20 February 2013

Getting Mali Right While it's in the Spotlight

While France's effort to liberate northern Mali continues, the recurrent challenges faced by the country give reason to push forward while the world's attention remains on the West African country, says Mercy Corps' Jeremy Konyndyk in the Guardian.
We must also rethink the role of aid in Mali. The humanitarian crisis persists because of what William Garvelink, former US ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has called a "resilience deficit". As serious droughts and economic shocks hit more frequently, communities have less time to recover; they lose more ground with each subsequent shock.
That change comes in part through altering donor goals and ensuring security, continues Konyndyk.
A different approach is needed. Donors including the UK (pdf) and US governments are piloting resilience-oriented aid, which mixes elements of the relief and development toolkits to help communities anticipate and adapt to shocks. Such initiatives are making headway under similar circumstances in the Horn of Africa. Yet most aid to Mali remains locked in humanitarian or development silos. UK, US and other donors must shift gears to focus on resilience, starting now.

Even the most effective, thoughtful aid strategy will not make progress without peace and security. The planned UN peacekeeping force will be given the task of restoring security, but there are major questions about its mission and capacity.