3.3.1 Early Warning: Triggers and decision-making

Food and nutrition security is often characterised by slow onset. In theory, this could give time to prepare and respond early to mitigate the worst effects. In reality, the slow-onset nature of food security crises often results in a prolonged debate about just how serious the issue is or will become. Responses are delayed and often only triggered by deteriorating malnutrition levels. A delayed response limits opportunities to support people’s livelihoods and forces a response that focuses on meeting people’s immediate basic needs.

To improve the timeliness of decision-making, food security scenarios within EPPs should focus on determining triggers, pre-crisis mitigation activities and, where possible, building contingency funds into ongoing projects that enable an early livelihoods-based response (crisis modifiers). The coping strategies index (
Annex 23.11) offers a potential set of indicators that could be used as a trigger. Possible triggers are rainfall data, dates of migration of livestock and people and market prices.