Re: Addressing food insecurity in protracted crises: adequate and appropriate funding mechanisms

Walter Mwasaa Save the Children, Ethiopia
09.05.2013

Allow me to throw in my contribution albeit further down the conversation. I have enjoyed reading the thought provoking contributions and would like to add below:

With dwindling domestic budgets and limited impact most traditional donors are beginning to seek development solutions that deliver cost effective interventions with clear impact. A term that has recently come to the center stage is resilience which I revisit later. Better integration/coordination and planning by donors, government, aid agencies and stakeholders is called for.

Taking the Horn of Africa as an example, there is a renewed sense of integration/collaboration and joint planning, a better appreciation of the factors that affect program delivery and new terminology such a Layered, Integrated and Sequenced program are emerging (USAID - Joint Planning Cells framework - http://www.usaid.gov/resilience/joint-planning-cells). The essence is to see all interventions as contributory and building onto one picture.

An old development truth that has been in place over the years is that human development is not linear but a chain of complex interdependent variables that together determine economic and developmental outcomes on communities. Increase in these variables ranging from climate, government policies and administrative borders and national, regional and global impact on markets of products have led to increased disenfranchisement. Wealth thought through project designs are brought to naught as are development gains are wiped out by any or a combination of these and a myriad of other variables.

The crisis modifier approach has been lauded as a success in reducing the erosion of developmental gains and needs to be promoted. The setting of the crisis modifier enable aid community under USG funding to shift gear in the 2011 drought in Ethiopia and deliver immediate life saving interventions reducing the losses. Its timely triggering, delivering the correct interventions and to the right persons in appropriate quantities is essential. Another approach is the contingency budget incorporated into the Government of Ethiopia's PSNP program its success in protecting regression on the "livelihood ladder" is also dependent on the same factors as affects the crisis modifiers.

Coming back to the factors affecting livelihood there is a more pressing need to accurately anticipate the challenges and their impact. As interventions flip flop between development and relief and all the mutations in between, a better understanding of the resilience affecting factors and outcomes is requisite. Science has equipped us with a good understanding of many complex phenomenon through models (eg By creating mathematical models including temperatures, atmospheric pressure, and prevailing winds, scientists can forecast how these factors will affect the development and movement of a storm. Much of the programming of these models is based on the study of previous hurricanes- we can tell where a hurricane will fall way ahead of its time- Wiki.answers.com). Now more than ever, it is paramount that we begin to model the impact of shocks and other livelihood challenges in a process to determine the impact of the shocks and get to closer to understanding the potential impact and the most appropriate responses including the levels of engagement required.

Another area that I believe needs a closer look into is the whole area of the logic of resilience. (“The ability of a system, community or society exposed to hazards to resist, absorb, accommodate to and recover from the effects of a hazard in a timely and efficient manner” United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction) from my little I would take this definition to elasticity which has been used to explain resilience as ability to bounce back think of a tennis ball or an elastic band. There is a reality that all the natural objects bounce back only within the limits of elasticity. I don't intend to demote the complexity of human development and economics to physical matter but I believe in the same manner households, livelihoods options and communities have levels of elasticity beyond which recovery cannot be anticipated.

Inclusion - we need two contextual and dynamic models that provide us with the:

- ability to determine when to stop supporting which intervention with some level of accuracy with all factors considered by determination of livelihood "elasticity limits".

- ability to determine and quantify within a dynamic context the various factors and impacts each variable has on a household, livelihood, community so as to tailor flexible programs that will be responsive and adoptive and provide a range of responses given identified challenges.

I believe we can move towards more predictable outcomes once we model the community level challenges with a clear eye to the dynamics that exist. This will most likely then develop a confident donor , government , private approach to development problems in recurrent crises.

Dan, I look forward to seeing the conclusions to the conversations and specifically on the third bullet which is what I have attempted to deal with.

Thanks

Walter Mwasaa

Chief of Party for Save the Children's USG funded Development Food Program that supports the GoE's PSNP program