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Navigating the Nexus: A Brighter Future for Children in Urban Contexts in Central America

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World Vision
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Approximately 2 billion people face multidimensional vulnerability in countries deeply affected by fragility, conflict and violence, making them some of the most dangerous places in the world to be a child. Additionally, urban environments contribute to unique manifestations of fragility, as inhabitants grapple with rapid growth, inequality, segregation, and the challenges of living in informal settlements, and volatile environments of ethnic and political tension.

The CA-4 region (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua) of Central America contains some of the most acute fragility in the Western Hemisphere. Poverty is widespread, with the majority of the population working in the informal sector and relying on informal services to meet their needs. The region faces multiple complex and protracted crises with significant humanitarian, development and peace building needs. Particularly in urban areas, daily life includes interrelated challenges from poverty and inequality, high levels of violence, vulnerability to (increasingly) frequent natural disasters, and high levels of internal displacement and migration. Organised crime and violence in the region are leading to some of the world’s highest rates of homicide, femicide and gender based violence.

In response to the dire humanitarian situation in places like CA-4, a new approach has emerged that aims to tackle both the causes and effects of fragility by linking work across the humanitarian, development and peace building “nexus” at a programmatic level. This operational framework across the triple nexus, aims to overcome siloed, output-oriented aid operations through a coordinated effort between the relevant actors implementing these types of programming. By approaching humanitarian, development and peace building efforts as interconnected, it not only addresses immediate needs but also builds resilience to future shocks and intentionally works to weaken the drivers of fragility. Non-governmental organisations like World Vision are implementing this nexus approach to help ensure that improved child well-being is sustainably realised in fragile contexts, including in the unique contexts that fragile cities create for children, families and communities.

Aligned with the nexus framework, World Vision developed their Fragile Contexts Programme Approach (FCPA) in 2017 to integrate nexus programming into country-level strategy. FCPA is an adaptive management approach which allows World Vision to work with partners to respond to short term needs with flexibility, while also prioritising long-term interventions that address the drivers of fragility and risk in an integrated way across humanitarian, development and peace building programming. These interventions reduce the impact of recurrent shocks and stresses and address the root causes of multiple dimensions of urban poverty and fragility, which is essential for development and child well-being gains to be sustainable.

FCPA is being implemented in the CA-4 region, and this paper aims to provide World Vision with an analysis of its operationalisation of the triple nexus in fragile urban contexts based on its existing programmes. It examines the progress World Vision has made in strengthening interlinkages between humanitarian, development and peace building efforts in CA-4, as well as what obstacles remain. Along with considering these enabling factors for success and barriers to overcome, the paper also provides recommendations for how to strengthen nexus programming in urban fragile contexts, with the hope of improving the well-being of children and communities worldwide.

By 2030, it is predicted that 80 per cent of people experiencing extreme poverty will be living in fragile/ conflict-affected contexts, and current projections are that 23 of the 31 most fragile and conflict-affected countries today will soon be significantly urbanised. There is significant need to address both the immediate humanitarian needs and the long-term development and peace building goals through effective collaboration across the triple nexus, and World Vision is well-positioned to enact this approach for the well-being of children and communities in the CA-4 region.