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A 'principled' approach to complex emergencies: Testing a new aid delivery model in the Nuba mountains


Written by Sara Pantuliano

This paper provides an analysis of the Nuba Mountains Programme Advancing Conflict Trans-formation (NMPACT) as an example of an operational response in a complex emergency that innovatively addressed an incipient food security crisis. NMPACT is notable for having brought together an array of actors around a common principled agenda and for being the only operational programme in the Sudan to which both warring parties subscribed during the conflict. The key features of the programme are presented and the main innovative elements are reviewed, including the role of the principles of engagement and the 'political humanitarianism' of NMPACT. The paper looks at how NMPACT broke from traditional externally driven responses to food insecurity, and, drawing on lessons from Operation Lifeline Sudan, adopted an approach that focuses on capacity building, sustainable agriculture and market revitalisation, alongside conflict transformation and peace-building. The limitations of the model are also assessed, and preliminary lessons regarding its replication in other complex emergency contexts are presented.

Sara Pantuliano