Doing Nexus Differently

Doing Nexus Differently

Publication info

Doing Nexus Differently

Two-thirds of all humanitarian assistance is provided to long-term recipients facing protracted crises of a duration of eight years or more. This number reflects the great need to reconsider the longstanding impact of aid and its connections with development and peace more consistently. CARE International in the MENA region, through the Regional Applied Economic Empowerment Hub, aims to contribute to programmatic learning and organizational innovation with regard to specific themes with high relevance for the MENA region and beyond. One of its key research streams has become the Nexus (meaning greater integration of Humanitarian/Development/Peace activities) utilizing different resources and research methods, including an organizational-wide engagement process. This discussion paper is part of this process which has utilized webinars, surveys, global case studies, literature  reviews, and summary papers to pull discussions and lessons from many departments and teams of CARE’s global presence, including more than 30 global and regional thought leaders. This paper targets a wide range of global stake-holders of the humanitarian and development sectors with the following aims:

  • Present and strengthen the internal and external evidence of and for a different Nexus approach that works better for our impact groups.
  • Contribute to internal and external dialogue, build collective voice among peer organizations, create linkages with partners (research institutes, specialists in the field) and influence the way the Nexus is, and will be, implemented globally and locally.

The Hub, in collaboration with global and regional thought leaders at CARE, accepts there are challenges surrounding a highly integrated approach (especially a top-down one coming from the global level). Because of this, the Hub calls for developing stronger awareness and a more explicit evidence base to avoid negative consequences of the instrumentalization and politicization of aid, as well as the possible reduction of impact.

The Hub has also developed the UptakePreneur Guide, a Social Entrepreneurship Lab designed, tested and led by the Hub, which aims to promote and diffuse knowledge, approaches and tools around social entrepreneurship and social market solutions that are adapted to fragile and conflict affected settings (FCAS).

Mostly, however, we are enthusiastic about the many opportunities the Double/Triple Nexus offers for greater and more sustainable impact, including: addressing root causes of conflict and inequity; promoting more equitable development; integrating social cohesion and self-reliance; women’s political participation for peacebuilding; stimulating investments in underserved sectors; strengthening socio-economic hubs (e.g. CSOs) that play a role in addressing needs and reducing social tensions.

The Principles

In cooperation with over 30 CARE thought leaders and practitioners and building on evidence from the research and the field, we want you to join our partnership in presenting, implementing, and advocating for the type of Nexus we want to see in the future – this is what we call Doing Nexus Differently:

  • Localization: empower and utilize local actors and structures (civil society, the private sector and more) through bottom-up approaches, rather than replace them. Our impact groups and local partners should take the driver’s seat!
  • Local ownership and participation: gives practical and feasible openings at all steps of the project cycle, especially for women, to systematically include the voices of our partners and impact groups.
  • Evidence-based analysis informs our design, implementation, and evaluation; makes smart use of analytical tools to get an in-depth understanding of social norms, gender relations, power relations (and how they change in crisis), political economy and conflict dynamics.
  • Politically smart: our actions should be done in good awareness of the local power dynamics while our analysis and organizational niche can guide how to deal with state actors, while also understanding social tensions and aiming to reduce them.
  • Gender and Women’s voices: supporting real and relevant engagement with all parts of our impact group is crucial (looking beyond the numbers towards meaningful engagement).
  • Resilience can be seen as a major connecting concept in our programming, including communities’ capacities to anticipate, absorb, adapt and transform in the face of emergencies or conflict.
  • Adaptive Management as an agile management approach can facilitate flexible (Nexus) programs, responding to changes and new information swiftly to stay relevant and impactful.
  • Piloting through e.g. cross-sectoral teams is encouraged to test new (management) structures that enable Nexus programs, when organizational-wide restructuring is not an easy option.
  • Reinvesting in Program Quality as a key to keep our programs effective, regardless of which approach is taken. Strong MEAL systems are needed to facilitate organizational learning and innovation. High program quality should also integrate all of the above guiding principles in its content, guiding tools, and purpose!

The plurality of actors, contexts, and needs involved in this discussion makes presenting a one-size fits all approach harmful. This paper instead aims to join others in the sector in calling for a revision of our current ineffective (e.g., too often top-down or highly separated) approaches to addressing human needs. The sector needs to deliver more with fewer resources, requiring all actors to be more effective in reaching lasting change and ending needs. We believe that a better, integrated approach to humanitarian assistance and development, that also works better for women and girls, is possible and can be implemented at local and global levels successfully.

Download the Executive Summary

Download the Detailed Paper

Download the UptakePreneur Guide