3.6 Social and economic considerations
Of particular relevance to the discussion will be the cultural
practices of the community with which the agency is working. These are mainly
highlighted in hygiene practices and, once again, the reader should use his/her
own knowledge of local circumstances to adapt interventions accordingly.
Of relevance to all components of emergency programmes is the
local, social and economic context in which the programme is taking place. Large
influxes of displaced people can have a significant effect on local economies.
Small trade items can generate a great deal of activity. Conversely, large
numbers in receipt of food aid can have a significant effect on local food
prices as they will often sell some of their ration in order to take part in the
cash economy. Staples can drop dramatically in value. This can have disastrous
consequences for the local residents, and can cause serious tension between the
two populations, with an effect on all agencies involved with the provision of
Problems can also arise when the level of service being offered
to displaced people is better than that received by locals. This applies
particularly to the provision of water in regions where water is scarce.
Wherever possible, attempts should be made to make provision for the local use
of any new installations. When this is not possible efforts should be made to
assist the resident populations as well as the incomers. This is not only in the
interest of good relations between the two communities, but also because it is
appropriate to benefit the locality for the long as well as the short term.
Money is made available during emergencies, and many opportunities therefore
exist to add value to local livelihoods a well as within refugee camps. In 1993
UNICEF did just this in north-east Kenya when it rehabilitated a number of local
borehole supplies around Somali refugee camps; this helped to reduce tensions
between the local population and the refugees.
Where refugees are amongst their own ethnic grouping, an
inordinate strain will probably be placed upon local coping mechanisms. This
needs to be recognised and programmes designed not only to provide a service to
the displaced populations but also to reinforce local capacity to cope with the
additional people. Water and sanitation programmes can play a large part here by
helping to provide a better environment for the whole