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Humanitarian Aid on the move #10, special issue: Sahel

Adapting a rehabilitation programme to a crisis situation in Burkina Faso
Bonaventure G. Sokpoh

The climatic conditions in the Sahel, marked by an arid climate with recurrent crises, and the living conditions for most rural communities, characterised by extreme poverty, call for interventions that strengthen people’s capacity to withstand crises and for emergency responses during peak crisis times. All aid actors agree on the need to develop interventions adapted to the specific characteristics of the situation, and with the capacity to provide an early response to the erosion of livelihoods. The LRRD-REPI 2010 programme, funded by the European Union Delegation in Burkina Faso, and run by its operational partners, ACF, Oxfam, Christian Aid, and Development Workshop France, implemented the European Commission’s Joint Humanitarian Development Framework, and the crisis preparation and anticipation mechanism developed by Groupe URD. This article analyses the role played by the LRRD-REPI programme in the current crisis.

For several decades now, the Sahel has been suffering from recurrent crises including droughts, floods, and locust invasions in an unfavourable agricultural and climatic context. Several studies have highlighted the limits of separate humanitarian and development interventions, and presented the lessons learned from managing previous crises [1]. Among the main lessons worth noting are those dealing with preparing actors for crisis response, the efficiency of early-warning and early-response systems, and in-depth analysis of livelihoods, social transfers, and resilience. Although progress has been made in making information available that can be useful in providing warning signs, such as monitoring of climate data, biomass changes, the price of foodstuffs and livestock and survival strategies adopted by local communities, early response remains one of the main obstacles to providing an intervention that is appropriate and timely (i.e., arriving at a time when it has the potential to reduce the destructive effects of the crisis on livelihoods as much as possible).

We can observe in the response to the current crises that several lessons from past crises have been taken on board, particularly in terms of speed of response. Humanitarian aid actors and national governments took action to collect donations as early as December 2011. Donors’ interest in the Sahel is also increasing [2]. However, significant efforts must still be made to meet the ever-growing needs.

As the main provider of humanitarian aid, the European Commission is demonstrating strong commitment to the Sahel. Progress has also been observed in the field in terms of efforts to build up convergence between humanitarian and development interventions in the form of the Joint Humanitarian Development Framework (JHDF) for food security. The LRRD-REPI programme, following on from the emergency response to the July 2010 floods in the Centre Nord and Est regions of Burkina Faso, is a JHDF action.

In addition, Groupe URD has been assessing humanitarian and development programmes and carrying out operational research studies for several years to analyse the difficulties of organisations operating in the Sahel to put LRRD theory into practice. As a result, Groupe URD has developed a crisis preparation and anticipation mechanism, primarily for operational actors implementing medium- and long-term programmes/projects in the Sahel. The LRRD-REPI programme uses the mechanism to ensure better adaptation to a changing intervention situation and reduce the effects of new crises on the programme’s achievements.


Box 1. LRRD-REPI programme

The LRRD-REPI 2010 programme (community recovery following the July 2010 floods in the Centre Nord and Est regions of Burkina Faso) is a rehabilitation programme with a budget of approximately €3.5 million, 80% funded by the EU Delegation to Burkina Faso, and run by ACF, Christian Aid, Oxfam, and Development Workshop France. It aims to improve the resilience of people affected by the floods by ensuring that interventions are on-going after the initial emergency response financed by DG ECHO. It is part of the Joint Humanitarian Development Framework, an approach characterised by a good level of cooperation between the EU Delegation and DG ECHO in Burkina Faso. The programme was set up relatively rapidly after the end of the emergency response financed by DG ECHO. It is implemented by the actors involved in emergency response (except DWF), most of which have been present in the area for several years. This means that the actors involved have a good knowledge of the intervention zones and inhabitants.

Initially scheduled to last for 2 years (April 2011 - March 2012), the programme will be extended for about another 2 years so that the rehabilitation targets can be properly achieved and consolidated. Groupe URD is running an iterative evaluation of the REPI programme comprising 3 field missions: month 6, month 12, and month 18.

[1] Cf.:
- ALNAP 2011, Humanitarian Action in Drought-related Emergencies, ALNAP Lessons Paper
- Beyond any drought: Root causes of chronic vulnerability in the Sahel, The Sahel Working Group, 2007, 23 P.
- Escaping the Hunger Cycle: Pathways to Resilience in the Sahel, Sahel Working Group, Peter Gubbels, September 2011, 124 P. http://www.e-alliance.ch/fileadmin/user_upload/docs/Publications/Food/2012/Escaping_the_Hunger_Cycle_English.pdf

[2] SAHEL: Donors learning funding lessons – slowly http://www.irinnews.org/Report/94799/SAHEL-Donors-learning-funding-lessons-slowly