Building resilience has to start with overcoming the humanitarian development nexus. Therefore, we attach great importance to link relief, rehabilitation and development by implementing integrated interventions combining response, recovery, mitigation and preparedness.
ACTED’s strategy aims to address the structural vulnerabilities of communities affected by natural disasters and climate change, enabling them to acquire sustainable resilience. This is achieved by supporting individuals, communities and systems to develop three key capacities: absorbing shocks and stresses through positive coping mechanisms; adapting behaviours and practices through learning from experience, to mitigate the impacts of disasters; and transforming structural vulnerabilities into a fundamentally new, and resilient, system.
What does resilience refer to?
Resilience refers to the capacity of an individual, household, population group or system to absorb, adapt, and transform from shocks and stresses without compromising – and potentially enhancing – long-term prospects.
- Absorptive capacity covers the coping strategies individuals, households, or communities use to moderate or buffer the impacts of shocks on their livelihoods and basic needs.
- Adaptive capacity is the ability to learn from experience and adjust responses to changing external conditions, yet continue operating.
- Transformative capacity is the capacity to create a fundamentally new system when ecological, economic, or social structures make the existing system untenable.
The resilience concept is thus not just looking at the impact of disasters but also at what makes communities vulnerable to multiple shocks and stresses. It further examines to what extent communities are able to bounce back after a disaster, conflict or shock, therefore addressing their core vulnerabilities and putting more emphasis on the need for recovery from such shocks to mitigate future risks.
Contributing to sustainable reduction in vulnerability
A resilience approach within the disaster risk management cycle provides the crucial link between emergency response, early recovery and long-term development. ACTED’s efforts to build resilience aims at contributing to a sustainable reduction in vulnerability through increased absorptive, adaptive and transformative capacity of local populations, governments and other actors; improved ability to identify, address and reduce risk; and improved social and economic conditions of vulnerable populations. As much as possible, we lay the basis for further development when designing humanitarian programme, notably by involving beneficiary communities throughout the project cycle and building their resilience, so as to ensure the sustainability of the intervention, and reduce the dependency of affected communities of affected communities to external assistance.
Once emergency needs have been met following a disaster and the initial crisis is over, people are still in a state of heightened vulnerability. Rehabilitation and recovery activities are an important aspect for the restoration of basic services to enable the population to return to normalcy. ACTED’s approach is to ‘Build Back Better, Safer and Fairer’- seeing rehabilitation and recovery also as an opportunity to address root causes of vulnerability and future risks and lay the groundwork for resilience to future crisis as well as sustainable development.
The core of ACTED’s resilience strategy lies in engaging communities. ACTED’s relationship with these committees forms the central nucleus of the resilience approach, and provides an appropriate ‘development gateway’, through which aid actors can introduce a wide range of modular ‘add-on’or ‘spin-off’activities. The ACTED focus on facilitating dialogue among neighbouring communities. This dialogue in community driven and initiated, and normally begins with sharing learnings from four key topics of Ecosystems, ivelihoods, Markets and Grossroots Governance.
The final phase of ACTED’s resilience approach centres on fostering a deeper engagement between the previously connected communities. This involves integrated joint planning among communities, in areas such as rangeland or natural resource management, and addressing market gaps or system failures, with the ultimate goal of improving social cohesion.
A core learning from ACTED’s experience of resilience programming has been the importance of investing in people who are committed to supporting their community to achieve self-reliance. Avoiding the risk of elite capture phenomenon, and identifying Community-Based Facilitators (CBF) who are truly motivated to achieve the programme’s objectives – and to continue to support the maintenance of resilient systems after the programme’s end – is a major factor in determining the success of the programme.
Building cross-border resilience between Uganda and Kenya
Pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities in Pokot are among the most vulnerable in Kenya. The region is regularly affected by both flooding and drought, and its remoteness, and subsequent low social services provision, have exacerbated its vulnerability. The worsening impacts of climate change have seen Pokot face increasingly limited access to pasture and water, resulting in crop failure, poor livestock performance, and subsequently, reduced income and food security.
The Karamojong population, across the national border in eastern Uganda, face similar conditions and challenges. These two groups often share a common language, natural resources, and access to markets, and have similar livelihoods approaches. As such, since 2007, ACTED has been tackling these shared vulnerabilities with a comprehensive cross-border approach, making the most of our long presence and experience on both sides of the border. ACTED has worked with local authorities to establish cross-border animal health agreements, as well as building social cohesion at the community level, by piloting our Field School Plus (FS+) resilience model.
Through this model, ACTED supports pastoralists and agro-pastoralists to learn by experimentation, using demonstration plots and emphasising the importance of sharing experiences. ACTED facilitates inter-community and cross-border linkages and exchanges, through which communities on either side of the border— who have often experienced conflict over access to resources in the past – share experiences on topics such as market access, rangeland and pasture management, and crop production. Through these exchanges, ACTED has found that neighbouring communities often come to self-initiated mutually beneficial agreements on future collaboration. For example, ACTED promotes Participatory Rangeland Management (PRM), which focuses on developing community driven ways of managing access to resources. In PRM, ACTED supports the community to map the available resources; the community then negotiates the use of these resources, and ACTED builds the capacity of the community to monitor and enforce the agreement. This method builds on traditional mechanisms, and focuses on supporting communities to develop and manage their own resources, in a way which strengthens community cohesion.