Building resilience in fragile states, conflict settings key challenge

  • By Helen Young and Anne Radday
  • 07/03/2017

An armed cattle keeper fires bullets in the air to intimidate raiders as they prepare to lead their herds of cattle home after grazing at a camp outside the capital Juba October 18, 2014. REUTERS/Jok Solomon

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Working in fragile states and conflict settings was a hot topic at the recent BRACED Annual Learning Event in Entebbe, Uganda, in February. Many BRACED consortia are working in contexts where there is conflict, lack of local government, political instability or economic crises. In these places climate vulnerability is often exacerbated by these other types of shocks. 

We recognise that when climate risks intersect with other shocks, they take on new dimensions of threat. This is a new phenomenon with which all consortia (and many outside of BRACED) are grappling and which is affecting our abilities to build resilience. Although it was not confirmed on the official agenda, more than 25 participants representing approximately three-quarters of all BRACED consortia joined an ad hoc session to share experiences and identify lessons learned. 

This post aims to share our discussion with the broader BRACED community and invite others to join the important dialogue that was sparked in Uganda.    

In our short conversation, our collective experience converged on two priorities for resilience programmes in these contexts, and one potential research question.

  1. History and context matter a lot: Building resilience in fragile and conflict settings requires a deep understanding of the history and context of the area, considering all groups (not only those BRACED might be working with), their livelihood systems, interactions and relationships in order to ensure principled ways of working.  Given the diversity of experience, many felt that research was needed looking into the impact of conflict and insecurity on the BRACED programme itself, and the resilience of BRACED communities.                                                            
  2. Local institutions must be part of the solution: Many BRACED international NGOs have practical experience from working with and supporting local committees or governance institutions - for example, local conventions for management of natural resources in Niger, supporting interest groups in Karamoja, Uganda, and community agencies in Mali. Building resilience in conflict settings is neither humanitarian nor standard development, hence the need to learn from the particular experience of working with local institutions to build resilience.

Continuing the conversation

The brief ad hoc meeting gave us a taste of the value of sharing experiences in this area and uncovered a significant opportunity for ongoing learning across BRACED.  We therefore propose a series of “learning calls,” that any consortium may join to share experiences or just listen and learn.  Some of the topics for further learning that we would like to discuss are:

  • The importance of the humanitarian standards framework in guiding BRACED actions in conflict settings
  • The need to give pastoralism the same attention as other livelihood systems, and how to do this

Tufts University (as part of the Building Resilience in Chad and Sudan (BRICS) consortium), will take the lead to set up a platform. If you would like to be a part of this learning group, please contact Anne Radday at anne.radday@tufts.edu. Also, let her know if you have specific topics you would like the group to discuss. She will inform all those interested about the schedule and topics for upcoming calls. We plan to have the first call in early April and then monthly, with each call addressing a specific topic related to building resilience in fragile and conflict contexts.

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Braced or its partners.

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