Resilience programming among nongovernmental organizations: Lessons for policymakers

Timothy R. Frankenberger, Mark A. Constas, Suzanne Nelson, Laurie Starr
food policy report

This food policy report reviews resilience processes, activities, and outcomes by examining a number of case studies of initiatives by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to enhance resilience capacity, and draws implications for policymakers and other stakeholders looking to strengthen resilience.

Main findings 

Resilience building relies on integrated programming—a cross-sectoral approach with a long-term commitment to improving the three critical capacities: absorptive capacity (disaster risk management), adaptive capacity (longer-term livelihood investments), and transformative capacity (improved governance and enabling conditions). Programs with an integrated approach ensure that partners and sectors work together to address key leverage points and adopt complementary, synergistic strategies to promote resilience; such programs emphasize cross-sectoral programming supports and protects a core programming focus (for example, food security, poverty, peace building), ultimately strengthening resilience.

Policy implications

There are a number of steps that NGOs can focus on to improve resilience programming:

  • Reemphasizing the key programming themes that contribute to good resilience programming, such as comprehensive assessment and holistic problem analysis
  • Getting better at using a theory of change to inform resilience programming
  • Collaborating in a more strategic way with other development actors to address transformative capacity
  • Using a program approach to commit to a given region for an extended period of time
  • Getting better at measurement through investment in capacity
  • Developing regional strategies to align resources and staffing to regional contextual issues

Tables and Figures iv
Executive Summary v
A Shift in Policy Debate 1
A Framework for Understanding Resilience 2
Programming 5
Opportunities 24
Conclusions/Recommendations 29
Notes 31
References 32
About the Authors 37