Politics of social assistance in protracted crises online discussion, Mon 13 - Fri 17 June 2022

Welcome to a week-long online discussion about the politics of social assistance in protracted crises, co-facilitated by Jeremy Lind and Becky Carter from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS).

This online discussion is the second in a series of four, which will run throughout June, as part of the Better Assistance in Crises (BASIC) Research programme and kindly co-hosted by socialprotection.org. This second e-discussion on politics will be structured and moderated around three topic areas (one per day, Mon - Wed):

  • Topic one: Building effective interlinkages between humanitarian and development social assistance in protracted crises
  • Topic two: Engaging with the state (and non-state groups) in conflict situations
  • Topic three: Understanding domestic (national and sub-national) politics and governance

On Wednesday 15 June, we will also have a one-hour informal hangout at 2pm (GMT +1), where we will discuss both the politics of social assistance as well as issues around accountability – the focus of a BASIC Research e-discussion the week of 20 June. For more information see attached e-discussion guide.

The purpose of the discussion is to bring practitioners, researchers, policymakers, and anyone interested to engage and promote a realistic and forward-looking research and policy agenda for targeting social assistance in acute and protracted crises – through BASIC Research and beyond. 

To participate in this e-discussion, please make sure you have registered on the socialprotection.org platform (see instructions in attached guide). You will then be able to add comments/replies to the thread below. If you have any difficulties please reach out to the moderator of the discussion, Tina Nelis, via email at: [email protected]. We kindly ask all participants to be respectful of the views of others.  


Tomorrow (Mon 13 June), we will kick off with Topic one: Building effective interlinkages between humanitarian and development social assistance in protracted crises … watch this space!


Topic 1. Building effective interlinkages between humanitarian and development social assistance in protracted crises

Good morning everyone, we are excited to be starting this week’s discussion with you on the politics of social assistance in protracted crises. Our discussion this week is organised around a number of big themes and questions that seem pertinent at the global level. But this is not to close off debate to other questions and angles that you might want to raise, and we encourage you to do so.

In BASIC Research, so far we have been seeking to understand the politics of social assistance from two directions – from the global level (including looking at how global actors at the interface of social protection and humanitarian assistance engage differently with states / national polities) and also from the perspective of frontline delivery (exploring politics and governance at the sub-national level and below in protracted crises and the challenges of introducing more programmed types of social assistance in places with various public authority mixes). We’ll refer to some of this work during the week, as it has also shaped the questions and themes we’ve identified for discussion this week.

To get us started with the topic for today, there has been a push in recent years for closer working between humanitarian and development social assistance in settings characterised by contested public authority, conflict and displacement (as set out in the BASIC Research framing paper). This includes the longer-term aim … to progressively move chronic humanitarian caseloads into social protection systems where possible (SPIAC-B Joint Statement 2016).

Yet, the political economy of the global aid system and individual donors and aid agencies may not automatically support strengthened coordination and alignment, due to distinct humanitarian and development mandates, objectives, approaches and pressures (on funding, accountability, capacity and approaches to risk, for example).

Questions we are exploring include:

What trends/dynamics/factors are driving the push to align humanitarian aid with national social protection systems in protracted crises?

Is it always beneficial to seek closer working across humanitarian assistance and social protection stakeholder communities in countries? Are there situations (within protracted crises) when keeping channels separate would support more effective social assistance?

Does anyone have examples of the different ways in which humanitarian and social protection stakeholders, respectively, have approached closer working, coordination and delivery – and of the political and institutional enablers and barriers for more effective coordination?

Hi all, looking forward to the week’s discussion. One point I’d love to hear more on is the particular challenges faced by dual/multi mandate organisations trying to achieve more effective humanitarian-development interlinkages. In their BASIC Research paper, Paul Harvey and Habiba Mohamed found little explicit analysis of potential  tensions, ‘particularly problematic in conflict settings where government has a responsibility to assist and protect, but is also party to the conflict and does not control parts of a country or have access to those most in need’. The recent evaluation of UNICEF’s work to link humanitarian and development programming highlights the need for practical guidance on how to uphold humanitarian principles of neutrality and independence when linking humanitarian and development programmes - there is clear guidance in the UNICEF programme framework for fragile contexts. Have other organisations produced similar guidance?

In Ukraine at the moment there are lots of strong arguments for aid actors (development and humanitarian) to be linking better with the national social protection system. That's going on to a degree - Government of Ukraine sharing data with WFP, UNICEF, the Red Cross and others to add people to humanitarian cash transfer programmes. But we still have multiple parallel humanitarian cash programmes and coordination was arguably slower than it should have been (https://www.humanitarianoutcomes.org/Ukraine_review_June_2022 The reasons for slowness seem to have been less about potilics (this is a government that donor's trust enough to send billions of $ worth of weapons to) and more about systems. Aid systems jsut aren't set up to allow direct support to national social protection systems early in a crisis. Ukraine is also an example of where you do need separate humanitarian channels and principled approaches to negotation with all parties to the conflict to get aid to people in Russian held areas. 

Important topic. Just to provide thoughts quickly to to Becky and Paul:

So in WFP there are a lot of internal resources analysing how we engage in conflict settings, including tools, training and guidance for conflict sensitive programming. Below are links for some resources:


There isn't a formal guidance of how to engage specifically with social protection in FCAS, but we are in fact currently working on something like that. 

In terms of particular challenges of dual mandate organisations, that would take quite a bit to unpack, but I think it can very much be part of a strategic investment of an international "humanitarian" organisation to engage with and strengthen national systems, particularly in situation of protracted crisis, just like it is arguably a "development" responsibility to strengthen the domestic "humanitarian/shock response" capacity of national authorities.

On Ukraine, I think an initial phase of different actors implementing their respective playbooks was inevitable, but the discussion of engaging on national SP started right from the first wave. The government data sharing allowed for a ten-fold scale-up of payments in the space of weeks, as well as opening doors to more medium-term strengthening of the national SP framework which still has numerous inefficiencies and challenges, particularly since the start of the war, and particularly on topics of MIS, targeting, payments etc. Again, this might seem as a "development" approach in the long run (and hence enters a contested political space of international organisations and donors on different sides of the nexus), but in the short and medium term this has the strong potential to directly benefit more efficient, rapid, and holistic humanitarian operations. I agree with Paul that aid systems are not typically set up to do this from the beginning, but Ukraine is an important case of where this makes sense and has allowed real attempts and experiences to emerge. 

Of course, humanitarian support via the Ukraine government triggers important questions around "neutrality", even if the intension is purely lifesaving and resilience building, it may at some point negatively affect access to non-government-controlled areas. This type of analysis should constantly be conducted, but in the end, there are simply complex non-linear trade-offs, and actors should seek to minimise possible negative effectives of both action and inaction to conflict dynamics and vulnerability of people in need, and maximising opportunities and potential positive contributions. 

On the questions of the day: 

1. What trends/dynamics/factors are driving the push to align humanitarian aid with national social protection systems in protracted crises?

Main debates/developments include Grand Bargain and Nexus, global experiences with humanitarian cash coordination, COVID-19 which put SP systems on the forefront, increasing global threats such as economic crisis, food prices, disease, environment and climate catastrophe and forced displacement showing the inability of international aid actors to response, and the importance of rapidly strengthening SP systems. At the same time there is pathway dependency in the form of "tried and tested" protocols and operations that form the paradigm for many organisations and donors, so making that switch often feels like unchartered waters for organisations that are concerns about minimising risks, particularly in complex emergencies that are marred by uncertainty.  

2. Is it always beneficial to seek closer working across humanitarian assistance and social protection stakeholder communities in countries? Are there situations (within protracted crises) when keeping channels separate would support more effective social assistance?

Firstly, it would be important to understand what “closer working” entail. For example if it to share data and transfer caseloads from and to national systems or piggyback on operational modalities to improve humanitarian efficiency, that is different from engaging on policy and programmatic work to strengthen domestic systems and capacity to respond, and requires a very different engagement of staff, programming and timelines.

I believe it is always beneficial in any crisis for these actors to seek to collaborate over time, but not always possible, especially in the short term. There are clear situations in which national stakeholders and communities cannot be said to share the same principles, where systems exclude key vulnerable groups, or where there are red flags. And indeed, if there is political fragmentation in different parts of the channel you need a differentiated approach to different actors and regions, but if you engage with “system strengthening” this might jeopardise the organisations’ perceived neutrality. So, every case should be treated uniquely, but you can broadly say that a constant analysis of key actors, drivers of conflict, forces for change etc. needs to be made and both "humanitarian" and "development" operations as well as donors need to be flexible to engage on specific moments and opportunities for system building when they present themselves.

With that said, I again underscore that whilst maintain open channels of dialogue with key actors, it is not always (or not yet) possible in many cases to do system strengthening. There are many instances in which international assistance, outside any formal national system, is imperative to save lives and prevent catastrophe. The system building is an important “nice to have” in a complex emergency, but it requires multiple factors to align, which no single actor or set of actors controls.

3. Does anyone have examples of the different ways in which humanitarian and social protection stakeholders, respectively, have approached closer working, coordination and delivery – and of the political and institutional enablers and barriers for more effective coordination?

There is quite a lot of literature, but probably a lot of experience exists in the heads of front-line responders – not just of success stories, but maybe importantly of where things didn’t work, but no one likes to broadcast problems or set-backs.

Ukraine I think is a very important example, though a highly specific context where enablers included the existence of a mature social protection system and high institutional capacity despite an active conflict, and where there is a lot of talk about SP and coordinating but now words need to be put into action. The Sahel offers numerous experiences on engaging SP systems for aid following COVID-19 in a setting of high institutional fragility, weak administrative and financial capacity and significant challenges faced by climate change. Somalia offers an example of a protracted crisis where international actors have increasingly had to work with governments, but in a setting that is highly dependent on donors and external technical support. Ethiopia offers a fascinating example of where a national SP system was seemingly functioning well but underpinned by significant dependency on national and sub-national political forces where a lesson could be drawn that as much as we'd like to do nexus programming and system strengthening, political dynamics will probably have a greater weight than external financial and international principles.

All such cases merit closer study to see what the approach was for humanitarian and development SP actors to engaging with local, national, and international actors for different elements of the delivery chain, how that was driven through into short- and medium- term decision making, how adaptable operations were to new developments and changes. Looking retroactively with an SP-nexus lens could help identify key lessons that can serve as best practices, red flags/red lines, and important opportunities. But moving forward we need to accept that each case is unique, it will ultimately be about ways of working of individual organisations as well as coordination platforms, phased approaches in crises, doing effective and regular conflict and political economy analysis.

Thanks Vincent for all of these thought-provoking reflections, you give us so much food for thought! Thank you for highlighting the very different country examples. Many of the contexts that BASIC Research focusses on are affected by protracted conflict and displacement, i.e. Yemen, north-east Nigeria, Niger, Mali, Afghanistan, Somalia etc. In these contexts, unlike Ukraine which is in an early stage of a crisis, politics likely matters a great deal more to the ways in which SP and humanitarian actors work together or do not. While global debates might push for more and improved coordination, 'tried and tested' (as you put it) approaches are usually sticking for a reason and will be difficult to budge. And should they budge, especially if parallel systems are able to have the reach and quality of provision to a differentiated and sometimes hard to reach population in need?

I like your suggestion of a retrospective that learns lessons around best practices, red flags/lines and opportunities.

Finally, and relatedly, learning from where things didn't work (what happened, what was tried and what might have been done differently) - it is human nature for many of us to learn more from 'failure' than success, we need spaces to share and broadcast these experiences!

Thank you to all who have commented today. We will be running this e-discussion for the rest of the week so there is plenty of time to engage. Tomorrow, we will be diving into questions and perspectives around engaging with the state (and non-state groups) in conflict situations. Feel free to share thoughts, challenges, questions, anecdotes – the more the merrier!

And if you want to catch up and contribute to last week’s e-discussion on targeting, you can access the discussion here.


Hello everyone, and welcome to day 2 of the e-dialogue, where today we will dive into questions and perspectives around engaging with the state (and non-state groups) in conflict situations.

The role of the state, and how humanitarian and development actors engage with the state and other domestic agents (such as non-state armed groups), is at the heart of how political economy shapes the provision of social assistance in crises (as set out in the 2020 CaLP paper on Linking Social Protection and Humanitarian Cash and Voucher Assistance ). A central concern in conflict situations is how to uphold commitments on the primary responsibility of the state to assist and protect, and ensure operationalisation of humanitarian principles (of humanity, neutrality, impartiality, independence) while working with government-run social assistance. Questions we’re working on – and welcome your thoughts on – include:

  • Is humanitarian-development coordination in protracted crises supporting effective engagement with states and non-state groups on social assistance? How could this be improved?
  • Are there examples of where humanitarian and development engagement with 1) the government and 2) non-state armed groups have successfully led to more effective response to meeting poor and vulnerable people’s needs through social assistance during a protracted crisis? Or to longer-term strengthening of national social protection systems?

*And discussion remains open on yesterday’s discussion so please feel free to reply to anything raised above!

My interest in this question concerns what we are supposed to do (ethically / strategically) about political blockages that prevent meaningful engagement with political authorities who are, realistically, 'in control' but not recognised as "legitimate." Here of course, I'm thinking of places like Lebanon and Yemen.  

This legitimacy-gap could come from their "own" populations, or from international governments / systems. But if the humanitarian system withdraws, is it not the case that the relative importance of party-led sectarian / loyality driven assistance inceases, which is, of course, not always distributed not on the basis of need (though sometimes it might be, just need within the group). But then, does working through these groups not also risk providing resources that themselves could be fed back into the parallel system>    

If this is to be improved,  humanitarians will need, in my view, to find a way to delicately balance core values like neutrality with political realism. But how can this be achieved?

In Libya, for example, last year, on behalf of WFP, I supported the Government in assessing the performance of its national social protection system using the Core Diagnostic Instrument (CODI). The findings suggested that while the government-owned social protection system collapsed, the Zakat system (widely used form of Islamic social assistance) delivered assistance to the poorest and most vulnerable Libyan households, even under conditions of conflict, with fragmented and contested state authority. 

The Libyan experience suggests, as also argued here (Providing social assistance and humanitarian relief: The case for embracing uncertainty), that centralized, bureaucratic and governmental systems are not always the best fit to deal with conflict but more broadly with any type of uncertainties. In the international clique of social protection actors, social protection is defined as government-owned and programmes are embedded in standard approaches based on stability, control, and the ability to manage risk through a functioning formal system. All these things are rarely successful in conflict and protracted crisis - contexts where reliable assistance at scale is need it the most. 

I think the Zakat’s examples potentially opens for a new policy agenda in social protection that requires different ways of doing things that moves away from a view that capacities need to be built or developed from scratch (normative and high modernist approach) towards a strong appreciation of existing local capacities, context and stakeholder priorities. Such approaches must build on embedded practices of moral economy, collective action, and mutual care and be supported through professional and institutional capacities that generate reliability.

On humanitarian and development coordination with states - the obvious answer is it depends on where. Some good sounding stuff in Iraq, slow to start but making progress in Ukraine, going nowhere last time I heard in DRC etc. Hopefully agreement on where humanitarian cash coordination sits might improve things - but the real gap in many protracted crises seems to be on development coordination on social protection leaving humanitarian actors with challenges on what to coordinate with. Coordinating with non-state actors gets you into the whole impact of counter-terrorism discussion.  

Important point Paul that context is everything - a point that Vincent emphasises, as well. For each case, the question needs to be asked 'coordination of what and whom? in whose interests? and with what consequences?' This speaks to the political economy that will determine what level of coordination is feasible and appropriate in each case. There is also a risk in this discussion of valorising the state as the key to more systematic and effective provision. But the examples highlighted elsewhere in this chat show the range of other providers in protracted crises that are just as (if not more) critical to providing life-saving and livelihood-enhancing assistance and support. 

Your point on the gap in coordination got me thinking Paul about whether the focus on development-humanitarian coordination with state social assistance, has helped push on donor harmonisation? Back in 2018 a WFP-WB study on better connecting humanitarian assistance and SP discusses trade-offs between programme accountability/ownership, reporting requirements for governments, and agreeing pre-crisis standardised operational reporting templates between World Bank and UN agencies (page 39). Are there examples of progress on this kind of donor harmonisation in delivery SA in protracted crises?

On the question: 'is humanitarian-development coordination in protracted crises supporting effective engagement with states and non-state groups on social assistance? How could this be improved?i

It got me thinking about who gets access to 'formal' SP and humanitarian assistance, who decides how it should be distributed and who is eligible.  In many countries there is a whole plethora of formal, informal, non-formal, NGO-type, faith-based, local care networks...all catering to needs -- needs, that are sometimes overlapping and at other times not.  We often go into a situation without a nuanced understanding of the dynamics of provision and access, or the political sensitivities of formal and less-formal care regimes.  At an extreme, we have situations, such as Lebanon, where SP provision through 'formal public' channels is dwarfed by provision through faith/political- affiliated channels and/or remittance flows, yet this is not explicitly recognised and factored into distribution and provision.   

A recent paper on displacement and social protection usefully highlights the tensions that can arise when one places the types of providers of assistance along an ‘ethics of care – monitoring and containment’ continuum and then overlays this with a considerations of how ‘close’ they are (geographically and socially) to the populations or groups they are claiming to serve,.  Check in out…about half way through the paper: https://www.ids.ac.uk/publications/beyond-rights-based-social-protection...

Something for us to think about as we chart our ways forward in such a complex terrain of providers.


In the discussions around the politics of basic assistance, I'm struck by the general aversion by international humanitarian actors to engage in politics and particularly to contribute via taxes. Taxation / contribution may seem like a very specific issue, but it is indicative of a broader disconnect between humanitarian and social protection approaches that fundamentally make it difficult to strengthen national social protection systems in crisis-affected contexts.

There is an intrinsic tension between wanting to remain apolitical, ensuring the maximum amount of aid goes to affected people, and contributing to government coffers. At the same time, it is rare to find contexts where international organisations operate without the approval (or at the very least, awareness/begrudging consent) of the government. In acute crises, international actors may even use state security escorts to access certain areas. Yet, when governments request a tax on humanitarian aid projects (e.g., paid via indirect costs) it is often disputed by humanitarian actors, especially donors, who see it as an inappropriate use of funds meant to assist the most vulnerable. It can be difficult for government officials to understand this stance, since the majority of public humanitarian funds come from tax revenues.

On the other hand, centralised social protection systems and benefits can be challenging to untangle from national security interests that may compromise humanitarian principles, so it’s often not as simple as contributing to an established mechanism. The social protection system may not be in place or is unable to respond to overwhelming needs (e.g., the drought in the Horn of Africa). There are also sadly inconsistent examples from donor countries of SP systems that welcome and integrate people who are forcibly displaced…

The opportunities for more positive engagement are found in countries where social protection is an emerging priority and can be co-designed for a broader range of people, whether they are citizens or not - currently unfolding in Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia, and other places. These processes aren’t without growing pains, but offer more of a “blank slate” to clearly outline red lines when it comes to politics and contributions.

Hi all,

Thank you for the comments received so far. The discussion continues tomorrow – please do join in. We will be exploring questions around social assistance in protracted crises and understanding domestic (national and sub-national) politics and governance.

Also, don’t forget we will be having the informal hangout tomorrow, Wednesday at 2 pm (GMT +1), on the politics of social assistance and accountability and social assistance in protracted crises. It will be a great opportunity to reflect on the key questions and emergent debates from the current politics e-discussion and prepare the ground for next week's e-dialogue on accountability. Join the hangout tomorrow by following this link.

Thank you,


Really interesting discussion today. I'm currently in Eastern DRC, so preoccupied with the current situation here. The military regime in the provices of North Kivu and Ituru, established a little over a year ago was widely interpreted as a refusal of the government to recognise any legitimate economic basis (and therefore social protection basis) for engagement with non-state armed actors. There is similarly no current basis for International and national humanitarian or development organisations to engage with armed groups, and there is very limited evidence of any previous successful engagement. Yet, particularly in the last six months, the growth in armed activity in the area indicates the short sighted nature of a politics in which the only aim is military victory. In common with much previoius work, our own research here indicates that the armed groups have little to no interest in the welfare of those under their control, yet they are undeniably economic actors. Much current analysis highlights the ways in which they draw on the failure of government led social protection. In the same way that gangs in North American or W European cities depend on a population of disenfranchised, excluded, young (mostly) men , so too does the continued functioning of armed groups depend significantly on the ongoing recruitment of mostly young men whose connections with wider society have been eroded over time. Social protection could only ever form part of a response to this situation and there are certainly other causes, such as the broader geopolitical context in which surrounding countries try to exert influence, but any solution must be a political economic, rather than a purely military one. Social protection clearly has a role to play there, even if there  is only very limited evidence of attempts to develop access in recent years. Armed groups are social protection actors in that they provide an economic alternative, sometimes an attractive alternative, for those who have been failed in other ways. 

Welcome to day 3 of this e-dialogue! Today our focus is understanding domestic (national and sub-national) politics and governance.

Social protection policies increasingly exist at national levels. Politics, resource constraints and the attitudes of those shaping policy influence their implementation. Donors and aid agencies meanwhile are committed to improving links between humanitarian cash and social protection, expanding access to social assistance while also strengthening national systems, even in settings characterised by contested public authority, conflict and displacement. Within these commitments, however, better understanding is needed of how bottom-up politics and governance (and not just technical capacities and limitations) enables and constrains more predictable and routine delivery of social assistance.

- Do political and conflict analyses influence humanitarian and development approaches to social assistance in protracted crises, and in what ways? What room for improvement (and what institutional barriers) exists for 1) the quality of the information and 2) how it is used?
- Does anyone have any examples of how political and conflict analyses feed into global actors’ longer-term goal of supporting national actors’ capacities and resilient social protection systems?

*And, finally, a gentle reminder that there will be an informal hangout later today at 2pm (GMT +1)… Please do join us there or add your thoughts here, we are very grateful for your contributions so far!

Hi all, some resources/findings on this:

Hi all,

It was great to see so many people at the informal hangout today on politics and accountability. We had a really lively discussion that will certainly inform our work going forward, so thank you to all.

Just a reminder that this e-discussion remains open and will continue to be moderated for one more day. We will send round a summary of the discussion at the end of Thursday, so get your posts in while you can! We won’t be listing more topics – please add your responses or new points to the discussion above.

Thanks to all of you who have participated in this e-discussion and joined the hangout.  Below is a summary of points raised and resources shared during the e-discussion.

While we won’t be keeping a watching brief on this chat, it is live, so feel free to keep posting.  We will log on from time to time to catch up.  

We are hoping to have more to discuss later in the year/early next year on the topic of politics in social assistance in crises.  We will keep everyone posted.

All the best and do log on to the new e-discussion that will go live on Monday – it’s going to be all about accountability in social assistance in protracted crises

Jeremy, Becky and Tina


Summary of the politics e-discussion

We’ve spent the week discussing the politics of social assistance in protracted crises. We’ve been coming at this topic from two directions:

The discussion has highlighted key debates and issues for BASIC Research to explore further. Key points raised in the discussion include:

Building effective interlinkages between humanitarian and development social assistance and national social protection systems in protracted crises

Closer working (as set out in the 2016 SPIAC-B Joint Statement) can take very different forms, for example:

  • sharing data and caseloads between national systems and international assistance
  • operational ‘piggybacking’ on national systems to enhance humanitarian efficiency
  • strengthening domestic systems and capacity to respond.

At the start of an emergency, humanitarian response tends not be set up to support coordinated working, with siloed systems and different organisational ‘playbooks’. In Ukraine there has been government-aid agency data sharing and coordination, but slow at the start, and with multiple parallel humanitarian cash programmes (Humanitarian Outcomes brief describing the state of the humanitarian response in Ukraine in the first quarter of the invasion). In protracted crises, aid path dependency of ‘tried and tested’ protocols and operations, and national and sub-national political dynamics, may sustain parallel systems.

Key points raised included:

  • Need to understand in each crisis context whether SP-humanitarian coordination helps or hinders outcomes for differentiated and sometimes hard-to-reach population-in-need.
  • Key questions to ask: 'coordination of what and whom? in whose interests? and with what consequences?'.
  • Retrospective SP-nexus learning (from Ukraine, Somalia, Ethiopia, Iraq, DRC for example) could help identify best practices, red flags/lines, and opportunities – and there could be more space for learning from failures too.

Engaging with the state (and non-state groups) in conflict situations

Vital but complex issues include:

  • ensuring separate humanitarian channels and principled approaches to negotiation with all parties to a conflict (for example in Ukraine). 
  • balancing core humanitarian values such as neutrality and impartiality with political realism, to assist excluded people, and in contexts of contested governance (such as Yemen and Lebanon) and under the control of non-state armed groups (such as in DRC).
  • balancing state system strengthening with risk of jeopardising perceptions of organisational neutrality
  • tensions involved in engaging with states and requests for taxation/contributions
  • working within complex terrains of formal/informal providers: non-state providers can provide vital life-saving support in protracted crises (e.g. Zakat system in Libya).  
  • tension between centralised, bureaucratic and governmental systems, and supporting existing local capacities and stakeholder priorities, embedding practices of moral economy, collective action and mutual care (Providing social assistance and humanitarian relief: The case for embracing uncertainty).
  • challenges for multi-mandate organisations working across the nexus, often not explicitly analysed, requiring practical guidance on how to uphold humanitarian principles of neutrality and independence when linking humanitarian and development programme (evaluation of UNICEF’s work to link humanitarian and development programming; UNICEF programme framework for fragile contexts).

Understanding domestic (national and sub-national) politics and governance

Context matters above all else: with each situation unique, continuous analysis is needed to inform decision-making on complex non-linear trade-offs for conflict dynamics and vulnerable people in need.

Analysis points to room for improvement on aid actors’ use of conflict analyses – as well as programme and management flexibility to adapt and course-correct in rapid crisis contexts (2021 evaluation of World Bank engagement in situations of fragility and conflict; 2022 OECD DAC Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus Interim Progress Review).