Thanks to a clever use of existing procedures, the European Union Delegation to Burkina Faso working in partnership with the government, successfully managed a seamless transition from an emergency intervention by the Commission’s humanitarian body, ECHO, to offering long-term support to more than 100,000 flood victims.

Flooding in Burkina Faso in 2010

In mid-July 2010 the entire Sahel of Western Africa was affected by heavy rainfall. In north and central Burkina Faso the weather changed abruptly from dry to wet with very heavy rainfall on 21st and 22nd July. This resulted in extensive flooding which affected the lives and livelihoods of more than 100,000 people.

In the aftermath of the disaster, ECHO, the Humanitarian Aid department of the European Commission, intervened immediately along with other donors to provide emergency assistance, including food and shelter to the afflicted communities.

Aware of the fact that much more would remain to be done to help flood victims restore their living conditions after emergency aid ended, the Delegation of the European Union to Burkina Faso started planning its long-term intervention as the emergency continued.

"We were in a post emergency situation and in order to consolidate [ECHO's] intervention we thought it was very important to build on it with further activities in the same area," explained Ronan Pêcheur, project officer of the rural development sector of the EU Delegation to Burkina Faso. 



"Our main objective was to rebuild the production assets - the affected population were mainly farmers - destroyed by the flooding but also to focus our action on risk prevention, which is a key element to us, with local communities," he added. "Our challenge was to manage to have our project approved before the end of ECHO's intervention at the end of March 2011."

The "grey zone" between humanitarian aid and development aid in post crisis situations has proved on many occasions in the past to reduce the impact of aid. The European Commission has for many years already focused its efforts in improving the link between relief, rehabilitation and development (LRRD). The EC emphasises that 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.

"A positive element is that we were working with actors who had already been funded by ECHO and had already worked with local communities in the field", Mr Pêcheur continued. "So we used all the work that had already been done to work faster and be more reactive in setting up projects."

In the aftermath of the flooding, the EU Delegation in Ouagadougou started selecting carefully the relevant procedures to use in order to allow for quick intervention.

"In order to meet this short deadline we used the relevant procedures included in the Cotonou Agreement, and especially articles 72 and 73 allowing for quick intervention especially in post emergency situations," Mr Pêcheur explained. "To fund our action, we have asked right from the beginning to use Envelope B for both emergency and post emergency development interventions."

Distribution of Emergency Kits Post-Flood

The European Development Fund B- Envelope covers unforeseen needs and emergency assistance in the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.

In May 2011, just after the end of ECHO's intervention and the beginning of the planting season, the agreement was finally signed by the Director General of EuropeAid, the EC's development arm. Then the EU delegation had to prepare four contracts with the NGOs that will implement the action. We obtained derogation from the headquarters so that the NGOs could engage retroactively the expenses as from 1st April, in other words, before the signature of the contracts which will be signed in July.

Respecting the tight deadlines and making the link between an emergency response and effective long-term development wasn't an easy task said Mr Pêcheur but he offered some advice for staff in other EU Delegations that might be in a similar position.

"First you need to know how procedures work and then you need to convince your colleagues that it is the right tool to use", Mr Pêcheur insists. "You don't need to be creative. The tools exist. You just need to ask how to use them quickly. It is not something we are used to. So my conclusion is YES, it is possible, but you have to fight for it."


If you want to know more about the link between Emergency and Development, watch this creative PPT presentation explaining  how the European Commission made the link between humanitarian and development interventions in the context of food security.

The PPT is available in English and in French.



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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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