Publication of a report by the ActionAid Alliance, Improving European development co-operation: the link between relief, rehabilitation and development
The 'grey zone' between the European Union’s emergency relief efforts and its long-term development assistance is examined in a substantive report released today by the ActionAid Alliance, a grouping of leading European aid agencies.
The period immediately following an emergency and before the beginning of longer-term development programmes is commonly known as the 'grey zone'. This remains a time of uncertainty where emergency relief funds have been withdrawn but long-term development assistance is still being planned. This 'gap' reduces the possibility of stabilizing emergency situations and hinders people’s recovery.
The report argues for the need to frame emergency relief efforts within the larger context of development and calls for the wholesale adoption of what the European Commission terms the 'contiguum' approach – the simultaneous delivery of emergency (humanitarian) relief, infrastructure rehabilitation and long-term development assistance.
Though the EU pays lip service to the 'contiguum' concept, ActionAid Alliance charges that the EC and its member countries adopt a linear approach, resulting in aid delivery 'gaps'.
Since the early 1990s the EC has acknowledged the transitional period to be a problem area but has concentrated on small-scale alterations to its management and budgetary structures. Ad hoc measures have consequently been implemented but have failed to provide a comprehensive strategic solution.
Report author, Iacopo Viciani said: "Whilst transitional situations cannot be made to fit into a set of blueprints, tools to manage uncertainty can still be devised."
Effective links between emergency relief, rehabilitation and development can be achieved, but only if aid delivery involves affected communities in all stages from emergency preparation to recovery. The report finds that this is also the most cost effective form of aid delivery.
As Poul Nielson, EC Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, admitted: "European taxpayers who pay for the aid programmes, and the ten millions of beneficiaries all over the world, deserve nothing less."
"This is a critical year for EC aid policy," said Iacopo Viciani. "Restructuring is currently up for discussion and this provides a window of opportunity to learn from past mistakes and bring in root and branch reform."
Europe is highly influential in the arena of development assistance. The volume of EC aid constitutes 10 per cent of global donations and EU countries are collectively the world’s top aid donors accounting for half of all overseas development assistance.