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Evidence based policy for post crisis stabilization: bridging the gap

Final Report Summary - CAERUS (Evidence based policy for post crisis stabilization: bridging the gap)

Executive Summary:
Natural disasters and civil conflict are the common causes of acute crises around the world. Earthquakes, floods, and civil violence cause death, injuries and loss of livelihoods and long-term effects such as migration, chronic instability, and famines. The project addresses key issues for a smooth transition from emergency phase to stabilization and development. The objectives of the project were: 1. To improve policies for transitional situations at global and regional levels and to identify the compatibilities and contradictions in relief to development policies; 2. To better understand the role of health and education, as drivers of pacification and social stabilization in post crises settings; 3. To adapt and apply existing European technologies to improve the efficiency of relief to development actions in post crisis settings by meeting gaps in rapid data transfer, pathogen detection and disease transmission control.
CAERUS progress is in line with the Description of Work (DoW) of the project for the first 15 months and achieved the objectives for this period. The kick-off meeting was attended by partner teams, members of the Ethical Advisory Board, Data Protection expert, the EC-REA project officer. Discussions on data exchange took place together with the Data Security expert and ethical challenges related to the future work in the field (D7.1). The teams produced two literature review papers currently in preparation for scientific publication (D2.1 D3.1). A Policy Learning paper (D1.1) on the role of education and health in post crises settings was discussed at the first external consultation workshop (D1.3) held in Brussels with EC and other participants which was also meant as a consultative event with stakeholders, ahead of the field visits.
The CAERUS Data Services Platform (CDSP) was developed using a system of checks and balances including code review, compliance testing (D5.1). The internal policy workshop (Nov. 2014) framed the health and education policy component of the overall research, inter-sectoral synergies, political and institutional issues and participatory analyses in field sites (D.1.2. part I). A review on Non-State-Armed-Groups (NSAG) in health service delivery is also available (D2.2) and it served as a background paper for a workshop with NSAG leaders in Geneva. The deliverables related to Project Ethical guidelines (D7.7 D7.12 D7.13 D7.14 D7.16) were circulated to the EAB and Data protection expert.
The preparation of the field studies started near the end of 2014. The final sites were the Philippines (typhoon), India (river erosion; civil unrest), Myanmar, Nepal, Mali, DR Congo, Madagascar (post-conflict), Liberia (post conflict, post-Ebola). Field arrangements were finalized for India, Myanmar and Philippines in preparation for the second year of the project. As one of the partners of CAERUS was in India, progress was fast and the team identified study indicators, sampling frame and GPS protocol for household selection (D3.5). Logistical arrangements were made such as office rental, lodging for field staff and transport needs. Team missions were undertaken to Philippines and Myanmar where meetings were held with EC-delegations, hospital and school directors as well as NSAG contacts. In addition, these preparatory field trips resulted in identification and negotiation with partners in the field, preparation of logistic conditions and study design.
The Technical Review meeting has held in Brussels in March 19 2015 when the REA-EU project officer where the Consortium presented its progress. This was followed by the Annual meeting held in March 20 2015.

Project Context and Objectives:
CAERUS addresses key critical questions that determine a smooth transition from emergency type activities to structural long term development activities. For example, after the tsunami in Aceh (Indonesia, 2005), nearly two million dollars were spent setting up a surveillance system that did not correspond to the structure of the national system. Therefore, at the end of the relief phase, neither the data nor the investment in the system could be handed over to the Ministry of health. In the education sector, for example, the cohorts of children who have not received any schooling for several years due to conflict present a high potential for renewed instability. Transition policies to address these during or just after the relief phase are essential. As drought and floods are increasing significantly, disaster related migration is a common phenomenon especially in Asia, and often feeds into social tensions in urban slums. There is also a need to undertake specific research on ways to integrate these population groups within the local social structure and establish realistic policies building on the research. Finally, institutional mechanisms that formalise relief to development cooperation between organisations such as OCHA and UNDP would be a critical component to ensure progress in this area.

All of the above requires, on one hand, an in depth understanding at field level of the social dynamics and, on the other hand, greater knowledge of how research can inform the nexus between humanitarian and development aid.
Finally, LRRD is a widely recognised and approved concept by most donor governments and affected countries. It is a central issue in the discussion of the Good Humanitarian Donorship forum and has been the subject of several white papers, both in the EC, US and major donor countries. What is lacking, however, is translational research for concrete policies that are ground-truthed and evidence-based.

The CAERUS project aims:

1. To improve policies for transitional situations at global and regional levels, as well as strengthen operational policies in the field; to identify the compatibilities and contradictions in relief to development policies in UN, EU (including European MS) and other key actors such as US, Japan and regional inter-governmental bodies and propose reforms. The effectiveness of aid policies in post emergency settings especially in post conflict is badly understood. Relief actions can contradict the subsequent development policies, leading to waste of resources involved in the re-orienting the process. We will analyse existing policies to highlight such contradictions and propose policy reform;

2. To better understand the role of health and education, with special emphasis on adolescents and young adults as drivers of pacification and social stabilisations in post crises settings and recommend future policy from lessons learnt. We are increasingly faced with large youth communities in fragile states who have been deprived of education and direction during the past war years. These groups are highly vulnerable in many ways. Their susceptibility to many adverse health outcomes (for example related to reproductive health) can be high. Their potential as destabilizing forces in societies without an adequate educational framework is significant. We plan to undertake case studies among conflict-affected youth population, identify risk factors and propose targeted policies;

3. To adapt and apply existing European technologies to improve the efficiency of relief to development actions in post crisis settings by meeting gaps in rapid data transfer, pathogen detection and disease transmission control. In this third and last objective, we plan to test the European technologies either developed within the Consortium or already available in the Union. We will assess their performance and reliability for data gathering, transfer and sharing processes in different settings. We also plan to evaluate the feasibility of using European technology for detection of pathogens in zones without easy access to laboratory facilities.

Major natural disasters have toppled governments and provided openings for uprisings in nondemocratic and oppressive regimes. Earthquakes in Nicaragua and Iran, cyclone in Bangladesh and famine in Ethiopia triggered popular dissent that eventually led to a fall of the Government. These issues are priority items on the agendas of important institutions that influence or set policies. Meetings in the UK Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) discussed the effects of acute climate events and security. The Asian Development Bank’s research arm (ADBI) has initiated a study on the development impact of natural disasters in the short and long term. The Foresight Project of the UK Government Office for Science has released a study (“Improving future disaster anticipation and resilience”) in November 2012 which examines data and evidence for better measuring the real impact on communities. Broader issues related to business continuity in an increasingly globalized world are also of rising concern. For example, the floods in Thailand in 2011 had major economic impact, paralysing production in the automotive and computer sectors in certain countries, including in Europe.

With regard to civil conflict, experience has shown that political accords are often unable to bring about lasting peace, collapsing within a matter of years or even months. According to a report by the researchers from the Uppsala Conflict Data Programme (Wallensteen et al, 2011) the number of civil conflicts has peaked in 2011, increasing by 20% over the previous year. In addition, only one peace accord was signed in 2011 that did not last. In general, in post crisis situations lawlessness continues to be a way of life in the absence of a return to systemic normalcy. Governments that are legitimately elected eventually lose authority and credibility, as they are unable to provide basic services to their people. In addition, inequities in the provision of basic services can motivate conflict among different groups. In contrast, equity in services can generate confidence in the government and therefore stability.

Many conflict-affected regions are characterized by their remoteness where health, food security, nutrition and basic education systems have broken down. In insecure settings, epidemics tend to be recognised well beyond their peak as surveillance systems do not function. For example, in Uige, Angola international response came in nearly 3 months after the start of the epidemic of the highly virulent Marburg hemorrhagic fever outbreak, only when nearly 300 children had died in the pediatric hospital. Identification of rare diseases still remains a major challenge in most conflict-affected regions where adequate laboratory services are unavailable.

These crises pose a moral imperative on the global community to provide help through humanitarian aid. They also require effective action to stabilize the affected population, both in their own interests and that of global security. In fact, local conflicts can potentially evolve into regional ones, and in poorly governed states, become a breeding ground for terrorist groups.

Linking humanitarian and development aid is recognized by policy makers in Europe and elsewhere and indisputably there has been progress on larger policy frameworks, but challenges remain at the operational level.

Project Results:
Please refer to the attached document.
Potential Impact:
During the lifetime of the project, the CAERUS Consortium, objectives, and project work plan are completely oriented towards achieving the main impacts. The project is conceived to maintain a sound balance between high-quality research products and relevant public policy recommendations. CAERUS is channeled through impact on policy makers, politicians and senior programme directors; impact on immediate effectiveness; and impact using new technologies.
Relief to development policy is still unfolding as understanding of the field barriers to the implementation of the concept becomes clearer. This gives the project an excellent opportunity to make an impact on this developing policy field. An external policy consultation and a round table with NSAG and INGOs were held. Meetings in selected field sites were also organized with key informants in Myanmar, India and the Philippines.
We have devoted considerable resources to improving the understanding and analyzing the existing mechanisms of relief actions as implemented by the EU, EU member states, UN and non-EU actions in recent crisis and conflict situations. Furthermore, the contribution of local and international NGOs directly concerned with humanitarian and development aid as counterparts in the field studies, will channel the field based evidence and the need for policy reform towards the non-governmental sectors at global and regional meetings.
The scientific component of CAERUS has two main targets: the academic community and the UN agencies in the sectors of health and education. We have published four scientific papers and are preparing two additional ones for submission in the first year of the project. Lessons learnt from both literature reviews and the more pragmatic-oriented field studies would have been integrated into comprehensive guideline in post-crises and post-conflict situations that can inform policy makers of the most appropriate and sustainable interventions to maintain stability and ensure long-term security.

List of Websites:
Prof. Debarati GUHA
Université catholique de Louvain - Institut de Recherche Santé et Société - Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters
Clos Chapelle-aux-Champs 30 - Box:15
1200 Brussels
+32 2 764 33 27 -