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To Enhance Resilience We Must First Learn to Quantify It

Since 2011, donor agencies of all stripes and sizes have made considerable investments in development projects aiming to improve the resilience of Africa's dryland communities. However, Katharine Downie, Coordinator for the Technical Consortium for Building Resilience in the Horn of Africa argues that almost all these investments – with minor exceptions – have failed to demonstrate a real impact in terms of enhanced resilience.

Several approaches for developing programming strategies that apply the concept of resilience have been suggested in recent years, such as the systems focused approach outlined by Mike Jones who leads the Resilience Thematic Group at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) or the application of resilient development strategies (Davies et al., 2015) as explained by Lance Robinson, systems scientist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). However, translating these concepts and approaches empirically to the types of investments and development projects that are required remains a persistently difficult challenge.

“We need to develop theories of change which correspond to interventions in resilience programming, both to be able to demonstrate intended impact and to be able to target investment to pre-empt the negative impacts of a shock,” argues Katharine Downie.

Without evidence that resilience has been enhanced, development initiatives will continue to fail and donor attention and funding will dry up. Read the full blog here.