Hero image description: Farmers walk tens of kilometers to search for pastures in Guidimakha, a pastoral area with adverse climatic conditions, facing persistent poverty, high rates of food insecurity and shortfalls in agricultural production.
Image credit:Sylvain Cherkaoui/DFID/ECHO/ACF
Image license:CC BY-ND 2.0
Most people who need to contribute to supporting resilience in the Sahel do not use the label ‘resilience’ for their work. Creating the policies and investments needed is a huge and collective endeavour, involving economists, agricultural scientists, sociologists, market and health specialists, experts in social protection and humanitarian action, and many others. Each national government is responsible for the vision of what would be a sustainable economy and viable livelihoods in their country. A common language is needed for policy-makers across the different sectors to understand how different contributions combine and what should be prioritised. The current resilience discourse is highly insular and is preventing communication with all the efforts to build resilience that do not use that label. The dominance of resilience-speak has also divorced the resilience sector from the real world in several critical ways. The problem identification (‘more droughts, more vulnerability’) does not relate to the facts; the problem analysis is disconnected from concrete issues in people’s lives; and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) in resilience language is preventing lessons being learned about what actually helps people. Although investments in resilience are promoted as a way of reducing future humanitarian need, in practice the two exist in different silos with no common points of reference, metrics or language. Resilience frameworks and resilience lenses are not the problem. They have a lot to contribute, but they have to be used in radically different ways. They need to be put at the service of collective efforts to improve people’s lives, rather than dictating the terms of the efforts of a discrete resilience clique.