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Email Shannon Alexander, Mercy Corps' Director of Resilience, Governance and Partnerships, at


Resilience is not new in the field of international development. But a number of recent events and trends — such as the 2008-09 financial, food and fuel crisis, and the protracted hunger crises in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel — have brought it to the forefront of development thinking.

As practitioners we are challenged to apply a more complex, forward-thinking systems approach to the problems faced by the communities where we work.

Working in some of the world’s toughest places, resilience has long been at the heart of Mercy Corps’ work. Our long-standing Vision for Change is a systems framework and recognizes the importance of engaging stakeholders at multiple levels of society in the development process.

We respond to humanitarian crises with an eye to the long term: our relief programs rapidly progress to recovery, helping families and communities build resilience so that they become less vulnerable to shocks and stresses. We design interventions which are community-led, market-driven and promote good governance, critical tenets of sustainable relief and development and key for resilience.

Peacebuilding and conflict management strategies feature in our strongest resilience programming (see our report from Ethiopia, From Conflict to Coping).

Our commitment to sound measurement and analysis of our programmatic impact means that we build into our work the tools and processes to highlight a set of metrics that helps us to understand progress towards achieving our mission. Resilience is embedded in these metrics, including an indicator that allows countries to measure community resilience.

Finally, our commitment to work in fragile places and countries in transition means that we are working precisely in those places where transformative resilience has the most potential because traditional systems are stressed to the breaking point.

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