|LINKING COMPLEX EMERGENCY RESPONSE AND TRANSITION INITIATIVE|
CERTI Crisis and Transition Tool Kit
Regional Training Approaches for
Crisis Prevention and Management:
This project was made possible through Cooperative Agreement Number HRN-A-00-96-9006 between the US Agency for International Development and Tulane University
The need for more attention to be addressed to disaster (conflicts and complex emergencies) prevention, mitigation and rapid transition to reconstruction and development is becoming ever more clear. The number of conflicts and complex emergencies throughout the world, but especially in Africa, is increasing. Their impact on social, economic and health development is becoming more apparent and pervasive. Coupled with the HIV/AIDS pandemic these problems are now setting development in the region of Africa back and possibly negating many of the gains achieved over the last 50 years.
These two issues, namely conflicts and complex emergencies, and HIV/AIDS have attracted the attention of the United Nations, bilateral organizations, international agencies, NGOs and national governments. In principle the resource capacity at the disposal of this combined set of actors should be sufficient to address this challenge and do so effectively. Unfortunately, some of the potential actors involved are either unaware of the magnitude of these problems in isolation and/or jointly, or they have determined to deal with them on a purely bilateral basis.
Bilateral approaches to these problems, while no doubt important, are unlikely to be sufficient. The nature of the problem calls for a far more consolidated inter-agency and inter-government approach that might, under ideal circumstances, generate overall policies and resource mobilisation and allocation.
In order to stimulate interest and orient action in this area ICMH is preparing a series of consultations, workshops and/or other fora in which these issues can be discussed. It is also proposed to organise a series of training activities designed to provide staff of all the organizations and governmental departments concerned with information on the nature of the problem, resources required, types of interventions that are warranted, and how success might be measured. The training courses will be short and probably of no more than three day duration given the difficulties of bringing senior level officials and staff together and away from their offices for longer than this. The courses will be held in Africa and elsewhere, but always with an African emphasis. They will involve resource staff from Africa as well as organization and government officials from the region. In addition, however, they will draw on technical staff from other regions and bring together agency and organization staff from headquarters and regional offices everywhere.
Throughout the region of Africa, but in other regions of the world as well, the number of conflicts and complex emergencies has increased significantly and is involving more people and countries than at any other time in history. At the end of the 20th century 70% of Africa was involved in wars of one kind or another and during the last 20 years over 60 million people have been forcibly uprooted and displaced as a result of these wars.
The impact of these conflicts and complex emergencies has been various. In some cases where conflicts have been of short duration, the impact has been primarily one of population disruption followed by their relatively rapid return once peace has been reestablished. In other situations, however, conflicts and complex emergencies have not only been of long duration but have become virtually chronic and repeated to the extent that the countries involved have had little respite from them, even during transitory periods of peace.
The attention that has been addressed to these situations has typically focused on the social implications of breakdown of civil society (complex emergencies) and the physical impact on infrastructure and economic development. National and international efforts to redress these situations has hence given more attention to physical reconstruction than social reconstruction and to somatic health problems rather than psychosocial ones.
There is growing evidence that the psychosocial impact of conflicts and complex emergencies is far more insiduous and pervasive than has previously been thought. Many of the conflicts and complex emergencies of the last two decades have been directed at the destruction of civil society and civilian populations. As a result, profound trauma has been imposed on and experienced by civilian populations throughout the region. Of the 60 million people who have been forcibly uprooted over the course of the last two decades, one half are still thought to be living in temporary shelters, refugee camps and peri-urban slum areas. Their exclusion from society and from the reconstruction process is on the one hand intentional and on the other an indirect product of the changing nature of war.
The extent of the psychosocial trauma experienced by civilian populations (and in many cases military ones/especially child military) is profound in may ways. First of all, it is fundamentally destabilising and debilitating at an individual level and the people involved are not only disabled but often unable to participate in their own life reconstruction as well as that of the larger society. The nature of these conflicts, however, has been such that entire groups and communities have also been traumatised and are aslo being prevented from joining and contributing to the reconstruction process as a result of disabilities.
The number of people so involved maybe such that overall social and economic reconstruction is being seriously impeded, but because this domain is poorly understood, relatively little attention has been given to it. ICMH is currently trying to identify the scope of the problem, describe the extent to which different groups in society are affected and how, and devise interventions that can be promoted at low cost in order to prevent and mitigate the impact of war on psychosocial health and well-being, and by extension, the potential for reconstruction and development.