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Linking relief and development programming in Wajir, Kenya (Special Supplement 3)

In the early to mid-1990s, Oxfam developed a one programme approach that combined relief, development and advocacy. The Wajir programme, which is described below, is considered throughout Oxfam as a successful application of this approach.

The Wajir Pastoral Development programme

The Wajir Pastoral Development programme (WPDP) started in July 1994. Much of the initial phase was spent developing pastoral associations. The project was designed to span a nine-year period managed in three phases, but has now been extended to 2008. Two kinds of community-level organisations were developed as part of the project. The first are pastoral associations, which pursue a wide range of activities including water-supply development, livestock health, women's income, and education. The second is a network of women's groups in Wajir town, whose primary purpose is to provide a structure through which women can access credit and training in business skills. Both are also channels through which people can represent their interests to government and other actors.

The project's first phase included work with five pastoral development associations, restocking and loans for credit through the women's groups. Government departments were involved in the planning and design of the programme. This was instrumental in influencing the thinking of government staff, and later opening up channels to influence government at national level.

The second phase of the project included capacity building with local authorities in order to have an impact on the district beyond the project areas. Oxfam was instrumental in establishing the Wajir Pastoral Steering Committee (PSC), as a coordinating body for all those working in the pastoral sector. The second phase of the project was marked by almost continuous emergencies, from drought in 1996-7, to floods in 1998, and drought again in 2000. The year 2000 also saw the resumption of inter-clan conflict in the north of the district. The same Oxfam team in Wajir managed the succession of relief activities in addition to the longer term projects.

The third phase seeks to handover programmes through structured mentoring of local NGOs, pastoral associations and the umbrella organisations to enhance the transfer of planning and implementation capacity.

Integrating emergency response with development programming

The success of emergency response has been judged on the basis of emergency preparedness, speed of response and ability to scale up and become operational when necessary. Key factors in the success of linking relief and development programming were:

Many Oxfam staff in Wajir still have close connections with rural pastoral groups (the 'baadia'). This means that they are naturally very concerned about the risks to their community. In addition, the team asked for outside help when needed. Management responsibility for responding to emergencies was gradually incorporated into the job descriptions for every programme manager. A key point in creating the willingness to respond to emergencies was to present working in emergencies as a career opportunity for development staff. When the development programme for Wajir was designed, drought was factored in.

The WPDP has supported drought-monitoring activities throughout the district, and pastoral associations have sometimes proposed drought-mitigation activities.

The analysis and contacts built up during the WPDP were used to design the emergency response between 1996 and 1998. Pastoral associations registered beneficiaries and their longsecretaries were employed as monitors (Birch and Shuria, 2001). Relief activities were consistent with pastoralist livelihood strategies. Food distributions were widely dispersed across the district, with minimal targeting (excluding only salaried people). In addition to nutritional objectives, the purpose of food aid was to stabilise food prices and reduce distress sale of livestock.

Following large scale food distributions in 1997, the Wajir programme carried out several emergency livelihood support interventions as part of the flood recovery programme in 1998. Interventions included CFW, restocking with sheep, goats, milking cows, donkey or camel, and the distribution of seeds and plough oxen. CFW projects included road clearing, school rebuilding, digging of pit latrines, pan de-silting, fencing of dispensaries, town cleaning and duffel making.

There were also disadvantages to implementing relief activities through the development programme structures. For example, Oxfam is now perceived by some to be a resource-rich agency (£4.6 million was spent between 1996 and 1998 on relief, more than five times the amount planned for the development programme) making it increasingly difficult for Oxfam to constructively disengage from the District.

Show footnotes

25This is a summary of a case study in Jaspars et al (2002, August).

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Reference this page

Susanne Jaspars (2006). Linking relief and development programming in Wajir, Kenya (Special Supplement 3). Supplement 3: From food crisis to fair trade, March 2006. p59. www.ennonline.net/fex/103/8-6-1

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