Session and outcomes
Conflict sensitivity is not a tool but an approach – it is a way to analyse the context so that interventions do not increase the conflict. Adopting a conflict sensitive approach does not mean that the conflict is being addressed - it simply means that there is understanding and awareness of conflict issues in the context in which interventions are being implemented so that unintended consequences are avoided. Conflict sensitivity is not just applicable in violent conflict but also to latent conflict.
Time constraint in response and intervening does not mean that there is no time to listen partners/communities/etc.
Three key steps to apply a conflict sensitive approach are:
- understanding the context;
- understanding the interactions between the interventions and the context;
- Take action and use this understanding to maximise positive impacts and minimise negative ones.
CDA can offer some key lessons: 1. Interventions are never neutral - they are part of the context and therefore influence it; 2. Every context is characterised by connectors and dividers (systems, institutions, actions, symbols, etc.); 3. actions and behaviours are interacting with local context/dynamics; 4. there’s always ways to mitigate the context/negative impacts.
Conflict sensitivity is an approach that has been recently integrated in the EU policy and political frameworks such as the EU Global Strategy and the new EU Consensus on Development (which is also applicable to Member States). As recovery is the time in the development process where development, political and security processes are ongoing at the same time, this is also a critical moment to apply a conflict sensitive approach.
Analysis of the context is not enough – it is the design and the implementation of interventions that ensures the integration of conflict sensitive approaches. To this end, the EU has come up with specific guidance for all EU delegations to ensure that such approach is understood and applied. This includes developing indicators to measure how much conflict sensitivity is included in the interventions and evaluate the interventions once they have been implemented.
A Recovery and Peacebuilding Assessment (RPBA) was very useful to identify the impact and the type of response required in view of the conflict impacts. The assessment helped prioritize interventions and bring necessary financing.
Two big challenges are coordination across all actors involved and ensuring that tension is not built between displaced and host communities. Therefore, it is important to provide livelihoods support to both communities.
Climate change increased the challenge of addressing conflict issues as it impoverishes the availability of natural resources which form the basis of people’s livelihoods.
The conflict-related recovery is an opportunity to build back better – not just infrastructure, but also more resistant livelihoods and more cohesive communities.
The DRM community has a lot to learn from conflict practitioners - this starts with the recognition that disasters happen in contexts of fragility and conflict. Disaster recovery cannot be approached solely in a technical fashion but must recognise the social dynamics, the impact of relief on social relations, etc.
Following the first involvement of the WB in a post-disaster assessment in Turkey in 1999, the WB has evolved its approach to analyze social impact to develop a practical tool on the how to capture the social impact in a compress timeframe via qualitative research. mainly qualitative research that looks at different aspect of recovery.
Myanmar: regular yearly monitoring has been conducted between 2008 and 2013 in the communities most affected by cyclone Nargis. This helped better understand the context/social dynamics and “not to miss” what is generally missed when methods are just using quantitative systems.
Monitoring the progress of interventions is one of the key issues together with listening to people consistently to ensure that communities are involved in decision making so to minimize the negative impact that interventions can have on the relationship between communities and leaders.
Recognizing the importance of ensuring that disaster recovery is conflict sensitive and that disasters do not happen in a political vacuum, UNDP has developed a guide on how to integrate a conflict sensitive approach into PDNAs. Conflict sensitivity has always been a core principle of PDNAs but there was no codified guidance on how to do it until recently. The guide is prescriptive, and it stresses the need to integrate conflict sensitivity from the beginning of the PDNA process, starting with the very design of the assessment.
Governments generally expect the assessment to give dollar figures of what it is needed for the recovery rather than address conflict related issues. Hence, being conflict sensitivity not a technical issue but a political one, it is a challenge ton integrate conflict sensitivity into PDNAs and this needs to be often negotiated with the Governments.
The session did not conclude by drawing specific follow up actions, but some key points are as follows:
- The issue of risk is much more dynamic and fluid, moving away from a reality of risk given simply by disasters and/or conflict but accounting for a variety of other risks (economics, health, etc). Risk should therefore be approached from a resilience angle, taking in consideration all types of shocks that can affect people.
- The DRR community must reach out to conflict prevention specialists to enhance knowledge/capacity of the DRR community to integrate the conflict sensitivity approach into disaster recovery interventions (for example, a start has been the inclusion of a conflict specialist in post-disaster needs assessments - PDNAs) and enhance the reflection on innovative approaches to address recovery in conflict and fragile settings.
- For greater impact, it is necessary to enhance the coordination and integration of the various instruments existing on conflict sensitivity/peacebuilding across various organisations. To this end, the engagement of communities is also crucial to ensure that both macro (government) and micro (community) perspectives are taken into account.