January 16, 2019
The Book "Crisis Management Beyond the Humanitarian-Development Nexus" was published in October 2018 as an outcome of the JICA Research Institute (JICA-RI) research project "Comparative Study of Humanitarian Crisis Management from the Perspective of Bilateral Cooperation Agencies," and this provided the opportunity to hold seminars on Nov. 26 and 27 at Osaka University and Kyoto University.
This book organizes the history of and approaches to "a continuum from relief to rehabilitation and development" in humanitarian crisis management by various aid agencies and highlights its practice and related issues. To do so, it takes up the East Timor conflict, the South Sudan conflict and the Syrian crisis as armed-conflict case studies and Hurricane Mitch in Honduras, the Indian Ocean tsunami and the Java earthquake in Indonesia and Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines as natural-disaster case studies.
First, on Nov. 26, the public seminar "The Role of Development Agencies in Humanitarian Crisis Management" was held at Osaka University, and JICA-RI Senior Research Fellow Ako Muto and Research Fellow Chigumi Kawaguchi took the stage, along with Oscar Gómez, a former JICA-RI research fellow and now an assistant professor at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University.
Muto gave a presentation entitled "Humanitarian Crises Management From the Perspective of Aid Agencies: the Case of the Syrian Crisis." She reported on JICA's assistance in the forms of dispatching Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCVs), improving infrastructure and training human resources to improve the living environment in refugee camps and host communities in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, which are being forced by the Syrian crisis to deal with refugees. She also said that as part of the Japanese Initiative for the future of Syrian Refugees (JISR), one part of the Middle East assistance announced by the Japanese government in May 2016, Japan plans by 2021 to take in up to 100 young Syrian students who fled Jordan and Lebanon as refugees with the aim of offering educational opportunities to Syrian youths who can contribute to Syria's future reconstruction.
In addition, Kawaguchi gave a presentation entitled "Humanitarian Crises Management Under Conflict Settings From the Perspective of Aid Agencies: the Case of South Sudan," and Gómez gave a presentation entitled "Humanitarian Crises Management Under Natural Disaster Settings From the Perspective of Aid Agencies in Honduras."
On the following day, the Graduate School of Advanced Integrated Studies in Human Survivability (GSAIS or Shishu-Kan) at Kyoto University held its 9th Excellence Seminar "Seamless Assistance in Humanitarian Crisis Management — Comparative Study of Conflict and Natural Disasters." Kawaguchi and Gómez gave presentations, entitled, respectively, "the Humanitarian-Development Nexus in Humanitarian Crises Caused by Conflict— Toward Realization of Continuum" and "the Humanitarian-Development Nexus in Humanitarian Crises Caused by Natural Disasters — Toward Realization of Continuum."
Kawaguchi reported on what the approach of peace building should look like, taking the case of South Sudan. When we look at the humanitarian crisis and progress of assistance by aid agencies from various countries, despite the crisis in South Sudan being non-linear, the different types of assistance from the aid agencies is not responsive to the needs of the recipient people. Kawaguchi concluded by emphasizing, "For 'new' peace building, we need a change to the various aid agencies managing political dynamics, putting the people of recipient countries in a central position rather than their central governments, and implementing flexible assistance."