Complex Crises: The challenge of finding and sharing evidence
In the lives of the world's poorest people the repercussions of 2008's global financial crisis are just one of a recent series of severe and sustained shocks - including food and fuel price hikes, changing climate, HIV/AIDS epidemics and concerns about security. A recent workshop at IDS, convened by Crisis Watch, explored how these different shocks are interacting to affect people's lives and how we can better monitor these impacts to inform government policies that help people become more resilient.
‘The workshop confirmed that the evidence base on the detail of the day to day, human impacts of the crises is still small,' said Prof. Allister McGregor, IDS Research Fellow and Crisis Watch convener. ‘But there was also a broadly held view that financial crisis of 2008-09 has not yet fully played out for many developing countries and we are now only just beginning to see the second round of impacts - so it's vital that we continue to monitor what's happening both in households and communities.'
The workshop brought together different organisations with individuals and communities to share their observations of the impacts of the crisis on poverty. The UN's Global Impact and Vulnerability Alert System (GIVAS), one of Crisis Watch's partners, is beginning to develop the capacity to generate real-time information on how the ongoing crisis is increasing some people's vulnerability but not others.
Even in those economies which are apparently still experiencing significant growth evidence suggests that some of the poorest people are becoming more vulnerable - but coping strategies vary. The workshop explored how in some economies formal social protection has played a very important role, while in others it has been largely irrelevant. ‘It's quite clear that governments need to re-imagine their role within these compound global crises,' commented Robert Kirkpatrick of UN GIVAS. ‘Often the greatest value a government can provide to its citizens is support for adaptive coping strategies. It's been very interesting to consider what kinds of policies might help affected communities help themselves.'
The challenge of sharing evidence
‘One of the challenges is now to synthesise the wealth of information to make sure that the right information gets to the right people at the right time,' commented Tim Conway from the UK Department for International Development. ‘How can we learn from the really good work that's been done and make sure that it's fed back into longer-term processes?'
This is the challenge that Crisis Watch - a new initiative that will track the poverty impacts of global economic shocks - aims to answer. It is hosted by the Centre for Social Protection at IDS and offers a space for researchers, policymakers and practitioners to share evidence and approaches, to strengthen global capacity to monitor shocks and generate evidence for crisis-response policies.
Crisis Watch is part of IDS' Reimagining Development initiative, which brings together 34 research projects exploring crises and responses to crises. The initiative aims to identify new thoughts and ideas on international development from across the globe and to bring them together to build a new consensus on the conduct and performance of international development in the 21st century.
Image: Jusin Jin/ Panos
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