UNDP: Early Recovery is Critical for Gains of Humanitarian Action to be Sustainable

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Bennett Oghifo

Early recovery is critical in allowing the gains of the on-going humanitarian action to be more sustainable, as it provides a foundation for resilience, and ensures continuity towards longer-term development objectives.

Country Director, United Nations Development Programme, Dr. Pa LaminBeyai stated this at the launch of UNDP Livelihoods & Economic Recovery Assessment Report for the North East, recently.
Beyai said, “It is for this reason that we at UNDP are supporting the early recovery agenda through our coordination role at the country level and through our programming approach.”
According to him, “Early Recovery is an approach that encourages humanitarian response to emphasise the importance of re-building community capacity in the midst of a crisis, avoiding dependency, increasing the resilience of affected communities, and looking to solve long standing problems that may have contributed to the crisis in the first place.

“We therefore conducted a livelihood assessment with the aim of gaining systematic and representative information on the socioeconomic situation of the local population, of returnees and the Internally Displaced People (IDPs) settled in host communities. This has given us an impression of the conditions of the affected populations in Adamawa, Borno, Gombe and Yobe states.

The assessment, he said revealed the complexities of the hyper local context of each of the 8 Local Government Areas (LGAs) and the 24 assessed Wards and the impact of the conflict for the livelihoods of urban and rural households in the region.

The assessment report also demonstrated the diversity of the socio-economic conditions, their coping strategies, as well as the needs and context specific priorities of households.

He said when a community or country is hit with a crisis, immediate response was required to save lives. Affected communities would usually lose their properties and have their livelihoods disrupted. “This is what has happened to the North East region of this country; especially in Borno State.”

He said for decades now, within the humanitarian and development actors, there is growing recognition of the important role Early Recovery plays when responding to a humanitarian situation.

“In UNDP, we believe that focus on recovery and recovery planning after a crisis should begin as early as possible, and where possible, even prior to a crisis. As you may know already, before a crisis, our development perspective focuses on capacity development and national ownership which helps ensure that communities and people are more resilient to recurring and/or predictable crises, and are better prepared to ‘weather the storm’ of a pending crisis and maintain normality to the degree possible throughout the worst of the crisis.”

He said “Just as emergency relief activities are crucial to saving lives by responding to the most urgent human needs, integrating an early recovery approach within humanitarian operations is crucial to the first efforts of a community to recover. It prepares the ground for an effective ‘exit strategy’ for humanitarian actors and contributes to ‘durable solutions’ by establishing the base on which nationally-led development occurs after a crisis.”

For people hit with a crisis to move from humanitarian relief to self-sustaining development, he said a set of programmatic actions focusing on long-term conditions of victims should be taken into account.

“We all know the extent to which the insurgency in the North East has impacted on the people of the region. People’s livelihoods have been disrupted and properties damaged. As you are aware, there is an on-going humanitarian response in the North East, especially in Borno State, the epicenter of the crisis.”