Islands of innovation in protracted crises: a new approach to building equitable resilience from below

Lead Research Organisation: Institute of Development Studies
Department Name: Research Department

Abstract

There are a number of countries which have been suffering from multiple humanitarian disasters, ranging from civil wars, floods and volcanoes and epidemics such as Ebola. The epicentre of these disasters, usually borderland remote regions, have struggled to meet the global development goals and targets, showing that the international community and the governments of these countries are not finding adequate solutions to deal with these protracted crises. The solution therefore may reside with the affected population and individuals themselves. Studying these bottom-up approaches will provide an entry point to discuss synergies and tensions between individual and collective forms of resilience in humanitarian situations and the 'Leave No One Behind' agenda behind the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular the goals around Poverty, Health, Gender, Inequalities, Climate, and Peace.

The two countries we are examining, Côte d'Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of Congo, have had tumultuous histories since the end of the 20th century. Our first case study is the western region of Côte d'Ivoire at the border with Liberia. This region has been the epicentre of violence during the civil war between 2000 and 2010. The war has created many forced displacement and humanitarian issues around food and health security. The region was also exposed to the threat of the Ebola virus via the Liberian border, although the virus was contained. A major flood, in 2018, also affected the whole country and agricultural production. Finally, climate change prediction around rising temperatures could seriously disrupt the region with its reliance on cocoa production.

Our second case study is the north Kivu region in the DRC. Decades of fighting have ravaged the economy of north Kivu, with the latest humanitarian catastrophe a toxic mix of renewed conflict and a major Ebola epidemic. Conflict in the Kivu has its origins in the Rwanda genocide and the breakdown of the authoritarian state created by Mobutu. Well-organised elites both inside and outside the country manipulate the conflict for economic gain (such as illegal mineral extraction) and political gain (especially around major elections). Despite one of the world's largest UN peacekeeping forces, dozens of large-scale militia forces act with impunity across the region. The region is also home to a volcano, Nyamuragira, which has had multiple eruptions (2002, 2010, 2011 and 2014) creating important damages in terms of local livelihoods. Over the medium-term, climate change has already affected the choice of staple crops for peasant farmers, and has affected the choices of large-scale plantation owners, often with negative consequences for their dependants.

Yet despite these challenges, communities in both regions find innovative ways to manage economically and socially, forced to adapt against a backdrop of constant change and insecurity. Learning how survivors organise to recover from major shocks, crisis and stressors, and how aid actors can best support these efforts, is therefore a central question to address one of the greatest global challenges of our time. Sharing this knowledge could help build resilience more widely but needs to be done through media and methods that resonate. Often this is about those who have experienced such adaptations telling stories; and about identifying with the storyteller or the common experience.

Our methodology will combine approaches from anthropology, history, political economy, participatory research and story-telling. Our interdisciplinary, international team will bring together social science, arts and humanities researchers with diverse thematic and regional experience essential to the project.

Planned Impact

This research aims to improve the social learning processes of local communities faced with multiple shocks. There is a particular trauma in these communities as a result of conflict and wars, epidemics, and natural hazard disasters that is often misinterpreted as despair. They are also frequently ignored or misunderstood by humanitarian workers, national governments and global policy makers. However, their experiences and practices are an opportunity to learn from and about them and bring about positive changes, which this research will actively contribute to.

Beneficiaries of this research are:

a) local communities faced with multiple shocks;
b) humanitarian aid workers working in West and Central Africa;
c) national governments implementing the SDGs;
d) global humanitarian policy makers; and
e) researchers in humanitarian studies.

Local communities exposed to humanitarian hazards and risks will benefit from the research by sharing and learning from each other's experiences and ways of developing individual and community forms of resilience. The research will produce practical insights of repertoires of stories of individual and community forms of resilience. These repertoires will be shared and diffused through storytellers, including arts, music and drama to make it more accessible and entertaining for these communities.

Humanitarian aid workers will benefit from the research, by getting practical insights and workable ideas on the types of community strategies that effectively build resilience. The project's participatory methods will provide a platform to co-produce improvements in humanitarian thinking between the three local communities in each country, the country advisory board and the research consortium. Broader lessons will be derived from the research that will benefit other countries and decision makers facing similar multiple humanitarian challenges.

The national governments in each country will also benefit on the neglected issue between the links of community forms of resilience and survivor-led humanitarian response and reconstruction on the one hand and the implementation of the SDGs, in particular SDGs - 1 (Poverty), 3 (Health), 5 (Gender), 10 (inequalities), 13 (Climate) and 16 (Peace) on the other.

Members of the wider global humanitarian community and researchers will benefit from new interdisciplinary networks and collaborations across the fields of disaster risk reduction, health pandemics preparedness and response, peacebuilding and new methodologies across art/humanities/social sciences to capture bottom-up responses to protracted humanitarian crises.

Our participatory methodology will enable each community to clarify their priorities and perspectives, which, in addition to the activities set out in the pathways to impact, will result in enhanced understandings and integration of diverse perspectives on survivor-led humanitarian response and reconstruction. This will enable more nuanced and locally sensitive policies to address humanitarian shocks and challenges.

This new approach, which will be rooted in ethnographic understandings of social, political and cultural histories, processes and practices, will deepen systems and resilience thinking. It will contribute practically to approaches to humanitarian systems strengthening policies and to ensuring that positive lessons are learned and supported from these multiple shocks.
 
Description This project is investigating "Islands of Innovation" in Cote d'Ivoire and DRC. It is interested in finding out how individual and community forms of resilience develop in the face of multiple crises and the relationship between these forms of resilience and equity. Ultimately, establishing the existence of these 'islands of innovation' will help inquire about the basis for broader structural transformation. Almost half-way into the project, we have identified communities that can be seen as "islands of innovation". Going forward, we will examine the relationship between these bottom-up resilience practices and equity.

So far, a scoping exercise has been conducted in the two project countries to identify communities and different regions that have faced/are facing multiple crises. This was achieved through consulting with country experts, carrying desk research, database triangulation, and reaching out to local publics using radio or partners' local networks. We thus obtained a "long list" of communities facing multiple crises, which the first phase of fieldwork conducted by our local partners then helped narrow down to the most significant in every country.

As such, the following areas/communities have been retained in Cote d'Ivoire: Grand Lahou, Abidjan and Bouna. In DRC, we have found that the areas of Kinshasa, Kwikwit, and South Kivu deserve to be studied further. Subsequently, preliminary interviews conducted by local residents in these communities have allowed us to confirm the extent of multiple crises faced by these communities. These interviews also help establish social and cultural practices that amount to resilience against the impact of multiple crises. The following fieldwork phases will seek to trace these practices in more detail, in terms of origin and construction in order to uncover the intricate relationships amongst them on the one hand, and between them and the crises on the other hand.
Exploitation Route Too early to say
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Security and Diplomacy

URL https://www.ids.ac.uk/projects/islands-of-innovation-in-protracted-crises-a-new-approach-to-building-equitable-resilience-from-below/
 
Description As this project is still ongoing, we can only address the award impact based on current preliminary findings. Research collaboration: with four different partners from two countries involved in the award, project implementation so far has fostered North/South and South/South research collaboration. Research partners have collaborated in designing research tools, organising workshops, and co-writing. In the future, a partner from Ivory Cote d'Ivoire is expected to travel to DRC and vice-versa for further research experience exchange. Moreover, bringing together in each country experts from the social sciences, and those from the Arts and Humanity has strengthened the interdisciplinary dimension of the project. Raising awareness of local resilience capacity: Outreach activities such as engaging local radio and the first round of interviews with "Islands of Innovation" community members have raised awareness amongst these communities about their own practices as forms of resilience. The interview process has enabled respondents to reflect on their social context, reconsider their learning processes, and regard their vernacular responses to crises as positive practices. Medium to long-term impact: As the project continues to develop, we expect communities to actively participated in the production of artefacts that responses to crises to equity and to artistic/cultural expressions.
First Year Of Impact 2021
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Security and Diplomacy
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description Global Resilience Partnership (GRP) 
Organisation Stockholm Resilience Centre
Country Sweden 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution - Contributed to discussions / workshops on : Creating a safe space for resilience innovation & scaling, Promoting shared learning & mainstreaming of resilience practice, Convening diverse voices to shape resilience policy & investment, Advancing the collective knowledge about resilience - Contributed to establishing criteria list for "seeds of resilience"
Collaborator Contribution - Organised the workshops - Set up a database for resilience building local interventions, innovations and experiments that are showing potential to be nurtured and scaled and contribute towards peace & stability - Coordinated criteria list for examples of resilience building local interventions
Impact Outcomes: Criteria list for examples of resilience Pilot collection of Seeds in database Detailed work plan (activities, roles, regions to work in, a set of deliverables) for 2021.
Start Year 2020
 
Description In-Country Local Research Partnerships 
Organisation Félix Houphouët-Boigny University
Department Arts and Communication (UFR ICA)
Country Cote d'Ivoire 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution - Contributed to the process of setting up the project Advisory Board - Organised workshops (online) on project methodology and data collection -
Collaborator Contribution - Provided key field information to help develop stakeholder mapping - Collected field data for Project - Contributed to project visibility (blogs)
Impact This collaboration is multi-disciplinary as it brings togethers specialists from Social Sciences and Arts & Humanities Outputs: 4 blog pieces Outcome: Field data collected by all four partners in two countries for the first phase out of four planned Advisory Board on Resilience and Crises in Côte d'Ivoire Outreach to communities via local radio stations in Côte d'Ivoire
Start Year 2020
 
Description In-Country Local Research Partnerships 
Organisation Félix Houphouët-Boigny University
Department Laboratoire de Sociologie Economique et d’Anthropologie des Appartenances Symboliques
Country Cote d'Ivoire 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution - Contributed to the process of setting up the project Advisory Board - Organised workshops (online) on project methodology and data collection -
Collaborator Contribution - Provided key field information to help develop stakeholder mapping - Collected field data for Project - Contributed to project visibility (blogs)
Impact This collaboration is multi-disciplinary as it brings togethers specialists from Social Sciences and Arts & Humanities Outputs: 4 blog pieces Outcome: Field data collected by all four partners in two countries for the first phase out of four planned Advisory Board on Resilience and Crises in Côte d'Ivoire Outreach to communities via local radio stations in Côte d'Ivoire
Start Year 2020
 
Description In-Country Local Research Partnerships 
Organisation National Institute of Arts
Country Congo, the Democratic Republic of the 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution - Contributed to the process of setting up the project Advisory Board - Organised workshops (online) on project methodology and data collection -
Collaborator Contribution - Provided key field information to help develop stakeholder mapping - Collected field data for Project - Contributed to project visibility (blogs)
Impact This collaboration is multi-disciplinary as it brings togethers specialists from Social Sciences and Arts & Humanities Outputs: 4 blog pieces Outcome: Field data collected by all four partners in two countries for the first phase out of four planned Advisory Board on Resilience and Crises in Côte d'Ivoire Outreach to communities via local radio stations in Côte d'Ivoire
Start Year 2020
 
Description In-Country Local Research Partnerships 
Organisation National Pedagogical University
Country Congo, the Democratic Republic of the 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution - Contributed to the process of setting up the project Advisory Board - Organised workshops (online) on project methodology and data collection -
Collaborator Contribution - Provided key field information to help develop stakeholder mapping - Collected field data for Project - Contributed to project visibility (blogs)
Impact This collaboration is multi-disciplinary as it brings togethers specialists from Social Sciences and Arts & Humanities Outputs: 4 blog pieces Outcome: Field data collected by all four partners in two countries for the first phase out of four planned Advisory Board on Resilience and Crises in Côte d'Ivoire Outreach to communities via local radio stations in Côte d'Ivoire
Start Year 2020
 
Description Blog Post: 'Choisir entre goudron et nourriture: les artistes musiciens et la politique en Côte d'Ivoire' 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Blog post titled 'Choisir entre goudron et nourriture: les artistes musiciens et la politique en Côte d'Ivoire' wirtten by Professeur Hien Sié from the l'Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny d'Abidjan. The blog is published on the project site Ivoiroland at https://ivoiroland.org/.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://ivoiroland.org/2020/11/01/choisir-entre-goudron-et-nourriture-les-artistes-musiciens-et-la-p...
 
Description Blog Post: 'La perception culturelle de la maladie en RDC et ses leçons de résilience' 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Blog post titled 'La perception culturelle de la maladie en RDC et ses leçons de résilience' written by André Yoka Lye and Jean Marie Ngaki Kosi. The blog is published on the project website RD Congo Resiliences Et Resistances, accessible here: https://resiliencecongo.org/.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://resiliencecongo.org/2020/11/12/la-perception-culturelle-de-la-maladie-en-rdc-et-ses-lecons-d...
 
Description Blog Post: 'Les parties politiques à l'épreuve du Coronavirus: entre réponse à la pandémie et enjeux politiques en Côte d'Ivoire' 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Blog post titled 'Les parties politiques à l'épreuve du Coronavirus: entre réponse à la pandémie et enjeux politiques en Côte d'Ivoire' written by Dr Bley Hyacinthe Digbeugby. The blog is published on the project website here: https://ivoiroland.org/.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://ivoiroland.org/2021/01/27/les-parties-politiques-a-lepreuve-du-coronavirus-entre-reponse-a-l...
 
Description Blog post : Côte d'Ivoire election violence highlights flaws of resilient political system 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact IDS Opinion piece published on the IDS website by Pr Jeremy Allouche, Project PI
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.ids.ac.uk/opinions/cote-divoire-election-violence-highlights-flaws-of-resilient-politica...
 
Description Blog post : Entre résilience et résistance: les enjeux populaires de la (sur)vie face à la pandémie du covid-19 à Abidjan 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Written by Dr. KANDO Soumahoro Amédée, one our project partners based in Ivory Coat, and published on the country-dedicated project blogsite
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://ivoiroland.org/2020/08/21/entre-resilience-et-resistance-les-enjeux-populaires-de-la-survie-...
 
Description Blog post: Faut-il améliorer les solutions d'en-haut ou apprendre des crises passées ? 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Written by Jeremy Allouche and Dieunedort Wandji
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://ivoiroland.org/2020/08/01/faut-il-ameliorer-les-solutions-den-haut-ou-apprendre-des-epidemie...
 
Description Blog post: Les artistes ivoiriens face à la pandémie Covid-19 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Blog post co-written by Dieunedort Wandji and one the Project Partners based in Ivory Coast, Prof. Hien Sie
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://ivoiroland.org/2020/08/28/les-artistes-ivoiriens-face-a-la-pandemie-covid-19/
 
Description Blog post: Les formes de résiliences ivoiriennes face aux crises multiples : un kaléidoscope culturel et géographique 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Blog post published on one of the project's blogsite by Jeremy Allouche and Dieunedort Wandji
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://ivoiroland.org/2020/07/30/les-formes-de-resiliences-ivoiriennes-face-aux-crises-multiples-un...
 
Description Blog post: Responses to Covid-19 must focus on communities and not just past epidemics 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Blog post written by Jeremy Allouche and Dieunedort Wandji titled 'Responses to Covid-19 must focus on communities and not just past pandemics' published on the LSE website.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/africaatlse/2020/04/06/responses-lessons-covid19-ebola-focus-on-communities-...
 
Description Blog: 'Comment la zone de la protection humanitaire est-elle définie sur le plan opérationnel? Une rencontre problématique avec la RDC et son autre côté' 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Blog post titled 'Comment la zone de la protection humanitaire est-elle définie sur le plan opérationnel? Une rencontre problématique avec la RDC et son autre côté' written by Professor Jeremy Allouche and published on the project webpage: https://resiliencecongo.org/.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Creation of a blog site 'RD Congo Resiliences et Resistances' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Launching of the blog site 'RD Congo Resiliences et Resistances' which has now published several blogs.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://resiliencecongo.org
 
Description Exchange with Nick Dyer. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Informal exchange with Nick Dyer, UK Special Envoy for Famine Prevention and Humanitarian to introduce and discuss the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Human Rights Festival (Geneva) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact To be fur
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Launching of blog site 'Ivoiroland' 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Creation of blog titled 'Ivoiroland' which features blogs on themes relating to social and cultural research in Côte d'Ivoire. The blog aims to create a conversation around these themes. Blog posts are mainly written by the project lead Jeremy Allouche and other project partners.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://ivoiroland.org/
 
Description Local Radios in Côte d'Ivoire 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact As part of this project's data collection process, members of the public were invited through radio adverts to reports examples of resilience practices in their communities. This announcements enables the general public to link local crises with the ways in which people organised individually or collectively to withstand/overcome the crises.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Radio Interview on 2020 Presidential Elections in Ivory Coast 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Jeremy Allouche gave an interview to KPFK radio "KPFK is a progressive media outlet challenging corporate media perspectives and providing a voice to voiceless communities. Help keep KPFK a strong and independent source of music, arts, news and information."
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.kpfk.org/archives/