Simon Maxwell

Linking Relief and Development: An Ethiopian Case Study

'Linking Relief and Development: An Ethiopian Case Study' (with Alemayehu Lirenso) in IDS Bulletin 25:4, October 1994

The idea of linking relief and development (LRD) is immediately attractive in Ethiopia, where 27 million people, 55 per cent of the population, are food insecure, and where the cost of relief has exceeded the equivalent of one third of government revenue in drought years. LRD is indeed central to government policy, notably in the National Policy on Disaster Prevention and Management. Though practice lags behind policy, progress is being made, for example with an employment-based safety net. However, LRD involves costs and tradeoffs, there are questions about what is feasible in a poor country with weak state capacity, and the future role of NGOs is in doubt. The article discusses these and concludes with operational and research agendas. Operationally, the greatest risk is trying to do too much too quickly: the first priority is to assure an effective famine safety net and then build an LRD strategy from the bottom up, with NGOs setting out explicitly to strengthen and support government capacity. The research agenda focuses on the costs and trade-offs inherent in different interventions, and about the pace and sequencing of LRD as a whole.

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