Resilience: Why does it matter to the humanitarian community? Sahel as a case study
The humanitarian caseload continues to remain large in the Sahel due to a combination of both acute and chronic factors such as climate change, conflict and population growth. Some 16 million people across the region are conservatively projected to be at risk for 2014.1 These numbers are all the more concerning given the absence, for a second year running, of extreme weather events. Fortunately, humanitarian agencies are responding increasingly successfully to the caseload. Donors too continue to respond generously to the financing needs. And Governments in the region are increasingly engaged in policies to target the most vulnerable communities. Yet we have not started sustainably reversing the overall growth in this humanitarian caseload and millions of households are becoming progressively less resilient as new crises hit faster than they can recover from the last one. Humanitarian actors can do more to build resilience and reduce the future humanitarian case load. The new 3-year Sahel Humanitarian Response Plan 2014-2016 will contain a strong resilience building theme. Much earlier response to warning indicators in order to protect the erosion of coping capacities is at the heart of this strategy. Reducing the length of recovery times and more transfer of knowledge and know-how to local actors are other important components. Chronic problems need structural solutions however and the most influential actors on the future humanitarian case-load are, ultimately, Governments and their development partners. Beyond saving lives and bolstering the coping capacity of the households with whom we are working therefore, a new mission for the humanitarian community in the Sahel is to engage, partner with, and influence, these development actors much more systematically than in the past in order to build greater resilience of this fragile community. A number of fault lines will need to be bridged in order to deliver such an integrated response.