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Livelihoods and food security: from food aid to self-reliance

People in fragile, conflict-affected areas are twice as likely to be undernourished as those residing in other developing countries. Climate change and the continued increase in forced displacements further exacerbate food insecurity and livelihood challenges. 

A woman working in a vegetable garden in an Asian country
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relief to recovery

Enable people to provide for themselves

ZOA provides food assistance, preferably through distribution of cash or vouchers, in emergency situations. During the recovery phase, ZOA supports people in building sustainable livelihoods. Thus, we enable people to provide for themselves again. 

Food security in crises

ZOA implements relief activities in case of humanitarian emergencies. Food assistance is provided to meet the immediate needs of the affected people. ZOA offers both cash in-kind food assistance as well as cash or food vouchers for beneficiaries to spend directly on food items that best fit their needs. The choice for the most appropriate approach in a specific context is based on an assessment of the actual humanitarian needs. The question is which resource transfer modality will deliver the necessary aid in the most relevant, effective, efficient, safe and rapid manner possible.

A woman in front of her house in Congo
Inge Vos

Inge Vos, Livelihoods and Food Security Specialist

ZOA's long-term commitment ensures that people, even the poorest and most vulnerable, have the opportunity to work towards sustainable livelihoods and food security.


Sustainable food systems

During the recovery phase, ZOA supports people in building sustainable livelihoods. ZOA works towards sustainable food systems to ensure availability and access to sufficient nutritious food. 

ZOA’s programmes include activities on the production side, improving agriculture production and processing practices, reducing waste and losses and making efficient use of natural resources. Through diversification of crops, we aim to increase the availability of various food crops for a varied diet. Access to food is further enhanced by addressing constraints in food value chains and food markets, and increasing the purchasing power of beneficiaries through livelihood activities.

Livelihood approaches

Households seek various ways of generating income to provide for their needs. To succeed in their efforts, people require the appropriate resources, skills and capacities, as well as favourable external conditions.

  • Agriculture production. We analyze the best entry points for sustainable use of resources, and resilience of the agricultural systems to natural hazards.
  • Value chain development. We provide training on processing and facilitate access of beneficiaries to markets.
  • Income generating activities. Through small entrepreneurship, vocational training, job creation or cooperatives.

Working together

Networks and partners

ZOA participates in several networks and works together with other NGO’s to increase the impact of our projects. ZOA is a member of AgriProFocus. In the countries were we work, ZOA collaborates with the UN, governments and local partners.