It’s a familiar sight from developing nations on our TV screens. Stranded families survey submerged crops and livestock in dismay, as swollen rivers claim their livelihoods. Once hit by such a devastating event, smallholder farmers have little option but to use their savings – or more likely, to seek credit – to shore up their homes and buy new seed for the coming season. With few prospects for any kind of income in the short term, their lives become increasingly precarious, reducing their ability to recover from future shocks.
Most models predict an increase in the frequency of extreme weather events as climate change takes hold, so efforts are needed to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable agricultural communities. The United Nations Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction 2015 (GAR15) emphasized the role of risk-sensitive agriculture in strengthening livelihoods and food security. And Goal 11 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals has the objective of “making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.” But how best can we do this?