Mercy Corps is committed to finding sustainable, long-term solutions to eradicating extreme poverty. Our resilience agenda seeks to build up the capacity of communities prone to recurrent shocks and stresses – like yearly floods or droughts. But there is no silver bullet.
Mercy Corps recognizes that communities are part of complex ecosystems. We conduct deep analyses to understand those systems and identify where vulnerabilities lie.
We then serve as a facilitator, working along the relief to resilience spectrum; strengthening linkages within communities so that people are prepared to respond the next time they experience a sudden ‘shock’.
Mercy Corps is also working to ensure that resilience is part of the broader humanitarian and development agenda so vulnerable communities are equipped with the tools they need to respond to shocks when they strike, or ideally, prevent them from happening wherever possible.
To best support this work, donors and the development community writ large need to make dramatic changes in how they operate.
They must adjust their funding mechanisms to allow for more flexibility, including longer term funding, adaptive management and crisis modifiers, among other measures, to make sure emergency and development activities are better integrated allowing communities to seamlessly build back better after natural disasters or other crises.
Even with the same communities and cultures, different groups of people experience shocks in a wide-variety of ways.
In the Sahel region of West Africa, Mercy Corps conducted research which concluded that gender differences and the unique needs of women, girls, boys and men, must be taken into consideration when programming for resilience.
In the Sahel, for example, women reduce the amount they eat so their children and husbands will have enough. Smaller livestock, typically owned by women and youth, are sold first in hard times.
In Mali, for example, in lean times older girls report “dating” multiple men to get money and gifts (such as food).