Resilience building

We believe that better development can reduce the need for emergency relief; better relief can contribute to development; and better rehabilitation can ease the transition between the two.

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.

Building resilience 

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.

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