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Disaster response to meet early recovery needs

The international humanitarian system contains a function – the early recovery cluster group – to address the needs of early recovery. This group faces a challenge when working with other cluster groups, focused on meeting immediate needs such as food, health, protection and WASH. National and local governments can also struggle with the transition from response to recovery. This also stems from the difficulty that results from separating responsibility between different agencies.

Photograph of a house door frame standing alone in the destroyed Lunda village in Charsadda district, Pakistan after the 2010 flood.©Osman Consulting via Islamic Relief Worldwide

Within this program of study, it’s not the intention to cover the needs of communities during the recovery phase in detail. However, it’s important to recognise the need to plan to work with communities at the earliest opportunity, in order to determine how best external agencies can support communities to recover their homes and livelihoods.

Rebuilding homes

Photograph of a Lunda village resident, starting to rebuild using local materials after the 2010 flood.©Osman Consulting via Islamic Relief Worldwide

Those who are displaced may need assistance to return home. However, as we have learned, many do not travel far from their home villages and towns. In fact, in Pakistan many returned to construct their own temporary shelters on the site of damaged property. Many affected people begin to reconstruct their dwellings rather than wait for a long time for material or financial support. Once funds to support house rebuilding become available, needs assessments are often out of date and agencies build houses alongside the initiatives of local people.

Recovering livelihoods

Photograph of a tractor in a Lunda village field, having freshly prepared the soil for cultivation after the 2010 flood.©Osman Consulting via Islamic Relief Worldwide

We need to consider livelihood options for those who are displaced and for those who are trying to recover their original source of income. However, for many of those who were most badly affected, their original source of income was insecure. This insecurity was one of the primary causes of the poverty that led them to being so badly affected by the floods. Livelihood recovery requires thoughtful and innovative interventions to improve income, capacity and livelihood security.

Your task

What is the objective of early recovery? Who is responsible for the transition from humanitarian aid which meets immediate needs, to recovery and reconstruction? It may help to read some of the resources provided by the early recovery cluster:

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Humanitarian Action, Response and Relief

Coventry University