Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

Member profile

Walter Mwasaa

Organization: CARE
Country: Bangladesh

Walter Mwasaa is a development aid worker with 15 years of experience guiding the implementation of livelihood, food security development and recovery programmes. His work has included communities affected by recurrent natural and man-made disasters ranging from droughts and flooding, to conflict and livestock and plant diseases. He has developed a keen interest in developing programmes and interventions that are geared towards achieving stable outcomes for target households in light of these recurrent and often unpredictable shocks.

He has previously worked in Somalia, Sierra Leone and Ethiopia, and is currently in Bangladesh overseeing the implementation of a large, donor-funded multisectoral programme aimed at reducing food insecurity and increasing resilience to shocks for rural communities in the northern part of the country.

Mr Mwasaa has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, a Master of Arts in Development Studies and is currently pursuing a PhD in the area of the transition of youth from education to gainful employment as a means of addressing poverty. He is a native of Kenya.

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    • What a wealth of contributions!

      I may not have a model for resilience in the light of time and uncertainties, but nonetheless I feel that my universe of what resilience entails has drastically expanded! Terminology such as “bounce-forward”, a metaphorical illustration of the need to achieve transformational change and not just bounce back to pre-shock state, is probably one of the most compelling concepts.

      The discussion delved into using available modelling of weather and predictable changes so that communities can be better prepared for shocks and stressors. The concept of geo-spatial considerations came out strongly –‘how big should we bite’ in resilience building.

      The complexity of shocks, dwindling resources, the fatigue caused by limited success, the ever present evolving gender and demographic differences and how the divergence impacts resilience building. In rural and closely knit communities, the societal set-up and how that is being affected by social and geopolitical determinants, market and climate factors were brought to the forefront. In preventing that shocks result in impact to a point of no-return, the pressing need to identify the breaking points at which resilience gains and or ‘critical’ thresholds may be crossed as if to provide an umbrella to all these concepts the simple underlying question – what resilience capacities are we trying to build and their relevance to the shocks and stressors at hand.

      One other contribution that resonated quite strongly with me was the whole issue of time as factor not just in terms of overall period for a complete analysis but a closer look at intervals between shocks, large and small as they vary and how that plays into critical seasonal or recurrent and predictable events such as rain, conflict and flu seasons.

      Lastly, the impact on policy and planning was given focus, it underlines the need for impact and success especially when governments are prioritizing limited resources.

      I come out of this wiser and in the search for an effective model for determining enduring resilience outcomes in increasingly uncertain contexts, the factors to be considered have been fleshed out. I wish all of you the best in your resilience building work and look forward to a future discussion in which we will have covered more ground scientifically, and, more importantly, in the communities and populations, our individual and collective effort target.

      Thank you all.

    • I again thank all those who have so far provided input to the discussion. The participants pointing to variables to be measured, capacities to be developed and the introduction of gender and women dimensions and outcomes all reaffirm how complex this conversation and resilience as a whole is.

      I would like to request members to share any successes that they have witnessed indicative of improving capacities to respond to shocks. The examples need not be scientific or quantitative. Focusing on time may be misleading, yet only after a definite period has lapsed we can look back and acknowledge that the resilience capacities are withstanding shocks and are not being eroded.

      There are a divergent realities in households, communities and systems. However, it also must not be lost on us that our ability to (closely to accurately) predict and model outcomes of shocks and stresses in households in the context of their changing capacities is going to be necessary to ensure that the right investments are made. Such a model could address the temporal resilience issue and further predict critical support and / or moments in which communities or individuals become vulnerable.

    • I would like to thank the current contributors to this debate for their thought provoking reflections on the challenges of ensuring more sustained outcomes in a very unstable context that is the world we all live in. This instability is potentially more complex among the disaster and shock prone communities and individuals that the work we do seeks to support out of perpetual cycle of inadequate readiness for the shocks. 

      That said I have come accross some literature that I believe captures some of the salient points in an analysis of resilience measurement tools that is relevant to this discussion. This is in a paper by Sharifi A. 2016 (  The paper is a stock take of tools for assessing community resilience. 

      In the paper he references to the need to acknowledge cross-scale relationships of shocks and capturing the temporal dynamism of in abilities of communities and individuals to respond to shocks Sharifi A (2016:631). The two dynamics introduce time and space aspects in measuring resilience . He continues to introduce the subject of uncertainities which is at the heart of this discussion.  With this the need for iterative assessments and scenario development is brought to the forefront. 

      The temporal dynamism and uncertainities in resilience measurement are in my opinion easily the two specific areas that need more focus. Complex as they may be, they point to the obvios need for deeper analysis accross multiple shocks in both time and impact, past current and future. 

      As we keep talking it would be interesting to hear of any practical examples out there that have modelled out specific potential resilience outcomes in a dynamic and unpredictable context.