Development for Peacebuilding: Four Years of Crisis and Conflict Response
The Minka Peace and Resilience Fund is France’s official development assistance tool dedicated to crisis situations, armed conflicts and the weakening of states and societies, with one objective: to contribute to the construction of a sustainable peace. Led by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) Group, it currently covers, via four Initiatives, the priority crisis areas for France’s foreign policy: the Sahel, the Lake Chad region, the Central African Republic (CAR) and the Middle East. Four years after its launch in 2017, it is time for us to look back at its 2020 results.
MINKA, A FUND FOR THE FUTURE AND A CATALYST FOR CHANGE
A change in mentality and timeframe. The Minka Fund marks a real internal revolution at AFD, with substantial financial resources (nearly 200 million euros per year) and increasingly well-trained teams. The Agency can now remain operational in crisis and conflict zones and is even launching new projects there. The time seems long gone when AFD had to suspend its operations when a zone was in the red and had no dedicated resources. With the constant ambition of responding to the essential needs of populations, AFD wanted to have a more rapid response capacity, with rapidly visible results. The Minka Fund therefore aims to “achieve initial results in the field within three to six months of allocation”. In 2020, nearly three quarters of the projects financed by Minka meet this objective.
Under the Minka CAR Initiative, the SAMBBA project is an illustration of this new operating mode. Implemented in three months, it has made it possible to support access to food for marginalised populations and peri-urban market gardening in Berbérati and Bambari. 70% of households in the Bambari area have seen their access to food improve  and 79,653 animals have been vaccinated in order to strengthen the resilience of livestock owners with family farms in the region. In Mali and Burkina Faso, the mobilisation of appropriate instruments, such as the crisis intervention tools (OICC), supports this rapid approach with an average appraisal time of two months.
New topics. In this vein, AFD has taken on new issues such as prolonged forced displacement and psychosocial care. For example, in Lebanon, the PNSM project provides technical assistance to the national mental health program, a dedicated university degree and the strengthening of community mental health services. Implemented with the World Health Organisation (WHO), Médecins du Monde (MDM) and the Ecole Supérieure des Affaires (ESA), today 1,888 people have been able to access this care.
The same entrance. Minka projects are always identified as close to the field as possible via AFD’s field agencies and Regional Directorates (RDs). In order to benefit from the Fund, the project must be in line with the intervention logic of the Initiative in the crisis basin concerned. In the Sahel, it will contribute to preventing and curbing violent conflicts by strengthening the social link between communities and confidence between populations and their institutions; in the Lake Chad Basin, to curbing violence and strengthening social cohesion by mitigating the vulnerability factors linked to the Boko Haram crisis; in CAR, to accompany the exit from the crisis and support peace-building; and finally, in the Middle East, to mitigate the vulnerabilities generated by the displacement of populations and strengthen the resilience of host countries (to find out more about this initiative, discover its online photo exhibition).
A new way. Beyond these geographies, Minka is a tool for the future. Although the resource is protected for four defined basins, it has made it possible to export methods and procedures to other areas. AFD has developed financing through calls for “crisis and post-crisis” projects (APCC) applicable to any location that has suffered their consequences over the past 12 months. These modalities specifically target support to civil society organizations or non-profit entities. Within this framework, a call for projects was won by CARE France for Colombia and Ecuador. These tools provide flexibility that was previously inconceivable for AFD – and which remains so for other donors: the possibility of modifying the budget on the basis of a simple no-objection notice from the Agency, or a “miscellaneous and unforeseen” line that is slightly larger than that of classic AFD projects. This approach aims to go beyond the funder/CSO relationship and move towards a partnership model where project co-instruction is the rule.
Projects, all evaluated, in an adapted manner. The Minka Fund places monitoring-evaluation and accountability at the heart of its identity, thanks to the systematic implementation of monitoring-evaluation mechanisms adapted to fragile or conflict-sensitive contexts. With the help of its partners, these systems allow AFD to adapt the frequency of data collection and analysis. They respond to the challenges of volatility: logical frameworks that are more sensitive to the context and dynamics of conflict and increased accountability to the final beneficiaries of projects. In 2020, the estimate is significant: 6 million additional people have seen their living conditions improve thanks to Minka funding. Initiative-by-initiative accountability mechanisms are also strengthened. For example, in the Middle East, a platform has been developed to monitor the progress of projects with very precise indicators.
A dedicated team. Reporting to the Director of Operations, the Fragility, Crisis and Conflict Division (CCC) supports the technical, geographical and agency units in monitoring projects, using a multi-sectoral approach. As co-leader of the Minka Peace and Resilience Fund, its mission is to assist teams in appropriating methods specific to crisis zones and to encourage partnerships with actors specialising in these areas. But its mandate does not stop there. Crises, disasters, conflicts… all dimensions of fragility are dealt with by CCC and all geographies can call on it.
MINKA, FROM PREVENTION TO THE HUMANITARIAN-DEVELOPMENT NEXUS
In 2020, 460 million people will be living in extreme poverty in fragile countries, i.e. almost 80% of the world total. AFD’s historical presence in many regions (more than 70 years in CAR, 60 years in Mali and Niger, 40 years in Haiti, 22 years in the Central African Republic and the Caribbean) means that it has had to adapt to act before, during and after crises and conflicts.
Prevent, mitigate and rebuild. The Minka Fund fits into this timeframe with one objective: to consolidate peace. Preventing a new outbreak of crises or its spread based on warning signs (such as the expansion of abuses by armed groups), mitigating the effects of conflict on vulnerable populations (such as the situation of protracted mass displacement) and rebuilding in a more sustainable and secure manner (after conflict-related destruction, for example). In Iraq, the PERMA project (’10 million), with Mercy Corps, Triangle Génération Humanitaire and Public Aid Organization, is helping to revive the rural and agricultural economy in the Nineveh Governorate. Today, 15,800 animals have been treated in mobile veterinary clinics and nearly 2,000 farmers will eventually be supported. The Minka projects therefore address both the determinants and the direct consequences of the crisis.
With humanitarian actors, of course. In four years, AFD has made the humanitarian-development nexus a major focus of its efforts. It is now central to Minka projects in volatile contexts and often with strong security issues. 43% of the Minka Fund’s commitments go to French, international and local civil society organisations (CSOs).  Humanitarian actors are unique partners in understanding and accessing these territories. This cooperation also allows humanitarian organisations to benefit from multi-year funding (three to four years), to go beyond the direct provision of goods and services, to be part of a long-term dynamic and to strengthen the capacities of local actors.
*Distribution of commitments by project owner over the period 2017-2020
- French, international and locals OSC : 43%
- Governments : 32%
- French and international operators : 11%
- International Organisations and other funders : 6%
- Others : 4%
- Private Sector : 2%
MINKA, A PARTNERSHIP APPROACH ALSO IN THE EMERGENCY AND STABILISATION PHASES
Continuous learning. AFD has learned a great deal from emergency actors, which has inspired the implementation of adapted procedures to allow for a more rapid appraisal. AFD and its Fragilities, Crises and Conflicts team evaluate these measures on an annual basis with a view to continuous improvement. The explosion in the port of Beirut in August 2020 is a perfect example of AFD’s reactive response capacity while at the same time being part of a development logic where, in the framework of the Minka Middle East Initiative, AFD mobilized an additional 13 million euros in a few weeks to help the city recover. Moreover, in line with the Humanitarian Emergency Fund’s actions, AFD’s first activities started four months after the disaster. Beyond this major event, in Lebanon, AFD has for example taken over the post-flood emergency action of the Crisis and Support Center (CDCS) by financing a long-term component of a risk prevention project.
AFD platform. In the framework of Minka projects, AFD works in a Group format – alongside Expertise France and Proparco – and as a French team, hand in hand with diplomatic, defense, research, humanitarian and stabilization actors. The CDCS is a key partner: where AFD will have medium- to long-term tools to deal with the protracted consequences of crises and their underlying causes (feelings of marginalisation of certain socio-economic groups, exclusion of youth in a society in transition, etc.), the CDSC will be the actor best able to carry out emergency and stabilisation actions. The final beneficiaries and the funded actors may be similar, but the means and logics of intervention will be different, as they are complementary. Exchanges are regular, from the field to Paris, with the establishment of links between their projects. For example, in Irbid, Jordan, the CDCS financed the first phase of a drinking water programme and the AFD the second.
MINKA, CHALLENGES TO BE MET SO THAT NO ONE IS LEFT BEHIND
A capacity to adapt to any situation – even the COVID-19. Minka projects leave no one behind and systematically support actions that benefit the most vulnerable – marginalized groups, refugees, displaced persons and host populations. Strong attention is also paid to the specific needs of women in conflict contexts – 78% of Minka projects have a gender equality objective, making AFD one of the main contributors to the “Women, Peace and Security” agenda. The inclusion of youth is also central. For example, the MediaSahel project (nine million euros) in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, with the French Media Development Agency (CFI), has enabled 169 partner radio stations to broadcast 3 962 programmes in 10 languages to inform and encourage citizen debate. In response to Covid-19, 392 videos and programmes were also broadcast to combat the spread of the virus. The pandemic and the difficulties of accessing the field make inter-actor coordination even more important. Minka projects have taken this into consideration and have adapted. For example, the ADELAC project (10 million euros) in Chad, with the International Rescue Committee (IRC-UK), raised awareness among 27,613 people about prevention measures in the face of the epidemic, in addition to gender-based violence, 79% of whom were women and children.
The HDP nexus. Studying ways to implement the humanitarian-development-peace (HDP) nexus in the field, under the best conditions for each stakeholder, is also one of AFD’s challenges with the Minka Fund. In the framework of its actions to prevent conflicts, increase conflict sensitivity and strengthen social cohesion, far from positioning itself as a tool for defence, Minka projects ensure respect for international humanitarian law (IHL) and the constraints of its partners. The definition of this nexus does not always meet with consensus. AFD’s approach is more in line with a humanitarian-development nexus “enhanced” by a dimension of conflict sensitivity. Many examples of its Minka projects are part of this vision: WASH Menaka with the International Rescue Committee, DIZA with Concern & Caritas or RESILAC with Action Contre la Faim and CARE.
MINKA, CLEAR PERSPECTIVES
“In the absence of rapid, significant and solid measures, the combination of the VCT-19 pandemic and the weight of conflict and climate change will put the achievement of the MDGs and the end of poverty by 2030(1) out of reach.”
Geographically. As the main operator for implementing France’s development policy, AFD has a central role to play in preventing and limiting the consequences of crises and conflicts. The Pathways to Peace report and many other studies since then have shown how development actors must contribute to this. However, not at any cost: by learning from their partners who have been present in these areas for many years. 653 million allocated since its launch in 2017
Is this enough to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals? The question remains for MDG16, which aims to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, ensure access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. Without coordination, it is certain that we will not. This is the meaning of AFD’s investment in the Sahel Alliance, its coordination as a French team, with other European and international donors. Minka is a significant means of creating leverage effects. In Lebanon, in addition to the 59 million euros from the Fund, nearly 100 million euros have been mobilized from the European Union.
In line with the CICID commitments, most of the Minka Fund goes to the Minka Sahel Initiative (almost half of its commitments over the 2017-2020 period, and African initiatives account for around two-thirds of commitments). While 2019 was an exceptional year, 2020 saw a decrease in funding, but on the Minka Sahel Initiative, it has been safeguarded. Continued support to continue development actions in this area where the number of internally displaced people has quadrupled since 2019, from 490,000 to more than 2 million, 80% of whom are women and children ; where 8.9 million people have suffered from acute food insecurity; where access to essential social services has decreased: 3,891 schools and 150 health centres were closed, or non-functional, in the Liptako-Gourma region alone.
The last third of commitments is for the Minka Middle East Initiative in support of the Syrian and Iraqi crises where, in line with the position of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, AFD does not operate directly in Syria. The political conditions do not allow for effective development or recovery aid in line with the “do no harm” principle.
At the thematic level. Because the health situation catalyses the consequences of existing crises, particularly on the most vulnerable populations, in 2021 Minka will continue to support health and socio-economic inclusion projects for young people. Because actions in support of the protection of women, the consideration of their specific needs and their participation in peacebuilding projects must remain central, in 2021 Minka will continue to spearhead the “Women, Peace and Security” agenda.
Because 2021 is a key year for living together and for peace, the promotion of human rights and justice, and the achievement of the MDGs, the French Development Agency will be there with the Minka Peace and Resilience Fund, alongside its partners.
Jean-Bertrand Mothes, Head of the Fragility, Crisis and Conflict Division (CCC) of the French Development Agency
 Percentage calculated on the basis of their Food Consumption Score (FCS)
 OECD (2020), Fragile States
 These figures total AFD’s consortia lead partners. The share of funds channelled through French, and especially local, NGOs is underestimated.
 Main financial instrument of the CDCS
 IRC-UK is leading a consortium of NGOs formed with COOPI, I&D and PADIESE.
 2018 International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank1818 H Street NW Washington, DC 20433
 UNHCR (2021)
 OCHA (2020)