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Bringing humanitarian and development frameworks, financing and programmes closer together – A case study of nutrition resilience building in Somalia

This case study on nutrition resilience and the humanitarian and development nexus (HDN) in Somalia draws on interviews, field observations and meetings with over 70 stakeholders based in Nairobi, Kenya; Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia; and Dollow district on the Ethiopia-Kenya border. It was carried out between April and September 2018. The overarching question for the study is: 'What opportunities exist to increase nutrition resilience through strengthening the Humanitarian Development Nexus (HDN)'. Nutrition resilience is defined as the ability to maintain adequate nutrition status when faced with 'shock'. The HDN and its potential to strengthen nutrition resilience is examined on three levels: policies; frameworks, institutional architecture and financing arrangements; and programme design and implementation. Furthermore, the focus has been to look at basic social services resilience through a lens of systems building and/or health systems strengthening.

Most stakeholders in Somalia recognise that, after 27 years of conflict and periodic drought and periodic famine, it is time to move away from annual cycles of humanitarian intervention and support the relatively new Somali government (established in 2012) to build resilience among its populations and services. However, there is a lack of leadership and clarity with regard to institutional mandates and the structural arrangements of key players for resilience-building (including nutrition resilience) in Somalia, and consequently poor delineation with respect to how resilience is embedded in multiple policies, plans and frameworks. This creates tensions and confusion between stakeholders supporting key plans and frameworks.

Financing arrangements for nutrition programming in Somalia have been largely geared towards life-saving humanitarian action, at a time when there is growing demand for longer-term resilience-building initiatives which may lessen the need for future humanitarian interventions. Recently there has been a shift in focus towards investing in resilience although there appears to be some flexibility in humanitarian funding, which though substantial, it is poorly suited to nutrition resiliencebuilding programming: it is annual, inflexible and carries substantial transaction costs for local civil society organisations (CSOs). Furthermore, this type of funding is, in large measure, allocated to development partners rather than government and therefore incurs enormous (but largely 'invisible') transaction costs. Recently engaged development donors such as the World Bank and the German government are rapidly testing the feasibility of direct budget support to government, with a view to scaling up this kind of financing as rapidly as possible. It is their hope that other donors, more riskaverse until now, will follow suit.

There are clear differences in programme focus and approach of agencies working on resilience-building and, apart from consortia-led programming, there is little in the way of harmonisation. Poorly defined programme objectives and definitions of resilience have made it difficult to evaluate the impact of resilience-building programmes. Evaluations have instead tended to focus on process but, where nutrition has been monitored, no impact has been found. There are rather stagnant high level of malnutrition over the years despite continued short-term investments as shown in Figure 1 below.

There is a sense amongst many stakeholders that there is limited and/or poor levels of accountability for these programmes and that objectives need to be clearly defined in terms of resilience building and that these must be measured at baseline and throughout the life of a programme. Moreover, there is a critical need for objectively measuring the continuity and/or systems building/strengthening these projects leave behind beyond merely measuring beneficiaries reached � the low hanging fruit.

Despite all the constraints confronting Somalia, the expansion and rollout of these nutrition resiliencebuilding efforts present an unprecedented opportunity for the nutrition sector to both clarify the nature of nutrition resilience-building and how to measure impact. This will, in turn, shine a light on the extent to which efforts to strengthen the HDN in Somalia are proving effective in mitigating the need for recurrent and long-term humanitarian programming though this will only be achieved if the opportunities are acknowledged and harnessed by all key stakeholders with a common vision towards resilience building

Source: Emergency Nutrition Network