Rebuilding after Emergencies and Crises

Source: 1997 Alison Slack/IFPRI
Sorghum plant hit by drought in Niger

Background

Developing countries are frequently confronted with emergencies such as natural disasters, civil wars, financial crises and other social and political conflicts. These emergencies cause severe losses in social and productive assets, the dislocation of people, and enormous damages in infrastructure, resulting in the long term stagnation of economic growth and the deterioration of overall social development.

The poor are especially vulnerable to crisis-induced shocks which can result in lower real incomes due to the loss of crops and livestock, increasing unemployment, lower wages and higher prices, especially for food. Poor households also have few or no savings and a small asset base and are therefore most vulnerable to risks.

Emergencies are also linked to governance challenges through a vicious cycle. Countries with poor governance and policies are more likely to end up with emergencies such as civil wars and financial crises. Their governance structures and policy-making capacity further deteriorate as a consequence of such emergencies, thereby compromising their already weak capacity to cope with crises and increasing the likelihood of future crises.

To avoid this vicious cycle, post-emergency reconstruction is critical within the development process. Post-emergency reconstruction can also offer new opportunities for development, particularly for agricultural and rural growth. Next to emergency aid and the rebuilding of essential physical infrastructure, special attention needs to be paid to policies, investments and interventions that facilitate the recovery of economic growth, particularly agricultural and rural growth, and to assist the poor and the vulnerable to reduce the risk of future shocks, mitigate their impact and cope with the aftermath.

The magnitude and severity of conventional as well as emerging and new types of shocks -- such as armed conflicts and their consequences (e.g. refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs)), increased frequency of natural disasters (e.g. tsunami, floods, earthquakes), rising food and fuel prices, and financial crisis – calls for a comprehensive and integrated approach. However, there are knowledge gaps regarding appropriate country-specific post-emergency strategies and interventions that take these complexities into account. Moreover, there are knowledge gaps regarding the specific requirements of rebuilding the agricultural sector, on which most of the poor depend.

Objectives

To support domestic and international efforts on post-emergency reconstruction, IFPRI’s research program on rebuilding after emergencies and crises focuses on the following three research areas:

  1. Providing social protection for poor and vulnerable population groups in a timely and cost-effective manner after emergencies and crises,
  2. Rebuilding and strengthening the capacity in formulating national strategies, policies and programs to recover from emergencies, reduce poverty and promote economic growth in the long run,
  3. Strengthening the organization, management, and governance of agriculture and rural development actors, and rebuilding national agricultural innovation systems.