Mercy Corps: The Currency of Connections

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07 Feb 2019, 1:37 p.m.

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Thanks for posting this Vai -- really interesting! And I feel like it is
also very timely... it touches on a couple topics that I think are pretty
hot at the moment such as protracted crises (should we be doing things a
bit differently? Why, yes!), and social networks (I really love the idea of
Social Network Analysis, but I can never quite get my head around it...
this is more readable/real than those docs often are). And I love the
recommendations around gender-aware programming. (They seem so obvious when
they are spelled out that I have to wonder why these aren't already the

But it raises a question for me... one of the recommendations is to consult
with livelihood-based groups when designing and implementing programs. But
the thing is there is often a long lag-time between when we consult (if we
consult) and when the programs are rolled out. Do you see room for an
adaptive management approach here? I'm thinking building consultation into
the design so that it is an ongoing process more reflective of how social
connections change over time. Perhaps that was what was implied by the
donor flexibility recommendation, but I think it also requires the team to
work with that mindset. Your thoughts?

Thanks again for posting, Vai!

30 Jan 2019, 6:18 p.m.

Richmond Msowoya

Insightful summaries

30 Jan 2019, 4:17 p.m.

Samia Qumri

Dear Vai,

Wow thanks for sharing and capturing / flagging these points with us and
yes as impressed at your mind-reading prowess:)


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*"The human contribution is the essential ingredient. It is only in the
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30 Jan 2019, 3:51 p.m.

Vaidehi Krishnan

On the back of Isabelle Pelly's excellent (CaLP) blog yesterday about networks - admittedly she is referring to aid actors coming together to learn, share and collaborate, for collective action - I wanted to share a recent Mercy Corps publication about social networks and why they matter. Only here, we are talking about how even the most vulnerable South Sudanese learn, share and collaborate, to cope and recover from a crisis. In this research, we are learning from the same communities in South Sudan where Mercy Corps is providing cash and livelihoods interventions.

I am also going to do some creative mind reading of those of you reading this email and answer some of your burning questions on why this report should matter to you. Ready? Here goes -

*1. Did you think that networks and connections were the sole hallmark of a technology-enabled environment? Think again. *Well before South Sudan’s current crisis and well before the arrival of humanitarian aid - the South Sudanese used the sharing of food or their own produce, communal labor, and the payment of cows (bridewealth) to form and maintain social connections. If you, like me, thought that bridewealth payments were nothing more than a commodification of women, you definitely want to read this report!

*2. Did you think that learning about 'social connections' does not apply to you since you are a 'markets' or 'livelihoods' person? *Among the South Sudanese, those who share similar livelihoods (cattle-herders, fisherfolk, traders) have long been in informal groups to support one another. They share food, give each other loans, share business skills and advice, help settle conflict and disputes, and provide emotional support. They have
rules to enforce this sharing and might even kick you out if you don't adhere. Wait – they do what now?

*3. And cash-ies - my favorite people - if are thinking "Oh great, one MORE research that says cash is king!" - To you, I say - No, NOT YET. *For *now*, we know that many South Sudanese have turned to marketplaces to buy food and other goods. So yes, if you are providing humanitarian cash transfers, then you are being responsive to what you see in front of you. But, we are also hearing some instances that humanitarian cash, despite recipients sharing this with their friends and family, may not always guarantee reciprocal support. We are continuing to explore what the longer-term effects are for South Sudanese turning from cows and kin – to cash (beyond just humanitarian cash), and *if/how* humanitarian cash can be provided in safe ways to mitigate against any negative effects.

If you got this far, then either you are marveling at my mind-reading prowess or just looking for the report – in which case, here it is.

This is just the first in a series of reports, so watch this space for more as we continue to learn and share.




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