The Building Resilient Communities in Somalia (BRCiS) Consortium was created in the aftermath of the 2011 famine which resulted in an estimated 258,000 excess deaths in Somalia. To prevent such mass suffering again, the Consortium focuses on addressing the root causes of communities’ vulnerabilities. Committed to a bottom-up model of decision-making, BRCiS thinks beyond emergency response packages. Consortium Members work together to leverage integrated programming models, flexible multi-year funding streams, community participation and ownership structures, and the expertise and resources of local and international organizations. BRCiS programmes are implemented through an area-level approach that seeks to build the resilience of households with a focus on those that are most vulnerable and marginalized. This means that investments are made from a multi-sectoral perspective to generate systemic change and transformational resilience gains. BRCiS has invested significantly in ensuring that programming is driven by the communities, that programming is responsive to changes in the context, and that underlying causes that hinder resilience are addressed. BRCiS has also been at the forefront of adaptive programming, responding to crises in coordination with local authorities and communities. In its eighth year of constant learning, the consortium has evolved to be able to quickly meet emerging needs, putting in place systems and partnerships that are centred in the communities, adaptable, and responsive to the changing context. The Consortium’s 5-year vision is the following: “Vulnerable people at the margins of the Somali society are capacitated to engage with and influence their institutions, so that their needs are served in a more inclusive and sustainable way”. BRCiS is aiming to be more than a programme and to reflect an approach that engages on the spectrum of resilience in Somalia, pursuing both humanitarian and development approaches. By layering intervention packages, BRCiS can deliver on multiple mandates at once, being a mechanism that links projects together to achieve results. This vision therefore presents an overall approach to programming, that can be delivered through multiple projects and partnerships. BRCiS will continue delivering effective humanitarian programming that reduces the severity of humanitarian needs but will also ensure that long-term resilience and moving people out of chronic poverty is directly addressed. These approaches are not mutually exclusive and can be achieved through layering interventions as well as through a holistic programme.
Today, BRCiS comprises nine national and international NGO members and leverages the technical expertise and resources of each partner. BRCiS operates in 34 districts of Somalia and is present in all Federal Member States. More than 450 communities have participated in BRCiS resilience projects since 2013. The multi-programme, multi-donor consortium has implemented over $230 million of funded activities since 2013. BRCiS’ efficient scaleup capacity allowed to reach more than 70,000 people at the height of the 2018 food security and nutrition crisis, contributing significantly to averting the risk of famine. In 2020, the consortium helped more than 26,000 households with cash assistance to mitigate the economic impacts of COVID-19. Results derived from annual surveys demonstrate substantial progress towards improving food security, access to water and community participation, indicating enhanced levels of community recovery in BRCiS operational areas. This trend is shown by advances in standard food security indicators, including the average household dietary index and the food consumption score, with the latter growing from 41.49 to 52.94 on average since the baseline data collection. Similarly, seasonal surveys are showing promising results with the number of households reporting poor food consumption scores having decreased from 24% to 7% between July 2019 and February 2020.
Why Early Warning and Early Action?
Many households and communities have high exposure and vulnerability to shocks such as drought in Somalia, flood, desert locusts and conflict. For the most vulnerable areas, just one or two minor consecutive shocks can result in people engaging in negative coping strategies, becoming displaced or facing the risk of undernutrition. Observing early warnings of imminent shocks and taking anticipatory action and early action in response can limit the immediate negative impacts on communities.
Early warning Early Action (EWEA) mitigates the risk of vulnerable people adopting extreme negative coping strategies or becoming dependent on aid. Additionally, a growing body of evidence demonstrates that early action is far more cost-effective than late humanitarian response. Two recent studies on early response and disaster resilience in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia showed that even if there is uncertainty that a high-magnitude drought will occur, the cost difference is so significant that investing in early action measures is still more cost-effective.
BRCiS EWEA Conceptual Framework
Through EWEA, the Building Resilient Communities in Somalia (BRCiS Consortium) consortium aims to enhance the resilience of communities and local systems to attain self-reliance and reduce the need for humanitarian response. Achieving overall resilience requires building EWEA capacities at the community and district levels and among the humanitarian stakeholders in the BRCiS Consortium. The programme strives to maintain inclusivity, fairness and equitability by directly engaging local resources and the most vulnerable and marginalised communities.
Early warning early action (EWEA) response mitigates the risk of vulnerable people adopting extreme negative coping strategies or becoming dependent on aid.
BRCIS EWEA: EARLY WARNING & EARLY ACTION 2021
This engagement empowers Somali people to develop their own capacities to anticipate, respond to, absorb, recover from and mitigate minor shocks and stresses without undermining their ability, to move out of poverty.
The community-centred EWEA, and generally BRCiS approach starts by considering communities’ risk perceptions and capacities to anticipate, prepare for and respond to shocks. Engagement with the communities then balances short-term response to sudden emergencies with long-term resilience-building interventions against recurring stresses that drive such emergencies. Implementing early action measures helps guard against impending shocks, and early response addresses short-term humanitarian needs while protecting overarching resilience gains. This shock-responsive adaptive programming approach cuts across the humanitarian development spectrum and depends on the Real-Time Risk Monitoring (RTRM) system, the strong level of community engagement and the flexible early action funding mechanisms that have until now been supported by the FCDO through a crisis modifier fund allocated to scale up early action responses when shocks occur.