needs and to continue minimal investments in their livelihoods. Without emergency food and livelihoods assistance during a crisis, families are forced to make short-term decisions to survive, such as withdrawing children from school to enter the labor force and selling assets that have long-term negative consequences.

Emergency food security and livelihoods activities are tailored to local conditions; through assessments and analyses, Save the Children designs interventions that take into account immediate needs of families, seasons, livelihoods, risks, and markets to design strategic responses that minimize the likelihood of food insecurity and further disruption of livelihoods. We focus on interventions that help to ensure families have access to income and savings throughout the year – through the lean season and in times of crisis – so that they are able to meet their essential needs at all times.

Cash & Voucher Transfers

In emergencies, Save the Children provides families with the means to meet their basic needs, including food, fuel and other staple items. By directly distributing cash and vouchers, families are able to purchase the items they need and prefer from nearby markets. This approach not only saves lives and protects their livelihoods, it also provides additional support to local business owners and the local economy.

Direct Distribution

If local markets are not functioning after an emergency, Save the Children will directly distribute a nutritionally balanced basket of food, necessary non-food items, and livelihood support to vulnerable families. This approach is normally used when there is a concern that a cash injection into the economy will lead to inflation or market distortion.

Temporary Employment

When emergencies damage infrastructure or suppress normal labor markets, Save the Children works with communities to design temporary employment opportunities through cash-for-work or food-for-work projects that result in strengthening community assets. Temporary employment projects have multiple benefits, first by providing financial resources necessary for vulnerable families to meet their basic needs, and secondly, by establishing public works projects that benefit the community. In many cases, these projects are able to mitigate the impact of future hazards, such as reinforcing retaining walls or improving drainage in flood prone areas.

Small Business & Grants Training

For many small business operators, insurance that protects them from disasters is just a dream. As a result, emergencies can wipe out their inventory or disrupt their customer base. Save the Children provides short-term grants and training to help businesses rebuild their inventory and capital as well as strengthen necessary skills to improve productivity and resilience.

Livelihoods Assistance & Asset Replacement

Save the Children takes every opportunity to assist families who survived an emergency rebuild and strengthen their livelihoods, building resiliency to future shocks. These programs provide key livelihood resources, such as seeds or animal feed, at critical times of the year or, after a large disaster, replace productive assets such as farm tools, sewing machines or livestock. By supporting livelihoods, Save the Children is able to assist families in getting back to their businesses as quickly as possible so that they can provide for their children.

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