The Impacts of Climate Change on Food Security and Livelihoods
Climate change can have a dramatic, negative effect on food security and livelihoods, leaving the world’s most poor at risk—particularly women and children. This makes the implementation of climate-smart and nutritionally-targeted agriculture practices increasingly important. Here are just two of the ways climate change is impacting food and livelihood security.
Poor dietary diversity and health
Human health relies on a diverse diet of macro- and micronutrients that come from a range of foods such as fruits and vegetables and animal-sourced foods like meat, eggs, milk, and fish. Climate change puts local food systems not only at risk of insufficient quantities of food, but can also lead to a reduction in nutritionally diverse crops—meaning people won’t have access to the variety of foods their bodies need to thrive. Additionally, crops that are destroyed by pests or food that is spoiled due to poor storage negatively impacts both food supply and nutritional quality.
When agricultural production fails, household food availability and income significantly decreases. Families and communities are often forced to cope by skipping meals and substituting nutritious foods with lower-cost, nutrient poor staples. Without meals rich in vitamins, minerals, and proteins malnutrition occurs, affecting the health of pregnant mothers and development of young children, which can result in permanent developmental delays.
Smallholder farmers and poor rural households in developing nations are most at risk to the shocks and stresses of climate change. Changes in climate and increased natural disasters put farmers at greater risk of crop failure, livestock loss, and property damage which can result in devastating losses. The potential loss of income and food production, along with the cost of rebuilding homes, makes meeting basic daily needs like food, health care, childcare, and education extremely challenging for vulnerable families.
If farmers fail to adjust to the changing climate, it can also impact the quantity, quality, and variety of foods available to local communities, their household’s ability to purchase them, and market supply at large.
Strengthening Communities Through Climate-Smart & Nutritionally-Targeted Agriculture
PCI strives to improve food security for the world’s most vulnerable individuals and communities. We recognize that the climate is changing and believe climate change adaptation in the agricultural sector goes hand-in-hand with reducing the risk of food and nutrition insecurity. In turn, we seamlessly weave climate-smart and nutritionally-targeted agriculture practices into projects that are designed to strengthen the resilience of rural farmers and help them cope with the threat of food insecurity, nutritional deficiencies, and reductions in income.
Some of the climate-smart and nutritionally-targeted agriculture practices and technologies PCI promotes include conservation agriculture, introduction of various climate-adapted crops, production of nutritionally dense vegetables and fruits, integrated pest management, improved crop storage systems, rainwater harvesting and small-scale irrigation structures, improved production of poultry, goats, and sheep and livestock grazing systems, support for local animal healthcare providers, and regeneration of damaged watersheds through productive agroforestry approaches.