Evaluation of FAO’s contribution to building resilience to El Niño-induced drought in Southern Africa

During the 2015–2016 agricultural season, Southern Africa experienced intense drought due to one of the strongest El Niño events in 50 years. With 70 percent of the population reliant on agriculture, El Niño had a direct impact on food security and caused loss of income across crop and livestock value chains. FAO activated a corporate surge support and launched its Southern Africa El Niño Response Plan, appealing for USD 109 million to support government efforts to rebuild and fortify agricultural livelihoods, restoring agricultural production, incomes and assets and increasing household access to nutritious food. FAO country teams translated the regional plan into tailored intervention packages on the ground. But while agro-meteorological and early-warning alerts were timely, they did not trigger early action. The evaluation calls on FAO to initiate a systematic approach to adaptive programming, to conduct an in-depth analysis of the factors that slowed delivery in Southern Africa, to expand on the targeting of different groups, so as to meet the needs of farmers with varying degrees of vulnerability, and to bolster learning, information-sharing and advocacy efforts across countries.