At the recent EU Development Days, EuropeAid’s Director of Human and Society Development, Kristian Schmidt underlined that promoting the concept of Resilience will not only save lives, it will save money. But success for Resilience measures will involve bridging the gap between emergency response and long term development. The EC’s Humanitarian Aid department ECHO is taking steps towards this in Ethiopia.

Following the recent Communication,* and as one of the cross cutting themes at this year’s European Development Days, Resilience is a current Commission buzzword - and with good reason. ‘Only now are we coming to the conclusion that we spend seven times more to provide emergency aid instead of addressing the root causes,’ said Kristian Schmidt at the DevDays.

So how will this play out on the ground? This year, ECHO in Ethiopia adopted a new mid-term and multi-sector approach to build resilience in the most vulnerable areas. Focusing on nutritional problems as an entry point, they looked at where the biggest problems were recurring and selected nine clusters of districts for work by a consortium of NGOs and UN partners, in support of government programmes. 

“What is different now is that we can also look at the other sectors,” said Johan Heffinck, Head of Office at ECHO in Ethiopia, “For example, which health aspects can help bring malnutrition under control, which water activities can help bring malnutrition under control, which agricultural and livelihood programmes can help bring malnutrition under control, and to mainstream Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in this as a red line,” he explained.

In this way, the Resilience concept provides form to Disaster Risk Reduction, which is introduced in all of the sector’s programmes and becomes an entity which can be worked on from year to year. Importantly, it also allows full back up from the planned EU development programmes that will take place in the same area.

“And this is crucial - if the ECHO programme and the development programme can start to work in the same areas geographically and have the same goal in the middle to longer term - then we can really get some results going,” Mr Heffinck continued.

Henrike Trautmann, Head of Unit, Thematic Policies, Resilience and Transition at ECHO Headquarters also considers that mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction through ECHOs humanitarian operations is important. “For that, the Resilience context and discussion is extremely useful,” she said, “because on the basis of concrete experience - such as SHARE and AGIR - we can further develop the concept of Disaster Risk Reduction and use it in different contexts.”

She added that the best results would come from building a history of best practice and drawing lessons for sharing with colleagues.

Resilience also provides a framework of meaning for the concept of Transition, where better development could reduce the need for relief, that better relief could contribute to development - and that the transition between the two is facilitated by rehabilitation. This is also known as Linking Relief Rehabilitation and Development (LRRD), and essentially is concerned with how humanitarian and development donors work together.

“The Resilience concept allows us to make LRRD a bit clearer because it gives us a joint framework of planning and joint analysis of the crisis situations and that allows us to find a better way to work together and to fill, with something concrete, the empty shell which LRRD has been so far,” Ms Trautmann explained. 

Her advice to colleagues, both humanitarian and development workers, is to be more flexible in the aftermath of a big emergency and allow possibility of a ‘crisis modifier’ that allows reorientation of funds - at least temporarily - to ensure management of that emergency, while not forgetting the root causes and long term programmes.

Mr Heffinck added that humanitarian relief should not limit interventions to a reaction to an acute crisis, but also look at the longer term impact and consequences of the crisis and contribute to the resilience building of affected communities.

“This way we reach out half way to the development side,” he said. “If both sides are doing this then we have really made the bridge between the humanitarian side and the development side through the resilience framework and that is the dream we all have.”

* For more information on the recent Communication on Resilience, please see the Voices & Views 'The EU Approach to Resilience: Learning from Food Security Crisis.'

This collaborative piece was drafted with input from Henrike Trautmann and Johan Heffinck, with support from the Coordination Team.


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DISCLAIMER: This information is provided in the interests of knowledge sharing and capacity development and should not be interpreted as the official view of the European Commission, or any other organisation.

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