|Twenty-Sixth International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 1995 - Resolution (International Committee of the Red Cross , 1996, 80 p.)|
Prepared by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
In February 1995, the International Federation, in collaboration with the Danish Red Cross, the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) and DANIDA undertook an examination of a number of recent relief operations to identify those factors which should typify a relief programme that uses a developmental approach to implementation.
Nine key factors were identified. These factors are now being incorporated into the Federations training programmes and disaster response methodology.
I. Building on capacities as well as addressing vulnerabilities: The need to access vulnerabilities is recognized as being important, but relief programmes that deliberately seek out and work with capacities, skills, resources and organizational structures within the disaster survivors, will be more effective than those that assume the survivors are a passive, helpless, recipient community.
II. Identifying the needs and capacities of the diverse groupings of disaster survivors: Developmental relief programmes recognise that the survivor population is made up of many groups with different capacities, vulnerabilities and needs. The relief programme is shaped to address these diverse groups and their capacities as well as their different needs.
III. Participation: Developmental relief programmes deliberately involve disaster survivors in the decision making process which empower them to re-take charge of their lives. Even in particularly difficult situations, such as relief to large-scale displaced populations a beginning may be made by engaging diverse community leaders in the assessment of the situation, and identifying the resources that they have available to cope.
IV. Accountability: In relief programmes, agencies traditionally see themselves as being accountable upwards, towards their headquarters and donors, but they should also practice accountability towards the disaster survivors. At a minimum, information on the planning, execution and expected duration of the relief programme should be openly shared with the programme beneficiaries.
V. Strategies based on the reality of the disaster faced: Relief programmes address many different types of disasters, those triggered by natural events, those which develop slowly over vast areas of a country, those caused by war and economic collapse. Developmental relief programmes adapt their strategies to suit the environment of the disaster rather than relying solely on pre-packaged delivery derived from a model of only one type of disaster.
VI. Decentralized control: A developmental relief programme allows management decisions to be taken as close to the beneficiary population as possible.
VII. Demonstrating a concern for sustaining livelihoods: Developmental relief programmes are concerned with what comes after relief as well as how the relief programme is carried out. They provide assistance that complements rather than competes with the normal means of livelihood of the disaster survivors.
VIII. Building on local institutions: Imposed relief programmes can undermine local structures, often use them without strengthening them and often abandon them after the relief operation. Developmental relief programmes look to work with local institutions and build their capacities to carry on humanitarian work after the need for relief has passed.
IX. Setting sustainable standards services: Relief programmes often set in motion the development of service and welfare systems, in health, education and water provision which will need to carry on after the relief ends. These should be of a standard and provided in a manner which has a realistic chance of being sustained after the relief operation ends.
Overcoming the constraints of existing systems
In between relief operations, aid workers and agencies all agree that they should find ways of doing relief in a more developmental way, but when the crisis hits and decisions have to be made quickly with minimal information, managers shy away from taking the risk of using other than the tried and tested responses.
The international aid system contains many actors, all of whom need to participate in a change process if the end product of the system, relief delivery, is to change. Being committed to finding better ways of providing relief the International Federation makes the following recommendations to implementing agencies, donors and research institutions.
Recommendations to implementing agencies
1. Altering staffing structures and attitudes
In composing relief teams, it should be assured that sufficient expertise is included and responsibility assigned for focusing the relief activities on developmental implementation and maximising utilisation of community capacity. Staff training programmes need to include the concepts of programming relief for development.
2. Programming standards
In order to practice developmental relief, agencies must set themselves high and defensible humanitarian standards. We recommend that as a starting point, agencies subscribe to the standards laid down in the Code of Conduct for The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief.
3. Specialized competence and co-ordination
Large relief programmes attract large numbers of external relief agencies. In order to improve the effectiveness and quality of the services we deliver, we recommend that agencies critically examine their own strengths and seek to develop greater competence, in limited fields if necessary, rather than a breadth of mediocrity in service delivery.
In addition we recommend that agencies recognize the need to balance their right to independence of action against the humanitarian value to be gained through coordination. Agencies should be willing to coordinate when it adds to the greater good of the relief programme.
4. Altering budget structures
We recommend that agencies build into their plans of action and associated budgets the flexibility necessary to address longer term perspectives, building on local capacities as well as addressing vulnerabilities. This requires a change to current budgeting practices.
5. Supporting local people and structures
We recommend that agencies seek to strengthen local capacities by employing local staff, purchasing local materials and trading with local companies. Wherever possible, agencies should work through local humanitarian organisations as partners in planning and implementation, and cooperate with local government structures.
6. Programming for sustainability, disaster prevention and preparedness
Agencies should seek to sustain livelihoods as well as lives. Relief programmes must not undermine the long-term sustainability of the assisted population. We recommend that all relief programming should address the issue of sustainability and disaster preparedness.
7. Consistency of action, policy and messages
We recommend that agencies examine their present policies for disaster response and adapt them to reflect a developmental approach to relief. In addition agencies should ensure that their publicity and advocacy material is consistent with this approach, and that they advocate rigorously for their partner organizations in government and the international community to also address relief in a developmental fashion.
8. Programme reviews
Many relief programmes go on year after year in the same way. We recommend agencies to review programmes annually to identify changes that progressively make more use of local leadership, skills and capacities.
9. Sharing experience with donors and the media
Agencies need to get better at sharing field experience of success and failure with donors and engage in a dialogue about needed policy change. Equally they need to work more effectively with the media to build understanding of the issues and to break down stereotypes such as those of helpless disaster victims.
Recommendations to donors
10. Linking relief and development programming
The present organizational structure and funding mechanisms of many donor institutions reflects the view of relief and development as two divorced activities. We recommend that donor institutions seek ways of promoting dialogue between their relief and development divisions and seek ways of allowing a degree of development funding into relief programmes.
11. Accountability, measuring the quality of relief programmes
Measuring the quality of developmental relief programmes requires a different set of parameters and associated skills from evaluating simple relief delivery. We recommend that donor institutions explore new ways of evaluating and reporting in relation to relief programmes which reflect the attributes of a developmental approach.
12. Support for local structures in relief and disaster preparedness
Working through, enhancing and supporting local structures is central to the developmental approach to relief. We recommend that donor institutions recognize and support the legitimacy of funding local structure strengthening as part of disaster preparedness and relief programmes.
13. Supporting review activities
Promoting new ways of working require an enhanced learning process. We recommend that donor institutions support both national and international relief programme reviews with a view towards promoting developmental relief.
Recommendations to research bodies
14. Development of practical methods of capacity and vulnerability analysis for disaster situations
Developmental relief places greater emphasis on understanding local capacities and vulnerabilities than does needs-driven assistance delivery relief, yet few methodologies exist to help assess these features. We recommend that research bodies develop methods of capacity and vulnerability analysis which are appropriate for relief situations, by drawing upon existing experience.
15. Development of methods for evaluating the quality of the relief process
Measuring and evaluating the quality of developmental relief programmes requires a different set of parameters and associated skills from evaluating simple relief delivery. Few methodologies have been developed to allow such appropriate evaluations to take place. We recommend that research bodies develop such evaluation techniques, building on existing experiences and in close collaboration with implementing agencies and donor institutions.
16. Developing accountability systems
Present relief accountability systems stress financial reporting supported by process descriptive narrative. We recommend that research bodies assist in the development of more holistic reporting systems which provide information on features of relief programmes additional to quantitative delivery information, i.e. capacity building, participation, accountability to the disaster survivors.
17. Impact evaluation of international relief on local organizations
Many implementing agencies are concerned with the negative impact major relief programmes have on local institutions, yet little systematic documentation and research have been done in this area. We recommend that research bodies be commissioned to carry out such research.
18. Popularizing the results of research
Good research has effect only if it gets into the hands of the implementors. We recommend that the results of the research mentioned above be popularized through publications, meetings and other methods targeted at the implementing and donor agencies.