THIS IS A JOINT COMMENT FROM FSC (FAO: Rosanne Marchesich and WFP: Ally_-Raza Qureshi)
The FSC in Bangladesh works closely with the Government, the Local Consultative Group Working Group on Disaster and Emergency Response (LCGDER) and participate in meetings of the Humanitarian Coordination Task Team (HCTT) on all emergency coordination related activities/issues as well as maintain constant liaison and exchange of information with its government counterparts (including the Local Consultative Group on Agriculture, Food Security and Rural Development chaired by the Ministry of Agriculture and co-chaired by FAO. This structure is in place to ensure government leadership and help ensure a programmatic approach between emergency and development across the different structures. The Donors and Government are engaged at the all levels.
The FSC has previously dealt with two emergencies in 2012 namely waterlogging in Satkhira in early 2012 and the North Western floods in September 2012. A contingency planning exercise would serve to consolidate and strengthen cluster member coordination and reach in case of an emergency.
The FSC are working to enhance its preparedness measures and as part of this effort, a decision was made in February 2013 by FSC members, to initiate a contingency planning or road map exercise. The key objective is to strengthen the cluster’s ability to ensure proportionate, appropriate and timely food security responses to mitigate the impact on the affected communities with a focus on operational gap filling and elimination of duplication of assistance in times of emergency. The contingency plan functions on the assumption that the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) is primarily responsible for leading any response for disaster and crises, including at the divisional, district, upazila and union levels. The contingency plan provides a timely and effective complement to the GoB response.
Maintaining the normative functions of the FSC require minimal costs and Bangladesh has been successful in receiving funds to support these functions ( IPC, Needs Assessments and IMO activities including developing a FSC contingency plan) at the national level. The difficulty is to advocate for timely and sufficient funds for a coordinated and appropriate response, among FSC members (which includes I/NGOs UN and Government), following a needs assessment and in line with the contingency plan. This continues to be the biggest challenge. Traditionally, most funding is made available when a disaster occurs and often chronic/protracted crisis situations do not get funded unless there is an acute shock of significant magnitude and wider media coverage. Funding is often not available to address chronic situations. Changes in funding can improve and support faster recovery due to increased preparedness in disaster prone areas and addressing chronic food insecurity in protracted situations.
The current funding mechanisms support short term projects as immediate response to crisis while development assistance is funded separately for long term interventions. Often the short term crisis is caused by lack of funding for long term interventions. Long term interventions such as disaster risk reduction programmes often address the underlying causes of crisis.
The FSC has previously dealt with two emergencies in 2012 namely waterlogging in Satkhira in early 2012 and the North Western floods in September 2012 followed by the 3W exercise completed by the FSC members. The major objective of the NW Flood initial assessment was to assess the damages to agriculture, food security and livelihoods and estimate the number of households in need of immediate assistance. The 3W matrix provided a clear picture of the most vulnerable households being reached, through the proactive interventions of the FSC members, and those that still require assistance, preventing overlap and gaps, in the nations response. The exercise found that some 94,519 households of the total 105,616 marginal farmers (37% of total affected households) have been addressed. However, significant needs remain unmet. On the one hand, an estimated 49,000 households (comprising about 17,500 agricultural day labourers and 31,500 marginal farmers) required urgent cash/food assistance over the course of the next three months. This support was needed in order to guarantee a minimum level of consumption until such times as the agricultural cycle resumes and the labour market can recover.
A request for funds was submitted to donors within the country and EUR1million was provided from one donor only, thus not all the needs could be met. Currently, a follow up needs assessment is being carried out and preliminary results generate more funds for a cash and food response has reduced the affected populations ability to recover quickly. The results will be available soon.
It is extremely important to determine potential funding sources, during “peace time” so that if and when emergencies arise, appropriate and timely responses can be provided to beneficiaries. If successful fundraising is not achieved, the normative functions of the FSC will be seen as an additional task to its members and a burden, instead of a benefit, to the affected communities. It is encouraged that the DP are an active part of the cluster, but potential immediate funding mechanism need to be in place, perhaps through a programmatic approach as we know there will be emergencies, the only uncertainty is the severity, location and time.
The challenge of working with short term funding mechanisms to address longer term needs are (i) uncertainty and lack of predictability of funding impact planning and implementation (ii) Challenges to scale up the programme. Short term funding can however be used to demonstrate successful models, which help to generate evidence on the results. The successful models can then be funded through the Government regular budgets through mainstreaming in the sector plans.
The pooling of flexible short term funds also is another effective way of addressing the longer term needs as demonstrated with the Country Investment Plan where funding is from the core GoB resources but additionally other actors contribute to the various elements of the CIP through short term projects.
In Bangladesh, the Country Investment Plan (CIP) “A road map towards investment in agriculture, food security and nutrition” managed by the Food Polciy and Monitoring Unit, Ministry of Food, is also a strong advocacy tool for increased allocation of financial resources from both the GoB and Development Partners. The CIP is a 5-year comprehensive plan that aims to ensure sustainable food security. It is aligned with and embedded in the Government’s 6th Five Year Plan as well as with the national budgetary framework. One proposal would be to expand the CIP, to address emergency funding requirement linked to food security and nutrition of ultra-poor, marginal and disaster-affected households. Protracted crises need a combination of both humanitarian and development assistance , this means that flexible funding should be available where funding should be available to address longer term strategies and projects with flexibility to address acute humanitarian crisis as and when required.
Also, LCG-AFSRD is the key plat form for this tool, which from the above diagram is linked to the FSC. This linkage should be further strengthened to: (1) expand opportunity for linking short and longer term funding opportunities; (2) help ensure an integrated emergency and development response. expand the CIP to address emergency funding requirement linked to food security and nutrition.