Published Date: Jan 17, 2012
CONFLICT SENSITIVITY VITAL FOR HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE
Humanitarian assistance without conflict sensitivity can cause or aggravate tensions and conflicts and may end up doing more harm than good.
This was said by experts during the launch of research study `Applying conflict sensitivity in emergency response: current practices and way forward` jointly organised by CARE International and Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Monday.
The study, which was recently conducted by CARE International, is based on field research in Haiti, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and maps the current state of conflict-sensitive approaches (CSA) in emergencies.
The study identifies good practices, gaps and ways to integrate CSA across emergency programming cycle.
The study concludes there are clear opportunities for synergy between conflict sensitivity integration and the emergency capacitybuilding initiatives currently ongoing within many agencies and puts forward the idea of sector-wide minimum standards that integrate CSA across the humanitarian program cycle.
Dr Abid Q Suleri, Executive Director SDPI said we must be ready to deal with more conflicts and old ways of responding to emergencies would not deliver anymore. He highlighted the need to sensitise disaster management polices adding that good policies can reduce the devastative impacts of disasters as often policy fail-ures lead to human suffering.
Monika Vrsanska, Programme Officer, CAFOD, Pakistan highlighting various aspects of study, recommended minimum standards to ensure conflict sensitive emergency response such as inclusion of CSA in preparedness plans and training for senior and operational staff, inclusion of `good enough` conflict analysis in emergency assessment phase, analysis of partnership strategy, orientation of new staff, use of participatory methods in managing distributions, and inclusion of conflict benchmarks in monitoring and evaluations.
The speakers discussed impact of the influential during relief distribution, and discussed how local organisations can develop and retain disaster management capacities.
Aimal Khan Khattak, Senior Advocacy Advisor, CARE International maintained that conflict sensitivity in development assistance can serve not only to decrease levels of conflict or the potential for violent conflicts, but also to increase the effectiveness of the assistance.
He said that integrating conflict sensitivity into development means thinking differently about programming, and adopting a new institutional mindset. `We usually try to understand the context of geographic and social in which we operate and understand the interaction between interventions and context and use this understanding in such a way to minimise neg-ative impacts and maximise the positive ones while elaborating CSA`, he added.
Naseer Memon, Chief Executive, Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO), Islamabad expressed that recent Hood disasters have removed thin layer from medley of conflicts in society.
He maintained that professionals engaged in disaster response need to understand the socio-cultural and political complexity in different parts of the country adding that issues like local employment, local procurement, maneuvering in relief operations and marginalising the weaker segments in the wake of disasters have emerged as key conflicts during recent disasters.
Amjad Nazeer, Policy Advocacy and Campaigning Advisor, Oxfam appreciated the launching of much needed research study.
He said that distribution of food, shelter and other vital commodities for life potentially cause conflict amongst affectees and beneficiaries.
`Most of the humanitarian actors learn things on ground resulting into developing less sensitivity towards conflicts prevailing in our actions and attitudes but none of humanitarian agency employs any kind of formal conflict analysis tools while dealing with emergencies in Pakistan which is very important in a multilingual, multicultural, multi-religious and highly polarised society of Pakistan`, Mr Nazeer said.