What forms do major crises take around the world today?
Charles Tellier : They are much more multifaceted than they used to be. These crises originate in the internal conflicts of countries. They are generally due to difficulties of sharing power or economic or natural resources. The hotbed of these tensions is a broken social contract, which excludes certain communities and benefits others.
The long-term impact is another characteristic of these crises. Firstly because refugees leave their homes for a long time: on average, they stay in their host country for 17 years. In addition, there are 65 million internally displaced persons and refugees around the world today. These population displacements – especially refugees to neighboring countries – pose a challenge for the countries concerned, in terms of their own public services and their capacity to host these populations, in regions which are often remote and where there are few basic services.
How does this change development aid practices?
We need to break away from the mindset of refugee camps and take action on crises via an integrated approach, based on humanitarian emergency and long-term social and economic development. All populations must be taken into account equally, within a framework of inclusive development: refugees, but also host communities, which are themselves often faced with considerable insecurity and who sometimes feel they are worse off than the refugees.
This requires specific support and a much stronger partnership-based approach allowing action to be taken simultaneously on the “3Ds”: diplomacy, defence and development. While AFD does not finance defence and security projects, our mandate involves building the social contract of tomorrow thanks to our development actions. However, in conflict-stricken areas, it requires knowing how to take these security issues into account if we want to be relevant. The objective is to take action on all the economic, territorial and educational inequalities, but also on gender inequalities, as they are the root causes of these current conflicts.
I would add a fourth “D”, for local dynamics: development must come about from the population, via the State if it is able to represent the general interest, or directly from inhabitants, so that they themselves define their priority needs and lead the demand to rebuild the broken social ties.
What are AFD’s main tools for action?
We are fully aware of the difficulty of the task and the new tools which need to be invented. For example, we have had a specific tool for financial leverage since last year: the Minka Peace and Resilience Fund. This fund allows us to finance new types of actions and build new types of partnerships in the field. For example, we can build projects with local or international NGOs in difficult regions which were previously inaccessible. Minka focuses on the root causes of crises to stop them from spreading or happening again. This is the first component of our “hyper-partnership” approach.
The Sahel Alliance is the other component of our commitment to partnerships, with the major institutional actors (other donors, key UN agencies, etc.). How to have the best impact as rapidly as possible in the Sahel region, with a limited number of sectors considered as being very important, in partnership with the G5 Sahel countries? The response to this challenge calls for a mutual pact. We can do better, but not alone.
We need to be able to assist these Sahel States in all their missions: education, health, territorial and economic development, etc. More generally, and beyond the Sahel region, it involves integrating all the parameters of crises so that they can be addressed over the long term with all stakeholders, and stopping them from happening again or even happening in the first place.