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Cracking the Code: Enhancing Emergency Response & Resilience in Complex Crises


About this resource

Resource type:Research, reports and studies
Keywords:Conflict, violence & peace, Development & humanitarian aid, Disaster preparedness, resilience and risk reduction
Countries:DRC, Lebanon, Syria, Uganda
Agency:Mercy Corps
Author(s):Dempsey, B. et al.
Date published:September 2015

In 2015 and 2016 the international community will attempt to reshape how it helps the poorest people in the world and those most vulnerable to conflict and disaster. The new Sustainable Development Goals, launched in September, will be followed in May 2016 by the first ever World Humanitarian Summit. These are rare moments to change the way the world helps those most in need. This paper is a contribution from Mercy Corps to these debates. It is based on five case studies that outline Mercy Corps’ particular experience of working in conflict-affected and fragile states around the world.

In this paper it is argued that the existing aid architecture is not designed to tackle the underlying problems of 21st-century fragile states. Designed in the 20th century, the current system embeds a separation of short-term humanitarian approaches from long-term development; it is too centralized and top down; it is overly focused on the UN; it is too inflexible.

The case studies have been chosen to illustrate a spectrum of the fragile contexts in which Mercy Corps works, each raising different questions for the international humanitarian and development sector: a hot conflict in Syria, a refugee crisis in Lebanon, a protracted conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, development amid vulnerability in Uganda and the key sector of financial services. In each case Mercy Corps makes recommendations specific to the case study before drawing on all of them to propose recommendations for how the system overall should be reformed to improve approaches to conflicts and fragile states.

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