A boy smiles as he picks corn in a cornfield.


We’re in a global food crisis made worse by conflict, climate change and economic challenges. Families are struggling, and child hunger is robbing girls and boys of their one chance to grow up healthy. Our work focuses on getting people the resources they need to survive today, while building toward a future where families are economically empowered with sustainable livelihoods. One where they can provide for their children and withstand the challenges that come. Whether they’re farmers or entrepreneurs, approaches like microfinance, savings groups and cash assistance help families break out of poverty.


$226 million

focused on Livelihoods

192 projects

people reached


In Kenya, farmers knowing the benefits of biofortified crops increased from

40% to 84%Elegeyo Marakawit|2017-2021

In Mongolia, families with enough food increased from

53% to 74%Chingeltei|2013-2020

48424people were actively involved in savings groups


82404people were trained in agriculture and livestock techniques


3320279people benefitted from food assistance (in-kind and cash-based)

Connected Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Development Goal 01 logo: No povertySustainable Development Goal 02 logo: Zero hungerSustainable Development Goal 05 logo: Gender EqualitySustainable Development Goal 13 logo: Climate action

Explore our investments and results

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A group of young boys smiling as they hold up cards with numbers and letters on them.

Global Challenges

Food security

Our world is in the midst of a global hunger crisis. With conflict, climate change and the enduring economic impacts of COVID-19, families are struggling to access enough safe, nutritious food for basic human health and development.

In 2021, 41 million4 people—approximately half of them girls and boys—were at risk of starvation in 43 countries, with 584,000 people enduring famine-like conditions in Ethiopia, Madagascar, South Sudan and Yemen. This is a crisis that often goes unnoticed, because much of the worsening hunger is concentrated in the world’s hardest to reach, most dangerous places where humanitarian access is difficult.

We know from past emergencies, such as the 2011 Somalia famine in which 258,000 people are estimated to have died, that approximately half had already perished by the time a declaration of famine was made, and that half of all those who died were children younger than five years old.

The vulnerability of agriculture to natural hazards and disasters is a major driver of hunger and food insecurity. Between 2008 and 2018, approximately $108.5 billion US was lost because of declines in crop and livestock production in both least developed and lower- and middle-income countries following disasters. Over that period, Asia was the hardest hit region, followed by Africa, then Latin America and the Caribbean.

Women continue to be the face of food insecurity, with moderate or severe food insecurity being 10% higher among women than men in 2020, a 4% increase from 2019. With high levels of income inequality and food costs, consuming a healthy diet was out of reach for approximately 3 billion people in 2019, particularly the poor. That number is now expected to have increased—according to FAO’s Food Price Index, global food prices were 31.4% higher in October 2021 compared to October 2020.

Large-scale food and nutrition crises can and should be a thing of the past—to make this a reality, we need strong collective leadership, political will and the right financing, with short-term emergency responses and longer-term commitments that address the underlying issues driving hunger. These efforts must all support human rights, peaceful resolutions to conflict and the transformation of food systems to become inclusive, sustainable and more resilient.

Economic Empowerment

The world has seen a decline in global poverty, especially since 1998. However, the rate of that decline has been slowing, driven largely by armed conflicts and climate change.

In June 2021, the World Bank noted that growth in 90% of advanced economies was expected to regain pre-pandemic per capita income levels by 2022—yet only a third of emerging markets and developing economies would make the same recovery. The pandemic’s severe outbreaks and increasingly transmissible virus strains is hurting economic growth, especially in low-income countries where vaccine access remains low. In sub-Saharan Africa, per capita income growth is forecast to remain subdued, averaging 0.4% a year in 2021 and 2022, following a 5% decline in 2020. Meanwhile, income inequality continues to increase, worsened by COVID-19.

Financial services are a tool that can help people rise out of poverty, providing access to credit and savings, the ability to invest in education or businesses, and safety nets to weather financial emergencies. However, many living in poverty lack services like bank accounts that can help in these ways. As of 2017, 1.7 billion adults were “unbanked” around the world, most of them from developing economies. Women are over-represented, accounting for 56% of all unbanked adults, and 30% are young adults with lower education levels.

Education is an important factor in future economic success, yet there were 267 million young people not involved in employment, education or training even before the pandemic, with young women three times more likely than their male counterparts to be unemployed or out of school. In 2020, UNESCO estimated that 24 million children and youth were at risk of dropping out of school for financial reasons because of the pandemic.

Disaster Risk Reduction

Between climate change, urbanization and an overall lack of disaster preparedness worldwide, natural hazards like earthquakes and tsunamis are becoming increasingly catastrophic, causing death and economic losses. Children are often disproportionately affected in these events, and the risk of disasters caused by natural hazards is rising.

The year 2020 rivalled 2016 as the world’s hottest year on record. It was dominated by climate-related disasters that were largely responsible for 389 recorded events, resulting in more than 15,000 deaths and $171.3 million US in economic losses. In 2020 there were 26% more storms and 23% more floods than previous annual averages. In Africa, floods affected seven million people and droughts were most heavily experienced in the Sahel region, affecting 13.4 million people in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

The practice of “disaster risk reduction” reduces vulnerability to disasters by identifying risks and making community-based and systemic changes that mitigate them. This work is vital to prevent needless deaths and to ensure the development work of organizations like World Vision is sustainable.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development affirms the need to reduce the risks and effects of disasters. By doing so, there are opportunities to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through reducing vulnerability among the poor and building resilient infrastructure.

Please see our Annual Results Report for a full list of references

Two young girls smile at each other as they stand in a grass field with a bicycle.

Approach and Strategy

Our Goal

Families become economically self-reliant with the ability to provide for their children—both now and in the future

Equip families and individuals with resources and training, focusing on women’s economic empowerment
Join forces at the community level to build sustainability and resilience
Strengthen gender-responsive food and market systems to support the most vulnerable

World Vision’s livelihoods work is founded on our deep commitment to the world’s most vulnerable girls and boys. Using holistic, evidence-based approaches, we help families in dire need to affirm their dignity and become economically self-reliant, with the means to provide for their own children—both now and in the future.

At the household level, we equip parents to provide for their children, with a specific focus on women’s economic empowerment. With training in small business skills, savings through savings groups and adapted practices for livestock and agriculture, families can both increase and diversify their incomes. This strengthens their resilience to disasters so that their lives and livelihoods are less disrupted by future shocks and stresses. During emergencies and hunger crisis situations, providing food assistance to families is a critical, life-saving part of our response. In settings that are politically and environmentally precarious and exposed to disasters and climate risks, we focus where the need is greatest, building resilience and adaptability through temporary provisions of food and cash. This gives families a safety net and helps them manage without slipping further into extreme poverty.

At the community level, we work with local groups and organizations to become more economically productive, with access to markets and financial services like savings, credit and cash where appropriate and needed. We support communities in becoming more resilient to shocks, stewarding their environments in ways that increase agricultural sustainability and reduce the risks of disaster.

At the systemic level, we influence structural changes to promote sustainable employment opportunities, inclusive market systems and positive social and gender norms, creating pathways for women’s economic empowerment. In hazard-prone areas, we support the development of early warning systems and action plans for times of crisis, so that authorities are equipped with knowledge, skills and resources for effective disaster management.

How we’ve adapted in the face of COVID-19

  • Cash and voucher programming have helped to protect people’s livelihoods and decrease their reliance on harmful coping mechanisms—especially for women, girls and people with disabilities.
  • Savings groups have received support to continue functioning while prioritizing members’ health and safety. Now, longterm measures are being instituted to digitize savings group ledgers, enabling mobile money linkages and minimizing handling of cash.
A white jeep driving through a muddy path, featuring a rainbow and trees in the background.

Investments and Results

In 2021, $226 million was invested in 192 projects that focused primarily on livelihoods approaches, reaching 1,212,499 girls, 1,162,914 boys, 966,675 women and 793,249 men. These investments went largely toward projects in most fragile countries (53%), followed by very low developing countries (25%). The vast majority of our livelihoods portfolio (77%) involves humanitarian relief work in small to large-scale crisis responses, chronic emergencies and fragile contexts—this is largely because people in unstable and dire situations have pressing, large-scale food security needs. Our economic empowerment work, most concentrated in long-term development settings, is an important step in breaking cycles of poverty and seeing sustainable economic improvements.
Going forward, we expect our focus on food security to continue as a main driver in the livelihoods sector, led by our partnership with the United Nations World Food Programme. Complementing this work, we anticipate World Vision’s agricultural training and distribution of farming and livestock resources will continue to strengthen food systems and increase family food security across our project areas. ...
A wide-shot image of two people wearing backpacks, looking up at a massive green mountain area.



Efforts put in by families and communities over the past several years have contributed to measurable positive change. Here are some livelihoods examples we gathered in 2021.


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Unless otherwise stated, data presented on this page reflects results of World Vision Canada programs reported between October 2020 and September 2021.