• Report
  • 1 April 2021

Development actors at the nexus: Lessons from crises in Bangladesh, Cameroon and Somalia: Appendix 4



Area-based approaches

Area-based approaches take the geographic area as the organising principle for programming or coordination, rather than a sector or target group. Area-based programming takes an integrated, inclusive and participatory approach to address the specific needs and challenges of a particular area and has been a feature of development practice for over a decade.[1] However, the idea of area-based coordination is relatively new and has begun to gain traction in the humanitarian sector as a complement to the current cluster coordination system.[2]

Collective outcomes

The concept of collective outcomes was conceived by the UN in preparation for and follow-up to the World Humanitarian Summit, and it was recently adopted in the UN–IASC Light Guidance on Collective Outcomes.[3] The IASC defines a collective outcome as:

“A jointly envisioned result with the aim of addressing and reducing needs, risks and vulnerabilities, requiring the combined effort of humanitarian, development and peace communities and other actors as appropriate.”

Contingency financing facilities

These are tools or mechanisms to provide additional funding in order to be able to respond appropriately in advance of, or as quickly as necessary after, a shock such as a sudden-onset natural disaster, public health emergency or economic crisis, or a slower-onset disease or conflict outbreak or food security crisis.


The absence of a common language across humanitarian, development and peace actors is evident from this research, and there is no common understanding of what is meant by ‘crisis’. From the vantage point of development policy, the focus is on fragile and conflict-affected contexts, which can be likened to protracted governance crises where the state does not (or cannot) provide for the wellbeing of the population. Crises are generally understood as unforeseen events that disrupt progressive development, such as natural disasters, health crises, and economic shocks/financial crises. The latter are commonly called ‘sudden-onset’ crises and can of course occur in otherwise ‘stable’ and peaceful countries. From a humanitarian perspective, crises are events that threaten the fundamental wellbeing of the population and, at a practical level, they are contexts requiring an ongoing humanitarian response irrespective of the source(s) or cause(s) of the crisis. For peace actors, the term ‘crisis’ tends to be used interchangeably with ‘conflict’ and broadly encompasses different forms of political violence and instability, which may be single events or protracted situations (war, insurrection, terrorism, civil unrest, etc). These situations overlap but they are not the same. This research focuses specifically on contexts of protracted humanitarian crises in which development, humanitarian and peace actors work alongside each other.


This report focuses explicitly on the role of development actors and actions in protracted humanitarian crisis contexts. Here, we understand ‘development’ as long-term support to developing countries to deliver sustainable solutions for addressing the root causes of poverty, supporting livelihoods and providing basic services, with a particular focus on those in greatest need and furthest behind. The development actors we have specifically focused on in this report are: MDBs, OECD DAC member government entities responsible for development cooperation, and UN entities with a development (or dual humanitarian−development) mandate.

Disaster risk reduction

With the aim of reducing the impact of natural hazards such as floods, earthquakes, cyclones and drought, disaster risk reduction is the practice of anticipating and reducing risk. It implies a systematic approach to analyse and reduce the factors contributing to natural disasters. The UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction gives the following examples of disaster risk reduction: “reducing exposure to hazards, lessening vulnerability of people and property, wise management of land and the environment, and improving preparedness for adverse events.”[4]

Durable solutions

The IASC framework on durable solutions for internally displaced persons provides that:

“A durable solution is achieved when internally displaced persons no longer have any specific assistance and protection needs that are linked to their displacement and can enjoy their human rights without discrimination on account of their displacement. It can be achieved through:

  • Sustainable reintegration at the place of origin
  • Sustainable local integration in areas where internally displaced persons take refuge
  • Sustainable integration in another part of the country.”[5]

Early recovery

An approach that addresses recovery needs arising during the humanitarian phase of an emergency, implementing humanitarian programmes in a way that aligns with development principles with the aim of catalysing sustainable development opportunities. The multidimensional process of recovery begins in the early days of a humanitarian response. The IASC Cluster Working Group on Early Recovery notes that: “it aims to generate self-sustaining, nationally owned, resilient processes for post crisis recovery. It encompasses the restoration of basic services, livelihoods, shelter, governance, security and rule of law, environment and social dimensions, including the reintegration of displaced populations.”[6]

Humanitarian action

Humanitarian action is intended to:

“…save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain human dignity during and after man-made crises and disasters caused by natural hazards, as well as to prevent and strengthen preparedness for when such situations occur.”[7]

Humanitarian action should be governed by the four humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence and the guiding principles for humanitarian assistance set out in UN General Assembly resolution 46/182.

Nexus or triple nexus

This paper uses ‘nexus’ or ‘triple nexus’ as shorthand terms for the connections between humanitarian, development and peacebuilding approaches. We align with the OECD DAC definition:

“’Nexus approach’ refers to the aim of strengthening collaboration, coherence and complementarity. The approach seeks to capitalise on the comparative advantages of each pillar – to the extent of their relevance in the specific context – in order to reduce overall vulnerability and the number of unmet needs, strengthen risk management capacities and address root causes of conflict.”[8]

Achieving collaboration, coherence and complementarity means quite different things to different actors. Three ambitions sit on a spectrum from complementarity to coherence, with complementarity being the minimum requirement for achieving success. At the maximalist end, the nexus can fundamentally challenge existing divisions of labour between humanitarian, development and peace systems, with all actors working together towards shared goals or ‘collective outcomes’. As a minimum approach, all actors continue to deliver alongside one another through their separate systems and in line with their own objectives, but they do so in a way that is mutually reinforcing and avoids undermining each other’s goals. This can include integrating peace and/or resilience approaches into their work in a way that is aligned with their mandates and goals, without necessarily working together more closely.


There are many ways to understand conflict and peace, and clear overlaps with development and resilience. In this report, where there is not yet consensus on what is covered in the ‘peace’ aspect of the triple nexus, we understand it to include conflict prevention, conflict sensitivity (to ensure programming avoids harm and where possible builds peace), peacebuilding and mediation efforts at local, national and regional levels. Stabilisation and efforts to tackle violent extremism came up in the course of the research as ‘peace-related’ activities, however we recognise the contentions between political priorities on security and stability and safeguarding humanitarian principles.


The restoration, and improvement where appropriate, of facilities, livelihoods and living conditions of disaster-affected communities, including efforts to reduce disaster risk factors, largely through development assistance.[9]


Resilience is another term that has different interpretations across the HDP nexus. For peace actors, the focus is on managing conflict risks and building the capacities of communities to prevent, cope with and recover from violent shocks and sustain peace. For development actors, the focus is more on livelihoods, climate change, environmental interventions and disaster risk reduction.

We align with the OECD DAC definition:

“The ability of households, communities, and nations to absorb and recover from shocks, whilst positively adapting and transforming their structures and means for living in the face of long-term stresses, change and uncertainty. Resilience is about addressing the root causes of crises whilst strengthening the capacities and resources of a system in order to cope with risks, stresses and shocks.”[10]

Resilience is understood as cross-cutting to humanitarian, development and peacebuilding activities.

Risk financing

Risk financing is a broad term that includes financial arrangements agreed upfront to address specific types of risk (e.g. flooding) before a shock or crisis occurs. It can include investments to prevent and reduce risks, as well as pre-arranged mechanisms to prepare for and respond to shocks – or, ideally, a layered strategy combining all these. Risk financing had previously focused on funding disaster risk reduction work but is now understood more widely – on the grounds that upfront investments to manage and mitigate risks can save lives and money.[11]

Shock-responsive programming

Shock-responsive programming can respond flexibly in the event of an emergency. Often referred to in the context of social protection, shock-responsive social protection programmes are able to be scaled up in response to shocks in fragile or protracted crisis countries to reduce the need for a separate humanitarian response.[12]


Stabilisation is understood to be an approach combining civilian and military efforts in a conflict context to achieve a political objective, for example to “reduce violence, ensure basic security and facilitate peaceful political deal-making” in order to lay foundations for longer term recovery. Humanitarian aid might be given to a local population in the context of a stabilisation programme in order to “win hearts and minds” or create the conditions necessary to come to a negotiated settlement, but this would not be considered a ‘humanitarian’ programme as humanitarian aid must be delivered on the basis of need alone and respect the principles of neutrality and impartiality.