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From Relief to Food Security? The challenges of programming for agricultural rehabilitation

Working papers

This paper provides a broad overview of current programming approaches and ongoing debates relating to agricultural rehabilitation, focusing particularly on seeds and tools interventions, institutional capacity-building, and recent shifts towards market-, livelihoods- and rights-based approaches. Existing research and evaluations illustrate the discrepancies between academic rhetoric and programming reality, and problems in conceptualising transitions or linkages between relief and development programming modes. The lack of evaluations that measure the impact of interventions does little to help in developing more effective programming options.
The controversial notion of sustainability within agricultural rehabilitation is highlighted; although sustainability is a key programming objective of development interventions, it is incompatible with relief interventions. A major, unresolved question in situating rehabilitation in relief and/or development paradigms is what to do about humanitarian principles. The need for a framework to ensure that agricultural rehabilitation interventions are principled in relation to conflict and post-conflict dynamics is vital.
Although the paper raises more questions than answers, it is perhaps through a closer examination of the interface between social protection and the humanitarian agenda that unproductive debates on linking relief and development can be moved forward.
The material presented in the paper is drawn from the inception report of an ongoing ODI-FAO-ICRISAT research project, ‘The changing roles of agricultural rehabilitation: linking relief, development and support to rural livelihoods’, which aims to explore the issues raised here.

Catherine Longley, Ian Christoplos and Tom Slaymaker