[x] Close

Download Link

Keep up with SEEP!

Sign up for our email list and you'll be the first to know about latest news, blog posts, events & new worldwide initiatives from SEEP and its members

Blog Image

Promoting Inclusive Markets and Financial Systems

< back to Blog Main

Next Generation Resilience for Vulnerable Communities

by on Mar 12, 2014  |  posted in Vulnerable Populations  |  1 Comment
SEEP would like to thank International Business and Technical Consultants (IBTCI) and American University for organizing the symposium “Forging Resilience,” which built on the roundtable discussion “Next Generation Resilience,” a collaboration of the Woodrow Wilson Center, World Vision and the Resilience Learning Consortium. The following is a brief summary of key points raised during the symposium, one that we hope will stimulate further discussion on this intriguing concept that has the potential of bridging the divide between humanitarian assistance and development. Following Chatham House rules ideas are not identified with a particular speaker or institution.

A resilience agenda is gaining undeniable clout within the economic development community. Resilience as a unifying concept has the potential of bringing long overdue reforms to the sector. In terms of blending funding streams together it can serve as a platform for better coordination, particularly at the field mission or country level.  According to the Humanitarian Policy Group the debate on resilience has raised important questions around the kind of support that is needed and how best to deliver it.  The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published a fact sheet titled “What does Resilience mean for donors,” pointing out that resilience is a cross-donor effort to bring together programming for humanitarian assistance, stabilization, climate change adaptation and economic development. Likewise, the recently published USAID Program Guidance on Resilience[1] shows how USAID is looking to integrate development and humanitarian assistance programs. As the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) calls it, resilience is a rallying point.

As a concept, resilience adds value by creating a shared space to change the way we work and respond to common problems of vulnerable populations. Furthermore, it provides a new lens: our funding to populations in distress should be responsive to a complex and changing reality and supportive of positive coping strategies.

According to donor representatives at the symposium, most major donors have finally given resilience their seal of approval, buying in to the concept unlike the “graveyard of acronyms that preceded it,” as one representative described. Building on this momentum, donors feel the need to institutionalize resilience in their organizational structures.

Still, questions were raised as to whether senior officials in congress would earmark funds for a concept they don’t fully understand. Critics expressed that the definition of resilience is so broad that it can mean anything and everything: a fuzzy concept at risk of slipping away as another development fad. Resilience is sometimes mocked as a buzzword and is a concept that is not even translatable from English into the twenty top languages in the world.

Most interestingly, resilience as an umbrella concept desires to break with traditional sectoral approaches resembling what was once the promise of integrated rural development in the 1970s. Resilience is a systemic approach about how communities cope, and make choices. Resilience seeks to introduce complexity and systems thinking into development programming, to make it more flexible and adaptable, supportive of local responses. More importantly it seeks to break silos.

The symposium led to a great discussion and provided examples of innovative approaches on the ground, such as the Rural Resilience Initiative led by OXFAM and World Food Program and World Vision’s Integrating Very Poor Producers into Value Chains field guide. The symposium was peppered with examples of health, nutrition, value chains, disability, crisis, and conflict.

However, one participant noted that we must be more systematic in discussions of resilience. Drawing out differences between conflict, protracted crisis and complex emergencies, questions were raised as to whether resilience is applicable to any context. Is it equally valid in the Horn of Africa, where the concept originated, as with host communities of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey? In terms of programming options, would cash transfers to refugees in Kenya, micro-insurance for pastoralists in Ethiopia, or alternatives to traditional refugee camp settings through rental assistance all be examples of resilience programming?

As we continue this dialogue, there are five key questions to keep in mind, as proposed at the roundtable discussion “Next Generation Resilience” of December 2013:
  1. How does thinking in terms of systems change what we actually do?
  2. How can we better coordinate across sectors?
  3. How can we scale up existing resilience programs when context is essential?
  4. How can resilience to shocks be operationalized and scaled?
  5. How and when do we transition from development?
The SEEP Network is keen to engage its members, particularly  those involved in the Resilience Learning Consortium, to join SEEP in its ongoing discussions as part of the Strengthening the Economic Potential of the Ultra Poor  (STEP UP) initiative to share and apply lessons from effective economic strengthening practices to reduce poverty in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.


[1] USAID defines resilience as is the ability of people, households, communities, countries, and systems to mitigate, adapt to and recover from shocks and stresses in a manner that reduces chronic vulnerability

1 Comment

[…] A resilience agenda is gaining undeniable clout within the economic development community. Resilience as a unifying concept has the potential of bringing long overdue reforms to the sector. In terms of blending funding streams together it can serve as a platform for better coordination, particularly at the field mission or country level.  According to the Humanitarian Policy Group the debate on resilience has raised important questions around the kind of support that is needed and how best to deliver it… […]

Get a photo next to your comment by visiting Gravatar.com & uploading a photo that links to your email address.

Post a Comment

All fields are required, unless noted.
We will never share or sell your email address.
Get our e-newsletter The Monthly Networker & you'll be the first to know about latest news, blog posts, events & new worldwide initiatives.

Like Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter RSS Feed
© Copyright 2017 SEEP Network. All Rights Reserved