Resilience and resilient livelihoods are becoming a focus of humanitarian and development agencies seeking to address the underlying fragilities that turn shocks and stresses into humanitarian crises. It is not clear what makes people resilient in protracted crises and how resilience can be ‘built’.
Many assistance programmes designed to build the material assets of households and communities also claim to be building resilience. However, resilience goes well beyond possession of material assets, and depends on the interplay of factors including access to power structures, social organisation, governance and the nature and role of institutions in a society. Previous HPG research on humanitarian assistance and livelihoods has shown that the importance of the non-material aspects of livelihoods is underestimated, especially by humanitarian actors.
There is also little evidence about the actual impact that humanitarian assistance has – whether from different interventions themselves or more indirectly from the presence and the ways of working of external agencies.
HPG has become involved with several agencies on their thinking on resilience and the project will specifically look at resilience framework as well as conceptual analysis of resilience and structural factors that constrain people's actions and choices. The project will also analyse the impact of the drive to include resilience-building in reconstruction in three crises, Aceh, Myanmar and Haiti.