Early Recovery cuts across all sectors whether in conflict or natural disasters, or refugee or IDP settings, concerning displacement, return or reintegration. In 2015, 47% of all projects submited in humanitarian response plans were related to early recovery (Global Early Reocvery Overview 2015). Early Recovery is a broad process that relates to development concerns and issues in a humanitarian setting. This could mean maintaining stability as much as possible in the midst of a crisis (supporting market systems, livelihoods, returning lost assets rapidly to affected communities, conflict sensitive programming). It means bringing national and local authorities into the response as early as possible. This provides the platform for recovery to start rapidly after the crisis and for communities to be more resilient to a crisis.
The Humanitarian Programme Cycle (HPC) – rolled out as part of the IASC Transformative Agenda – consists of a set of inter-linked programmatic tools to assist the Humanitarian Coordinator and Humanitarian Country Team to prepare, prioritise, steer and monitor the collective response through informed decision-making. Affected people are at the centre of the HPC and they should be effectively consulted at each step. The ultimate objective is to improve the delivery of aid through a better joint response.
Early Recovery is a vital element of any effective humanitarian response. Planning for it should start when the crisis begins. Early recovery is an approach that addresses recovery needs that arise during the humanitarian phase using humanitarian mechanisms that align with development principles. It enables people to use the benefits of humanitarian action to seize development opportunities, strengthens resilience, and establishes a sustainable process of recovery from a crisis.
EXAMPLE : INTEGRATION OF EARLY RECOVERY ACROSS WASH PROGRAMMES
In the Philippines, the WASH cluster considered that the response integrated a fundamental Early Recovery approach from the outset of the emergency in that it supported the government to re-establish systems using local authorities and partners engaged in a constructive and experimental learning approach to improve disaster preparedness and resilience. Reconstruction and rehabilitation activities were often supported through cash for work and other cash based initiatives, boosting the livelihoods of affected people. The nutrition cluster also ensured that efforts to support community management of acute malnutrition had capacity building dimensions, working with existing national capacities where possible.
EXAMPLE : INTEGRATION OF EARLY RECOVERY ACROSS SHELTER PROGRAMMES
The Global Shelter Cluster has built its whole approach and strategy around early recovery, acknowledging that for affected people the shelter recovery process starts immediately at the onset of the crisis. To this end a Shelter in Recovery Working Group was established in 2014 at global level to support country level shelter cluster coordination with guidance and best practice, including on linkages with Early Recovery Advisors.
EARLY RECOVERY INTERVENTIONS AND BEST PRACTICES
The IASC Principals have requested clusters to integrate early recovery into all the different phases of the Humanitarian Programme Cycle (HPC) as the foundation for building resilience in a crisis or post-crisis context. The report the Cluster on Early Recovery consolidates the principals on progress in work. Some examples/ best practices from the food security cluster activities in four country case studies (the Philippines / Typhoon Haiyan, Sudan, Iraq and West Africa/ Ebola crisis) are listed below to assist in you discussions with the early recovery cluster. These best practices have been listed under the following early recovery needs:
HEALTH CLUSTER CHAPTER ON EARLY RECOVERY AND RESILIENCE
While an acute natural disaster such as an earthquake or a hurricane usually comes with an immediate prospect of recovery and reconstruction and the subsequent phasing-out of relief activities, this is typically not clear during a protracted emergency due to conflict. Thinking about transition and recovery is often considered still inappropriate when there is uncertainty as to the duration and outcome of the conflict, or when many areas are still not accessible due to insecurity. However, this often results, when looking back at a time the conflict does end, in the realization that opportunities to work on recovery during the conflict were missed, such as harmonising a package of essential health services. At the same time, short term humanitarian actions can have long term consequences, and well-meant but inappropriate interventions may contribute to creating intractable problems that hinder longer term recovery. For example, when training new cadres of health workers, but without being able to offer accredited diplomas, countries can be left with significant challenges to absorb these health workers after the conflict.
While the need to carry out activities aimed at protecting lives and reducing disease, malnutrition and disability should remain the humanitarian priority, early recovery approaches can and should be integrated in the programming to create connections with, and avoid obstacles toward, longer term health system strengthening and contribute to the process of ‘building back better’ and/or the resilience of communities and the health system.
Early recovery begins in a humanitarian setting, and early recovery activities should not wait for formal, large scale reconstruction and development programmes. They will assist in the recovery of the health sector, prepare for the return of normality, and create building blocks for future development.
EXAMPLE : INTEGRATION OF EARLY RECOVERY ACROSS HEALTH PROGRAMMES
In Iraq, whilst the Health cluster didn’t elaborate a specific early recovery objective within the SRP framework, it linked existing capacity building support programming to government in ‘Preparedness, Surveillance and Response’, which became increasingly relevant due to the crisis. This longer-term programme is part of a UN Inter-Agency Iraq Public Sector Modernisation development strategy and is partly cost-shared by agencies with the government.
EXAMPLE : INTEGRATION OF EARLY RECOVERY ACROSS NUTRITION PROGRAMMES
In Sudan the Nutrition cluster worked with communities to enhance participation and leadership to withstand recurring, predictable shocks, whilst expanding multi-sectoral nutrition services.
In the Philippines the Nutrition cluster worked to fill gaps identified by government, and to support the government in maintaining national programmes, including with advocacy relating to the ‘National Milk Code’.
EXAMPLE : INTEGRATION OF EARLY RECOVERY ACROSS PROTECTION PROGRAMMES
The Global Protection cluster shared examples from a range of contexts concerning documentation – in particular around the appropriate issuance of identity documents. It was noted that across multiple clusters, early recovery success in this domain happened when international and national actors focussed on the longer-term were able to engage. Examples include the engagement of programmes supporting birth registration or census efforts, plus those engaged in technical support to governments on the rule of law.
More resources on Education and Early Recovery here
EXAMPLE : INTEGRATING EARLY RECOVERY ACROSS EDUCATION PROGRAMMES
In Sudan, the Education cluster - in tandem with the Government - has been encouraging durable solutions and ‘building back better’. In particular, the Education Cluster has been supporting the Ministry of Education to integrate work on Education in Emergencies into broader sector planning processes and financial forecasting, work which is also being backed by the World Bank. The Ministry has established an Education in Emergencies Unit at Federal and State level.