10.9 Trade-offs

10.9.1 Delivering assistance through host nation vs. international capacity.800 In the emergency phase, conflict-affected populations may need immediate survival assistance (water, food, shelter, and health services) that only international actors are equipped to deliver. Delivering aid through international organizations, however, can promote a culture of dependency and thwart the development of host nation capacity if sustained for an extended period of time. To minimize this impact, balance the demand to meet emergency survival needs with opportunities to promote host nation capacity.

10.9.2 Meeting immediate survival needs vs. instability.801 While there may be an urgency to meet immediate survival needs, humanitarian assistance can be captured by insurgents or rebel groups and redirected to support those engaged in the conflict. Also, relief, if directed more toward families of combatants, can create perceptions of inequity from victims of the conflict and create tensions.802 Plan relief efforts carefully and monitor delivery to mitigate potential negative consequences.

10.9.3 Responsibility to protect vs. safety of relief workers. The humanitarian crisis in a war-torn country may be severe, demanding urgent delivery of basic needs for survival. But the severity of a crisis can also mean that the security situation in the country or region is very untenable and unpredictable, placing relief workers at great risk.803 Ensure adequate security for staff workers who must go into danger zones to provide relief.

10.9.4 Rapid return of displaced populations vs. instability.804 Having displaced populations return to their homes creates a positive sign for the prospects of peace. However, encouraging large populations to return without proper groundwork can simply create greater problems, including further internal displacement. Prepare receiving communities for the influx, provide security guarantees, establish property dispute mechanisms, and offer economic and humanitarian assistance to prevent instability.

10.9.5 Giving property to their original owners vs. existing occupants. Returning property back to pre-conflict owners may be ideal and just, but doing so may simply displace existing occupants who sought shelter in the property during the conflict. Evicting large numbers of tenants, particularly in a country where property ownership laws are ambiguous, can be very destabilizing. Property dispute mechanisms, compensation arrangements, and other means to address this recurring trade-off should be planned for in advance.

10.9.6 Pursuing reconciliation vs. stability. In a society emerging from violent conflict, it can be tempting to forget the past, as remembering runs the risk of reigniting old tensions. But depending on the society, sustainable resolution of the conflict may require that the population actively seek reconciliation.805 Plan efforts carefully and with great sensitivity to timing, broad participation, and the need for resourcing and sustainability of these complex reconciliation processes.

10.9.7 Restorative vs. retributive justice. Restorative justice programs focus on restoring relations between the victim and the perpetrator, but they may fall short of punishing war criminals and human rights violators. Retributive justice programs hold these criminals accountable for their actions, but do not necessarily strengthen the community’s social bonds, which can cause problems down the road. Balance these approaches based on the local environment and their potential for supporting long-term stability.

10.10 Gaps and Challenges

10.10.1 Protection of humanitarian space. In today’s environments, humanitarian actors often find themselves operating in the same space with intervening military forces conducting S&R activities. This can place relief workers in jeopardy when their actions are no longer perceived to be independent from the military or impartial with regard to assistance. Pay close attention to guidelines to help mitigate the negative consequences of this recurring challenge affecting humanitarian space.806

10.10.2 Aid effectiveness. While development aid to peaceful countries is frequently monitored and evaluated, similar mechanisms to assess the effectiveness of aid in societies emerging from violent conflict are lacking.807 A massive waste of resources, inappropriate aid programs, and a failure to achieve timely results are hallmarks of many S&R missions. Monitoring and evaluation must be part of planning and should be resourced adequately to ensure that aid is benefiting stabilization and reconstruction.

10.10.3 Transition from relief to development activities. A major S&R challenge involves facilitating a smooth transition from relief activities focused on short-term survival needs to development activities that promote long-term growth. Better coherence, coordination, and collaboration, between relief and development strategies can ensure a seamless transition between the communities of practice. This is particularly true in the education sector, where a variety of humanitarian and development programs occurs simultaneously.808

10.10.4 Emergency education. Education is still most commonly viewed as a development or reconstruction issue, which can prevent children in emergency situations from receiving education for extended periods of time.809 If emergency education is not provided early on, the delay can cause irreparable damage to the rebuilding of lives an livelihoods. Emergency international standby capacity, already inadequate, needs to be developed as a priority.810 Plans for secondary and tertiary education, which are critical for long-term social and economic development, should be included as part of an emergency education strategy.

10.10.5 Youth in recovery efforts. While there is recognition that youth should be engaged rapidly and early on in these environments, few programs properly address their needs. Neglecting youth populations can also have negative consequences for stability when youth who are unemployed or not in school join criminal gangs or militias, turn to prostitution and trafficking, or engage in other illicit activities. Develop practical programs that harness and develop the potential of this population and include them in efforts to rebuild their country.811

10.10.6 Long-term development needs of returnees. The host nation and the international community often consider the return of the displaced the end goal. The systematic failure to incorporate the needs of the returnees in any strategic development plan leaves them in deprived conditions for long periods of time and undermines recovery.812 Programs to address the need of returnees to have productive livelihoods and receive essential services are needed.

10.10.7 Effective property laws. Individuals may not have formal land titles or documentation, but may assert customary or traditional rights to certain properties. Property resolution processes raise complex questions that bring with them risks of increased instability.813 Figuring out how to create, reform, and/or enforce property laws quickly and legitimately is a key S&R job.

10.10.8 Mental health needs of conflict-affected populations. The predominant focus of health care services for refugees, IDPs, and other conflict-affected populations has been nutrition, disease prevention, maternal and child health, or the management of infectious diseases. Resources and attention for mental health and psychological support, however, are still severely lacking.814