USAID/OFDA Economic Recovery and Market Systems Sector Update – October 2013

from US Agency for International Development
Published on 18 Oct 2013

Sector Overview

Natural disasters and conflicts adversely affect local economies by destroying homes and businesses, damaging productive assets, and disrupting transportation and markets. To help communities resume economic activity and rebuild livelihoods, USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) supports economic recovery and market systems (ERMS) in disaster-affected communities. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, USAID/OFDA provided nearly $42 million to support economic recovery activities in 23 countries throughout Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as worldwide and regional interventions.

The third pillar of USAID/OFDA’s mandate is to reduce the economic impact of disasters. ERMS interventions strengthen key market systems and help populations restore livelihoods and purchasing power at the household, local, and regional levels. USAID/OFDA-supported economic recovery programs complement people’s own efforts to recover from a disaster and prevent reliance on continued humanitarian aid.

Ten years of conflict and displacement in Sudan’s Darfur region disrupted markets and eroded the agriculture-based economy, devastating traditional occupations, like farming and livestock herding, and forcing people into unsustainable livelihoods activities, such as petty trade and firewood collection. While the security environment in Darfur remains unpredictable and at least 1.2 million people continue to reside in displacement camps, USAID/OFDA is supporting modest early recovery efforts in limited areas of Darfur where opportunities exist and security conditions allow. USAID/OFDA’s assistance includes initiatives that bolster self-sufficiency, enhance sustainable livelihoods, and ensure communities have access to the basic services necessary to rebuild their lives, including health care, safe drinking water, and sanitation facilities.

In FY 2013, USAID/OFDA provided more than $5.8 million for ERMS programs in Darfur, supporting a diverse range of initiatives that facilitate market access for communities, rehabilitate market systems, support viable value chains, help restore the assets of conflict-affected people, and provide trainings that enhance business and livelihoods skills. USAID/OFDA is supporting the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED) to facilitate immediate market access by rehabilitating a road under a cash-for-work arrangement with local community members, thereby improving transport routes between markets, towns, and isolated communities while injecting cash into the local economy. USAID/OFDA also continued to support the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) to create and nurture sustainable livelihoods opportunities for conflict-affected communities by strengthening and scaling up value chains for agricultural commodities such as honey, groundnuts, and hibiscus. Based on research and analysis of trade patterns and markets, UNDP provides training, materials, and technical assistance to producers and facilitates linkages between producer groups and businesses. UNDP also helps to strengthen market information systems and improve access to financial services to support the value chains.