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SIGBI Programme Director – March 2020

Building resilience and sustainability

Carol InfantiWe are seeing the signs of climate change; the availability of essential resources like drinking water, energy and agricultural production and more natural disasters.

Women and girls are 14 time more likely to die in a disaster than men, according to a leaflet by ActionAid.

If resilience is about coping with and thriving despite change then sustainability is about ensuring the durability of that resilience. Sustainable development seeks to achieve economic development, social cohesion and environmental protection.

The world is developing at an unprecedented rate. Over the next 20 years, urban population in developing countries will double to four billion, while the urbanized land area will triple. Rapid growth helps create new opportunities, but it has also brought serious social, economic, and environmental challenges. In the past decade, the number of people affected by natural disasters tripled to two billion. Low-income countries have accounted for only 9% of the disaster events but 48% of fatalities since 1980. The burden of disasters, conflict, crime, and violence falls disproportionately on the poor.

In recent years, Cash Transfer Programmes (CTP) have emerged as one of the most significant innovations in international humanitarian assistance. By 2015, two billion dollars was spent on cash and vouchers and the global trend is increasing. CTP have been shown to help address women’s empowerment, food security, education and healthcare. While CTP is widely recognised as an essential tool to enhance humanitarian response, it is not a silver bullet. One of the organisations working with  this ActionAid.

Their experience has found that transferring cash to women particularly in emergencies, promotes women’s leadership, by empowering women who might not otherwise have access to money to make spending decisions. Cash transfers are direct payments of money to people, either as an alternative or in addition to distributing items such as food, blankets and shelter kits.

The advantages of cash transfer programmes such as Lendwithcare and Kiva:

  • give dignity to people who have been affected by disasters, and provide a sense of ownership and control in a time of crisis
  • channel money into local markets, which are impacted by crises, and shift the power from larger wholesalers or manufacturers to local retailers
  • create an opportunity to build women’s economic empowerment, lead to reduction of gender-based violence and facilitate women’s leadership
  • can enable people to get the support they need faster, because it cuts down on transportation time of goods.

Communities around the world increasingly feel the urge to tackle these challenges and increase their resilience to poverty and inequality, social exclusion, violence and fragility, as well as climate change and disaster risks. Building sustainable communities, whether they are villages, cities, or countries, will be critical to eliminating poverty and boosting shared prosperity. The importance of community engagement in programme design cannot be understated, not only because it stimulates ownership of the interventions, but also because it allows for robust programme design which reflects people’s needs. This is where initiatives like Fairtrade help.

Building inclusive, resilient, competitive and sustainable cities and communities is essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, and eliminating extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity at the local, regional, and national levels. Please support SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities.

Carol Infanti
Assistant Programme Director, Prosperity

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