Shocks, stresses and resilience

Promoting more effective understanding of shocks, stresses and resilience in agriculture and rural livelihoods

Haitians in Cité Soleil Queue for Food - UN Photo/Sophia Paris

Work under this theme promotes greater understanding of the magnitude, relative importance and impacts of shocks and stresses in agriculture on the livelihoods of poor and vulnerable people. This involves working with policy makers to find effective ways of mitigating shocks and stresses, and improving the resilience of livelihoods in agriculture.
Such shocks and stresses are:

  • Economic, as  input and output prices become increasingly unpredictable;
  • Physical, as weather patterns exhibit increased variability as a result of climate change; and
  • Social/demographic, as the world’s population grows towards nine billion, countries’ age demographics shift and the rural/urban population ratio reverses.

Such changes raise key questions that this programme aims to address through its work:

  • How is changing demand — for example, biofuels, urban diets, dynamic middle-income economies — affecting agriculture, and what are the impacts of these shifts on food prices?
  • What impact do rising powers, such as Brazil and China, have on agriculture as donors, investors and role models?
  • What impact will new technology have on farming systems?
  • How can farming adapt to a more variable climate?
  • What can be done to prevent and reduce food crises and emergencies that arise in some of the poorer and more vulnerable parts of Africa?

A major focus of our work is DFID-funded analysis of the dynamics of food prices, highlighting the drivers, impacts and possible policy responses to high and volatile food prices.