Common UN Approach on Resilience Building in the Sahel
By the UN
|CREDIT: OCHA Chad- Pierre Peron|
"Too often households and communities do not have the capability to withstand the damaging effects of the multiple climate and market shocks they are facing.
The repeated humanitarian crises in the Sahel are due to a failure of development. A strategy of resilience should therefore directly support those households most vulnerable to humanitarian crises so that they can better absorb shocks, rebuild after a crisis and support a longer-term transformation through education and livelihoods diversification. An effective resilience program should support improved agricultural productivity with a particular emphasis on women’s role in agriculture, promote resilient behavioral practices, encourage sustainable livelihoods, diversification of revenues, and sustainable natural resource management, scale up coverage of basic social services, strengthen early warning and risk management systems, and extend social protection coverage to vulnerable households."
Find here an extract of the Action Plan developed by the United Nations in July 2012, outlining a common approach on resilience building in the Sahel region.
The Sahel in 2012
1. The countries of the Sahel covered by this paper are Burkina Faso, Chad, The Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and the Sahel regions of northern Nigeria and Cameroon. These countries face structural food and nutrition security problems that periodically require large-scale humanitarian response and therefore would most benefit from a resilience building programme. The Sahel lies on the border with the Sahara desert and is subject to variable rainfall and frequent drought. Despite the marginal productivity of the region, the Sahel supports over 115 million people and the population is rapidly growing. At current rates of growth, the population will double in the next twenty-five years to nearly a quarter of a billion people. Clearly, traditional means of subsistence will not be sufficient and a significant transformation will be required across the region.
2. The Sahel faces complex political, security, human rights, development and humanitarian challenges. Human development is among the lowest in the world. Drought has become ever more frequent in the past decade. The current emergency is the third since 2005 and the ability of households to absorb the shock of repeated crises has been eroded. This year, over 18 million people are at risk of food insecurity and acute malnutrition. Over one million children in the region will suffer from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in 2012.
3. Compounding the development and humanitarian situation is the increase of insecurity in the region. Conflict, displacement, weak border management and the presence of transnational criminal and terrorist organizations have also resulted in the widespread flow of arms, drug trafficking and hostage taking. Insecurity in Mali, Nigeria, Mauritania, Niger, and Chad has become particularly acute due to the heightened activity of both Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Boko Haram. Transnational criminal organizations in the region profit significantly from their activities. Such profits can and have been used to corrupt state structures in order to maintain criminal networks, further eroding state authority.
4. The crises in Cote d’Ivoire and Libya last year further exacerbated those challenges leading to the proliferation of weapons, large number of returnees, additional strains on already weak government capacities, and a loss of remittances. Since mid-January, the complex emergency in northern Mali has led to the inflow of more than 252,000 refugees into neighboring countries, primarily, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger, in areas already severely affected by the drought, and 174,000 internally displaced people within Mali.
5. The complexity of issues in the Sahel requires an integrated strategy as mandated by Security Council Resolution 2056 (2012), articulating key priorities in the security, governance, human rights, development and humanitarian realms and their inter-relationship. This paper focuses on the development and humanitarian components of this integrated strategy.
Building Resilience in the Sahel
6. Too often households and communities do not have the capability to withstand the damaging effects of the multiple climate and market shocks they are facing. For the most vulnerable, survival strategies during a severe crisis include selling off assets, particularly livestock, pulling children out of school, reducing the quantity and nutritional quality of food purchased, and consuming grain that may be required as seed for the next planting season. While life saving, such strategies compromise the ability of households to rebuild after a crisis and have a life long impact on children’s physical, cognitive and educational development.
7. The repeated humanitarian crises in the Sahel are due to a failure of development. A strategy of resilience should therefore directly support those households most vulnerable to humanitarian crises so that they can better absorb shocks, rebuild after a crisis and support a longer-term transformation through education and livelihoods diversification. An effective resilience program should support improved agricultural productivity with a particular emphasis on women’s role in agriculture, promote resilient behavioral practices, encourage sustainable livelihoods, diversification of revenues, and sustainable natural resource management, scale up coverage of basic social services, strengthen early warning and risk management systems, and extend social protection coverage to vulnerable households.
8. In the short-term, humanitarian action will continue to provide life-saving assistance and address most acute needs, with particular emphasis on protecting assets and strengthen disaster risk management capacities; in the medium-term, and through a mixture of humanitarian and development assistance, disaster risk reduction and development interventions will aim at rebuilding assets, supporting livelihoods, scaling up social protection, and providing access to basic services, without any form of discrimination; in the long-term, it will be important to consolidate the gains achieved through the short and medium term interventions to achieve peace, inclusive, equitable and sustainable growth, and human development. In this respect, resilience is also about preventive action.
Principles for Action
Resilience-building activities undertaken by Governments, civil society, agencies and partners should be centered on the following key principles, and anchor themselves within policies aimed at promoting better governance, decentralization, community-level resilience and local development:
9. Start and end at the local level: Resilience building in the Sahel should reflect local knowledge and promote community participation, ownership and empowerment in the design and implementations of programs.
10. Place resilience at the center of programming: Resilience is not simply a re-labeling of existing activities. While many initiatives may reduce vulnerabilities indirectly, resilience strengthening should target households directly.
11. Build within and upon countries’ policy planning frameworks: National leadership, ownership and accountability are key. Resilience should be firmly grounded in existing strategies, policies, and plans at the local, national, and regional levels.
12. Focus on risk and uncertainty: Risk and vulnerability analysis and management should inform the design of all resilience activities and programs.
13. Business as usual is not sufficient to tackle this challenge: Humanitarian and development organizations must work together to address the issues of resilience.
14. A human rights based approach should drive the resilience building approach, ensuring that it is participatory, and non-discriminatory.
15. Recognize that resilience is a long-term development objective: There will be a need for integrated multi-year programming of humanitarian and development assistance.
16. Long term engagement can be achieved through active participation in global, regional and local partnership initiatives: UN agencies are well positioned to contribute meaningfully to such initiatives having both the ability to work downstream on household related initiatives and upstream on institutional and policy level development. A well-supported Resident and Humanitarian Coordination system with a coherent and impact oriented development programme for resilience is a prerequisite for success.
UNCTs in Sahel Countries will develop country level plans on resilience for implemenation in 2013. Similarly, UN agency regional offices will work closely with regional institutions on a regional plan. Recommendations on initiatives that can be