Start Fund awarded responses: July
July saw 7 alerts activated, with a total of £1,485,000 awarded to various agencies. This included three anticipation alerts, as well as three alerts in the Latin and Central America region. A range of crisis types were responded to, highlighting the scope of the Start Fund’s capacity to respond globally.
ALERT 331 – EL SALVADOR (ANTICIPATION OF DROUGHT)
The weak El Niño phenomenon which was affecting Central America since February caused drought conditions in El Salvador, impacting agriculture and water sources with vulnerable households expected to continue adoption of negative coping strategies. This issue was particularly exacerbated by the poor harvests from 2018, causing lowered resilience in an already-vulnerable population.
- Various assessments noted negative coping strategies and results of two consecutive periods of drought, including selling animals as a result of food shortages or deaths of animals.
- Additional stressors of drought conditions could be expected to compound on existing social risks (such as violence, extortion, and gang recruitment) with these risks most felt by vulnerable populations in El Salvador.
- The ongoing restriction of funding from USAID/OFDA to the Northern Triangle meant that funding in El Salvador was particularly limited, with resilience lowered.
The Allocation Committee met on the 5th July, unanimously agreeing to activate the Start Fund for the requested amount of £300,000 due to the added value of early action in a situation where negative coping strategies were already taking place and agencies were prepared to respond. Both World Vision and Save the Children received funding in a local PSC for proposals which combined sensitization and provision/prepositioning, in an effectively planned anticipation plan.
ALERT 332 – DRC (FIRE)
A fire broke out on the evening of 30 June 2019 in Bukavu City, Sud Kivu, destroying more than 200 houses, leaving more than 1,800 individuals homeless. Displaced people relocated to outdoor spaces or public locations, with shelter needs and food unaddressed. While fires are a recurring problem in Bukavu, due to overcrowded urbanisation and low construction standards – which also impede fire assistance – assistance to affected populations is often limited and delayed. The ongoing insecurity in the region also exacerbates the situation of vulnerability.
- The ongoing responses to other crises in DRC (response to violence and Ebola) meant that this crisis was going largely unaddressed, aside from the small amount of food aid provided by the local government.
Following strong support from the survey, the Start Fund Team agreed that this alert, due to its very “under-the-radar” nature, was an ideal opportunity for the Start Fund to respond. Due to extensive experience responding to similar circumstances, Christian Aid was selected in a local Project Selection Meeting, with the entire process running in 68 hours.
ALERT 333 – MEXICO (FLOODING)
Heavy rains in late June across large areas of Mexico caused widespread flooding and displacement; some areas, such as Reynosa (Tamaulipas State) were particularly vulnerable due to negative impacts of flooding, due to poor drainage – causing negative impact to water sources as well as health centres in this area.
- Due to Reynosa’s location on the US-Mexican border, there were additional protection issues to be considered, particularly with regards to returnee migrants
- The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season forecast predicted a likelihood of 2-4 major hurricanes, with new flooding in the affected area potentially expected to impact any response to this storm.
The small and highly localised nature of the alert seemed to clearly fit the mandate of the Start Fund, and it was noted that a small injection of funding could result in a significant impact to fill gaps left by the government response.
As this could be considered a cyclical crisis, agencies were advised to examine the possibility of raising an anticipation alert in the future – on this occasion, a proposal submitted by CADENA in consortium with World Vision, with a multi-sectoral focus on WASH, Health, and Shelter needs.
ALERT 336 – MYANMAR (FLOODING)
Heavy rain during the Myanmar monsoon season led to the Laymyo River overflowing, impacting the IDP camp of Sin Baw Kaing and those displaced by the Rakhine Conflict.
As the weather was not expected to improve, and resilience in the affected communities was low, it was felt that a relatively modest injection of funds would make a significant positive impact on conditions.
- Some areas of Rakhine – including the areas highlighted in the alert note – were restricted from humanitarian access due to ongoing conflict in the region. Due to this restriction, some important information was difficult to access.
At allocation stage, the committee agreed that this met the criteria of an under-the-radar and highly-localised crisis – however the existence of alternative funding and the difficulty in accessing for an effective response were flagged as concerns. These concerns were shared by the localised Project Selection Committee, who – when they met in Yangon – felt that despite the strength of the proposals, the availability of other funding as well as the access, capacity, and duplication concerns all rendered it inappropriate to award any agency this funding.
ALERT 339 NICARAGUA (ANTICIPATION OF DROUGHT)
A weak El Nino phenomenon developing since February 2019, has affected several Central American counties across the Dry Corridor. Below-average rainfall, combined with decreasing water availability and food insecurity, prompted some negative-coping mechanisms to be utilised by vulnerable populations across Nicaragua, where close to 70% of the total population are thought to depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.
- Subsistence farmers are expected to resort to negative coping strategies amid the lack of livelihood opportunities, with the potential impact on livestock causing even more long-reaching livelihood consequences.
- A delay in rainfall in 2018 led to the loss of up to 70% of first harvest crops, with excessive rainfall in the 2018 Postera period then destroying crops further. This current trend is therefore impacting a population already with low resilience.
The allocation committee agreed unanimously that the forecasted information pointed to a likelihood of the situation worsening, with the political-economic context identified as potential aggravating stressors. A local team met in Nicaragua to review the project proposals, awarding Trócaire, Save the Children, and CRS due to geographic coverage, effective needs assessments, and anticipated long-term positive impact.
ALERT 340 – BURKINA FASO (CONFLICT)
A spate of attacks in the Bourzanga Commune (Bam Province) in mid-July led to the displacement of more than 6,000 individuals, who largely relocated to Bourzanga Centre and Namsiguima. Due to the sudden nature of this conflict, as well as the widespread generalised violence in the region, access to shelter and general necessities were a priority.
- Around 75% of the people displaced as a result of these attacks were temporarily residing in public sites including schools, churches, mosques, and outdoor areas. Food assistance was also shown to be a priority, with the food assistance provided by the municipal council regarded to be much lower than the recommended standard.
The Start Team recognised that this crisis was in an acute phase with high needs, and that it represented a localised spike in an ongoing crisis.
In a localised Project Selection, Christian Aid was funded due to their ability to act in the targeted area quickly, as well as the pertinence of the programme areas of food security and shelter – with recommendations to provide appropriate levels of support to the host population alongside the IDPs.
ALERT 341 – SOUTH SUDAN (ANTICIPATION OF EBOLA)
The confirmed case of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Ariwara, DRC, caused the assessment of risk of EVD in South Sudan to be elevated from ‘High’ to ‘Very High’ – due in part to the proximity of Ariwara to the South Sudanese border.
Ongoing cross-border migration as well as security incidents at the border were all deemed to put potential pressure on the already-fragile health infrastructure in South Sudan.
- Border monitoring is largely deemed to be insufficient along the South Sudanese border with DRC and Uganda, with administrative issues allowing unmonitored population movements.
The Allocation committee agreed that while this was not a low-profile crisis, the lack of anticipatory funding as well as the importance of community engagement and mobilisation as a factor of EVD risk reduction made the Start Fund a viable choice as a bridging mechanism.
The Allocation committee opted to reduce the scope of the alert to only border regions, removing the urban areas around Juba and Wau airports in order to prioritise the vulnerable rural population.
In the local Project Selection, three projects (from Tearfund, ALIMA, and Solidarités International) were selected which focussed on diverse areas of the border region, as well as being WASH-specific and socially-culturally integrative.
The Start Fund is supported by UK Aid, Irish Aid, Dutch MFA, Jersey Overseas Aid, the German Federal Foreign Office and IKEA Foundation.
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