New Ideas in the Transition from Relief to Development | Wilson Center

New Ideas in the Transition from Relief to Development

Event Co-sponsors

Samuel Nyambi, UN Resident Coordinator, UN Humanitarian Coordinator and the UNDP Resident Representative in Ethiopia;
Abou Moussa, UN lead representative of the Peace-Building Office in Liberia; Herbert M'Cleod, Director of the Operations Support Group (OSG) in Sierra Leone; and Simon Nhonga, UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator in Eritrea

As part of the United Nation's consolidated appeal to help countries in conflict, Nyambi, Moussa, M'Cleod and Nhonga provided their perspectives on the challenges involved in facilitating the transition between emergency assistance and longer term development.

Nyambi discussed the difficulties in defining the differences between transition, recovery and the continuum from relief to development. He referenced the effectiveness of high-level donor responses to divert the drought crisis in Ethiopia this year and placed emphasis on the process of foreseeing, foretelling and forestalling crisis in order to save lives. Nyambi stressed the importance of the vulnerability index, of scenario building techniques and of an enabling policy environment in the transition to development. He recognized the detrimental effects of relief dependency syndrome, humanitarian funding limitations, and the absence of a policy environment that takes into account vulnerability to disaster, as well as other challenges such as HIV/AIDS, poverty and poor governance. Consequently, he identified non-food interventions and alternative uses for food aid as means through which to meet development needs.

Moussa addressed the political environments that define countries emerging from conflict and stressed the need for development initiatives to focus on human rights issues. Referencing his experience in Liberia, Moussa detailed the human rights abuses, intolerance and suppression that led to violence and humanitarian crises. He argued that countries torn by violence lack the funds, the internal structures, the security and the economic activity needed to initiate the transition to development. As a result, he advocates a change in the UN attitude towards transitioning governments, specifically, a removal of economic sanctions and the deployment of the promised 15,000 UN troops in Liberia.

M'Cloud appealed for international attention to address preventative methods of alleviating human suffering. By so doing, he emphasized the need for planning and analysis of the political infrastructure of transitional states. The DRC does not lack natural resources; rather, it lacks the internal structure and institutions needed for long-term success. The challenge, M'Cloud argued, is to determine what kinds of structures, commercial arrangements and institutions are needed to facilitate development. He emphasized the need to create the conditions for good governance advocating a coordinated approach that works closely with nationals, eliminates the disconnect between national politics and community-level demands, and educates people regarding their rights.

Nhonga reflected on the situation in Eritrea. He noted that while the current crisis is the drought, years of war have a lingering impact that impedes the ability of the country to respond to the environmental crisis. Nhongo spoke about the need for repatriation, rehabilitation, reconstruction and reintegration. He also introduced and circulated the summary of the "Integrated Recovery Program" designed to fill the gap between relief and reconstruction effort. Nhongo mentioned that he believes the program can serve as an adaptable model for better dovetailing short-term humanitarian efforts and long-term development efforts.

The participants addressed several questions concerning the role of the United Nations in its pursuit of increased coordination and analysis of conflict situations, protection concerns, gender issues, and transitional justice.