The Great Debate UK

A local approach to building resilience


–Nicholas Rutherford is the Director of AidEx. The opinions expressed are his own.–

South-South Cooperation is currently and correctly being cited as a route to cutting poverty and increasing food security in the developing world, with recent plaudits including Ban Ki-moon and Amina Mohamed. The premise is that two or more developing countries achieve goals through mutual cooperation and exchanges of knowledge, skills and resources.

It’s an argument that has long had currency within the development community. But the idea has started to capture the attention of the humanitarian world as more and more governments, NGOs and UN agencies realise the importance of long term planning and local self-sufficiency when it comes to responding to emergencies in developing countries.

Traditionally, the humanitarian model followed a familiar pattern whereby a disaster would strike and the international community would arrive, often bringing everything they needed – including tents, food and medicine – with them. This kind of approach would last throughout the emergency phase and into the weeks and months of the reconstruction period. And, while it was well intentioned and often practical, it did not always sufficiently address the role the local community could play – either as interested parties who could be active in preparing for a flood or drought, or as potential suppliers of food once that crisis had actually hit.