UN studies moving countries from relief to development after war and natural disasters

14 July 2005 –

Managing recovery from natural or man-made disasters requires resources for surviving the emergency and funding to build national capabilities and empower communities, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a report on moving countries from needing relief aid to absorbing development assistance.

“Conflict-related emergencies rarely end neatly,” the report to the General Assembly Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) says. “Insecurity may persist to varying degrees, government structures may be incapacitated or destroyed, and the root causes of the conflict may not be adequately addressed by negotiated political solutions that have yet to take root, often causing conflicts to resurface.”

In that context, too, poverty is widespread, corruption and unemployment may be high and social services are inadequate in much of the affected country, it says.

The vision of the sort of country for which the post-war groundwork is being laid must be provided by nationals because without such a focus, the main goal of the transition – consolidating a sustainable and just peace – is unlikely to be achieved, it says.

New pooled funding mechanisms, such as the multi-donor trust funds established for Iraq, Afghanistan and now Sudan, are showing how priorities can be identified, the report says, but flexible funding must be made available during the needs assessment missions and immediately after the signing of peace agreements when critical early transitional activities must start, facilitating stabilization.

International consultants, while aiding the transitional government in observing such international standards as human rights obligations, must ensure that nationals are trained in the capabilities their government will need, it says.

Experience with the Indian Ocean tsunami and other natural disasters suggests that in some cases while humanitarian assistance funding is readily available, even abundant, for the immediate response, contributions drop off once the initial phase is complete and media and public interest has subsided, it says.

The request for donors to support immediate actions to address immediate needs and also support immediate actions to address long-term needs challenges the continued use of the consolidated appeal as the best mechanism for mobilizing resources, while the flash appeal covers only emergencies, the report says.

Since the beginning of last year, the UN has been using the “triple threat” approach in Southern Africa of addressing food insecurity, stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS and strengthening governance for a crisis that started with a drought, it says.

While donors have been helping responsible governments provide social services through budgetary support, immediate outreach to support millions of chronically vulnerable people in the region will remain insufficient for several years to come, the report adds.

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