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Disaster Recovery in Conflict Contexts: Thematic Case Study for the Disaster Recovery Framework Guide

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The already difficult task of undertaking a disaster recovery is made more problematic when a disaster occurs within a conflict affected context. The allocation of resources towards recovery can become highly politicized and exacerbate pre-existing social tensions between groups, leading to criticism of legitimacy and undermine the recovery effort. The conflict context creates a causal loop between the recovery effort and the conflict where one influences the other, or both simultaneously exert influence on each other. The design and implementation of a recovery effort are likely to be heavily influenced by the conflict. However, it is equally likely that the inverse will occur, with the recovery effort affecting the dynamics of the conflict itself. Negotiating these concerns calls for utilizing a recovery framework as outlined in the Disaster Recovery Framework (DRF) Guide with special attention paid towards social inclusion principles to reduce potential risks.

In a conflict context, the guidelines for a recovery framework at its core remain centered on the holistic approach examining the four components advocated in the DRF Guide. These components are:

(a) policy framework and vision for recovery; (b) institutional frameworks; (c) recovery financing; and (d) recovery implementation and monitoring. Where the conflict context differs is the emphasis on the utilization of the principles of impartiality, empowerment, gender, and ‘do no harm’ throughout the DRF to mitigate the risk of negative social impacts in the recovery effort. These principles are important in any natural disaster context as well, but become critical in implementing recovery for disasters within a conflict context where they must be followed to ensure equity across conflict and disaster victims.

This document does not go into the detail of the DRF guide but rather focuses on how recovery frameworks must be informed within a disaster-conflict nexus. At a structural level, a recovery framework for disasters in a conflict context resembles other disaster recovery frameworks. However, that should not overshadow the critical need for conflict sensitivity through a nuanced consideration of the local political context, the two-way relationship between intervention/action and conflict, and how both will inform the recovery effort. How well conflict sensitivity is incorporated in a recovery framework depends on how it achieves this two part criteria:

  1. Avoid, to as great an extent as possible, having a negative impact.

  2. Maximize the positive impact on conflict dynamics through strengthening conflict prevention, structural stability, and peace-building.

Disaster risk reduction and conflict prevention measures should occur together, and a “one-size-fitsall” model does not exist for recovery frameworks in general, especially in a conflict context. The process of constructing a disaster recovery framework needs to be highly context specific, and it may use the window of opportunity created by the disaster to contribute to peace-building.
In this annex a selection of risk reduction principles are defined, followed by case studies as they pertain to the four pillars of a DRF. Final recommendations and practical considerations for implementation of a disaster recovery framework in a conflict context are also included. The practical considerations section includes key questions that will assist readers in scoping the interface of disasters and conflict.