Ethiopia is particularly vulnerable to droughts and floods, and may become increasingly so in light of climate change. In 2004, recognizing the need to address the impact of climate risks on food security, the Government of Ethiopia established the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP), as part of its comprehensive National Food Security Programme.
The PSNP is a national social protection system which provides predictable, multi-year assistance to millions of chronically food-insecure rural households, to help them transition away from depending on chronic emergency food assistance. Through the PSNP, households participate in community disaster risk reduction and asset-building works in exchange for food and/ or cash transfers.
The Livelihoods, Early Assessment and Protection project (LEAP) system, developed in 2008 by the Government of Ethiopia in collaboration with WFP, paved the way for integrating the PSNP into the national disaster risk management framework. LEAP is an innovative early warning – early action tool which aims to prompt the timely scale-up of the PSNP in anticipation of severe droughts or floods. Its overarching aim is to ensure early and well-targeted response, to protect livelihoods and save lives.
LEAP's ultimate objective is to link early warning, contingent planning and capacity building to a contingent fund managed by the World Bank. This integrated system would allow funding to be triggered in a timely manner in case of shock, to assist the additional people at risk of food insecurity, as well as existing PSNP beneficiaries requiring additional months of assistance.
Early assistance is key to preserving the PSNP’s developmental gains, as well as to preventing additional households from falling into chronic food insecurity as a result of shocks. An effective disaster risk management framework, with LEAP is a central component, is thus key to the sustainability of the overall PSNP and to achieving the National Food Security Programme’s objectives.
The LEAP Food Security Early Warning Tool
The LEAP software uses agro-meteorological monitoring data to estimate future crop yields and rangeland production (shown below). It then converts these estimates into the number of people, by district and region, projected to be in need of assistance due to anticipated production reductions. These beneficiary numbers are in turn used to calculate the financial resources necessary to scale up the PSNP accordingly, which can then trigger the immediate disbursement of contingent funds, thus enabling households to receive early livelihood protection before they start engaging in negative coping strategies.
The meteorological information used in LEAP comes from satellite data as well as from a network of automated and conventional weather stations. To improve the quality of this data, the LEAP project is investing in the national meteorological infrastructure, with 47 automated weather stations having been installed throughout the country as of 2013.
As part of its mandate, one of WFP’s priorities is to support governments in building national capacity to manage disaster risk and improve food security. LEAP, which allows communities to be assisted in a timely and cost-effective way in anticipation of an impending food crisis, is an excellent example of how WFP is supporting the Government of Ethiopia shift from disaster management to risk management. In particular, it is a powerful illustration of how WFP can help improve the effectiveness of disaster response by integrating early warning and risk transfer mechanisms (including contingent finance, but also potentially index-insurance), into conventional social protection schemes.
Building on the success of LEAP, WFP is committed to continue providing support to build comprehensive risk management frameworks which address food insecurity in a more cost-effective and sustainable manner. Working closely with governments and partners, WFP can help tailor interventions which enhance local risk management systems, including by building on safety nets and livelihood protection schemes, to enhance vulnerable communities’ food security and resilience to shocks.