Creativity and flexibility: key factors to success
An experience of development interventions in a complex emergency situation
Re-establishing food self-resilience among drought-affected populations of North Darfur project
"In spite of the severe security situation most of the time, the project has been very successful and has achieved virtually all the project goals. Practical Action* must be highly commended for this and its role in development" wrote the EC monitor Peter Welsh in his report in April 2006. Indeed the situation was severe, after six months of implementation, a local tsunami had hit the region and what was originally thought to be tribal squabbles had escalated into all out war between the central government and rebel forces. The latter issue resulted in the UN declaring Darfur as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. However, as the EC monitor stated the project was very successful in achieving its goals of reducing poverty and vulnerability of the targeted communities to food insecurity. It provided these communities with resources, skills and knowledge that increased their income, production plus built local institutions to sustain these benefits. Moreover, the project demonstrated models of implementation that will have great potential to contribute to the post-conflict rehabilitation and development not only of North Darfur, but the entire Darfur region.
How did a project designed to respond to food insecurity caused by droughts and rainfall shortages succeed in a complex emergency situation? Creativity and flexibility are the key words. While keeping the focus of the project, Practical Action was creative and flexible vis-à-vis the implementation strategy of the project. When the security situation did not allow staff to travel to some villages, more roles were delegated to the Community Based Organizations (CBOs) in these villages in terms of project implementation and monitoring. The villages that were completely out of reach were replaced by others and the project followed those communities which fled their villages and moved to the IDP camps. In the camps we implemented specific interventions to increase the capacity of the IDPs. The project donor the EC, agreed and welcomed changes made by Practical Action during the course of the project implementation. Many lessons can be learned from this experience; the most important being the differential between relief and development as two distinct concepts whose borders can become blurred. This problem may be aided by further development of the Relief Rehabilitation and Development Concept.
Towards food security …
- Community Based Organization's (CBO's) were created giving confidence, awareness and skills.
- Area under cultivation was doubled due to flood irrigation and the use of animal-drawn ploughs.
- Crop production increased per household between 500% and 800%.
- 55,000 families used improved stoves and cut their biogas fuel consumption by 50%.
* The project contract was signed under the former Practical Action name of Intermediate Technology Development Group.