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Linking relief, rehabilitation and development (LRRD)

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Linking relief, rehabilitation and development (LRRD)

The objective of this communication is to assess the measures designed to fill the gap that exists between relief (short-term) and development aid (long-term) and to provide a broader view of the problems involved in assisting the Third World, taking account of the various types of crises, other actors on the international stage and the risk of structural dependence.


Communicaton from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 23 April 2001 entitled "Linking Relief, Rehabilitation and Development - An assessment" [COM(2001) 153 final - Not published in the Official Journal].



The negotiations on the Lomé IV Convention in 1995 took place at a time when the effectiveness of the aid provided by the European Union was called into question. With a view to enhancing this aid, the Commission undertook a wide-ranging internal and external consultation which is discussed in a communication entitled "Linking Relief, Rehabilitation and Development (LRRD)" [COM(1996)153]. The main point of this discussion paper, which to a large extent served as a basis for the 2001 communication, is that the gap between humanitarian aid and development aid needs to be filled. Whilst the former is provided according to the immediate needs of individuals by non-governmental and international organisations, the latter relates to development policies and strategies in the form of partnerships between countries. By focusing on the interdependence of the two policies, the Commission emphasised that better development could reduce the need for relief, that better relief could contribute to development and that the transition between the two is facilitated by rehabilitation. Since 1996, the priority of LRRD, also known as the "grey zone", has maintained its enhanced role and been accompanied by a desire to improve the coordination of international efforts.

The various categories of crisis

The communication refers to three individual situations or different categories of crisis. This distinction makes it easier to structure the efforts aimed at reducing human suffering in the grey zone.

  • Natural disasters are the category where it is easiest to provide aid due to the good will of the recipient governments. Disaster preparedness, with a view to enhancing the self-help capacity of the population, represents the main challenge. These types of activities include early warning systems for famines, planting for floods, the construction of terraces for droughts and water resources relating to landslides. This all involves taking account of the long-term development strategies such as the Cotonou Agreement. The aid provided to Mozambique during the major floods was a further example, where structural interventions supported agricultural development aimed at ensuring food security.
  • Armed conflicts pose difficulties because of the conflicting interests between the parties. Recurrent crises present problems, due in particular to the long-term instability involved. The origins of the crises must also be identified in order to be able to improve the situation in the long term. As a result, the Community must work in a broad context, incorporating the various phases of the conflict, for example the work to help Palestinian refugees in the countries surrounding Israel where the long-term aim is their return. Moreover, consideration should be given to the fact that the provision of substantial aid in armed conflicts risks having negative consequences such as corruption, diversion of aid or even prolongation of the conflict.
  • Structural and other types of crises - this category includes countries suffering from declining political, economic or social conditions, such as Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus. These countries lack adequate development instruments that could facilitate the transition to more stable conditions. One example of intervention in this type of strategy was in Georgia where there was a high level of food insecurity. Rather than providing specific food aid, the Commission worked to improve the institutional structure and to remove barriers to production and trade. Such a change thanks to transition strategies is important since relief may have a distorting effect by creating dependency or fuelling tensions.

Improved international coordination

The lack of coordination (due to different interests on the part of donors, slow decision-making procedures, etc.) in post-crisis situations reduces the impact of the combined efforts. Another negative aspect is the absence of support and flexibility in terms of the aid provided, which often concentrates on relieving immediate suffering. This meant in the case of Guinea-Bissau that the aid provided did not focus sufficiently on consolidating the return to democracy in 2000, which, a few months later, resulted in renewed tensions.

The aid given to Somalia, however, was a good example of successful donor coordination, thanks to the creation of the Somalia Aid Coordination Body. Bringing together the donors of the international community, this body played an important role in terms of coordination, planning and so on. One factor that can reinforce the positive impact of increased coordination is media coverage, which offers great visibility for donors.

The suggestions of the European Community (EC) to improve the results of international aid include:

  • Better coordination between the EC and the Member States, including the cofinancing of projects and cooperation between delegations;
  • Cooperation in the "Friends of" approach between the UN and other actors;
  • An initiative for heavily indebted poor countries linking the EC's efforts with those of the World Bank, the IMF and NGOs.

The European Community as a link

Given that the EU provides more than 50% of international aid and represents global political interests, it has a certain degree of neutrality. This could help it to secure a more important role - particular in terms of linkage, where three main challenges must be overcome: deadlines, implementing partners and availability of appropriate instruments.

The country strategies represent a further working method designed to assist the grey zone. The Cotonou Agreement, which explicitly refers to the LRRD issue, is one example of this. Somalia, where ECHO is being phased out, is another: by providing aid according to resources, certain regions have obtained medicines free of charge, whilst others have had to pay part of the cost. To be effective, these strategies must ensure a certain degree of flexibility in the face of changing circumstances.

Other tools available to the EC for the grey zone include food security and aid, the protection of human rights, democratisation and conflict prevention.

Last updated: 08.08.2007