The number of natural disasters and armed conflicts has been rising for years. In order to break the vicious circle of recurring crises, aid organisations need to meet new challenges. The growing need for humanitarian assistance is pushing them to the limit of their capacities.
For decades, one of the core roles of humanitarian assistance and development cooperation has been to reduce the vulnerability of communities to the effects of crises and disasters. Strengthening their resilience is a long-term task, working in cooperation with emergency assistance, reconstruction and development cooperation and taking into account socio-political, physio-geographical and climatic dangers.
Welthungerhilfe defines resilience as the ability of people, communities or institutions to recover rapidly from extreme strains and develop strategies to cope with recurring challenges.
Connecting Acute Emergency Assistance and Long-term Strategies
Providing fast and effective emergency assistance makes up about half the work of Welthungerhilfe. But our work is much more effective and efficient if the people affected by a disaster are better prepared. It means that the effects are not as serious or have no or reduced negative influence on their lives.
With this in mind, Welthungerhilfe plans projects that enable people to be better armed for future crises. Precaution is more effective and economical than rehabilitation and reconstruction.
Each euro that Welthungerhilfe uses at an early stage, to avoid emergency situations, is four to five times as effective as funding in the event of an acute disaster. If the vulnerability of people is tackled at its roots, there is a greater chance of liberating them from dependence and poverty in the long-term.
Help for Self-help Strengthens Resilience and Generates Confidence
The approach of ‘Linking relief, rehabilitation and development’ (LRRD) also applies to strengthening resilience and represents a solid ground for sustainable implementation of humanitarian aid measures.
Its success in developing promising prospects is shown in two examples: In Burkina Faso, where drought periods and floods lead again and again to harvest losses, people are learning to master the challenges of nature. Welthungerhilfe started a project to sustainably secure nutrition and income. It distributed resistant/adapted seed, taught innovative cultivation methods and trained, for example, ‘plant doctors’, who advise the smallholders. Now, many enterprises are obtaining surpluses for the first time, and the farmers look confidently to the future.
Promoting Resilience Through Reliable Financing
These successes encourage Welthungerhilfe in the approach that it is expedient in emergency situations not only to provide acute assistance but to think one step ahead and invest in resilience as well. It is therefore important to combine increased integration of resilience strengthening and survival aid with longer-term development cooperation measures.