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Tuesday, January 21, 2003

The “grey zone” between the European Union’s emergency relief efforts + its long-term development assistance is examined in a report released today by the ActionAid Alliance, a grouping of leading European aid agencies.

The period immediately following an emergency and before the beginning of longer-term development programmes is commonly known as the “grey zone”...

This remains a time of uncertainty where emergency relief funds have been withdrawn but long-term development assistance is still being planned. This “gap” reduces the possibility of stabilizing emergency situations + hinders people’s recovery.

The report argues for the need to frame emergency relief efforts within the larger context of development and calls for the wholesale adoption of what the European Commission terms the “contiguum” approach – the simultaneous delivery of emergency (humanitarian) relief, infrastructure rehabilitation + long-term development assistance.

Though the EU pays lip service to the “contiguum” concept, ActionAid Alliance charges that the EC and its member countries adopt a linear approach, resulting in aid delivery “gaps”...

Since the early 1990s the EC has acknowledged the transitional period to be a problem area but has concentrated on small-scale alterations to its management and budgetary structures. Ad hoc measures have consequently been implemented but have failed to provide a comprehensive strategic solution.

Report author, Iacopo Viciani said: “Whilst transitional situations cannot be made to fit into a set of blueprints, tools to manage uncertainty can still be devised.”

Effective links between emergency relief, rehabilitation and development can be achieved, but only if aid delivery involves affected communities in all stages from emergency preparation to recovery. The report finds that this is also the most cost effective form of aid delivery.

Europe is highly influential in the arena of development assistance. The volume of EC aid constitutes 10% of global donations and EU countries are collectively the world’s top aid donors accounting for 50% of all overseas development assistance.

This means that the adoption of the "contiguum" approach by the EC and EU could have a considerable impact...