Economics of Resilience: An Ounce of Prevention, a Pound of Cure
A recent study commissioned by USAID’s Center for Resilience demonstrates that investing in resilience and a more proactive response to avert humanitarian crises in the Horn of Africa could reduce the cost to international donors by 30 percent, while also protecting billions of dollars of income and assets for households and communities impacted by droughts.
On January 25th, international development economists Courtenay Cabot Venton and Mark Lawrence and resilience M&E and strategic analytics advisor Tiffany Griffin shared results from a recent cost-benefit analysis. The analysis estimates that, over a 15-year period, every $1 invested in resilience will result in $3 or more in reduced humanitarian assistance needs and avoided losses.
The study compared a range of investment and response scenarios in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia and demonstrates that early humanitarian response, safety nets and investments in resilience are far more cost effective than responding after households are engaging in negative coping strategies and prices are destabilized. The study builds on groundbreaking work commissioned by DFID in 2013 on the Economics of Early Response and Resilience.
Courtenay Cabot Venton is an international development economist.
By demonstrating the relative returns of social and environmental interventions, she contributes to an evidence base for what works and what doesn’t when it comes to reducing poverty worldwide. Courtenay’s recent work demonstrates that, by responding proactively to humanitarian crises, we can not only avert human suffering, but we could also save billions of dollars — dollars that are critically needed to support the growing number of people suffering from conflict and natural disasters. Courtenay works with a range of donors, governments and non-profits around the world. She was named one of Town & Country's Top 50 Philanthropists in 2017 for her work on humanitarian aid.
Tiffany Griffin currently leads the resilience measurement, monitoring, eva
luation and analysis work for the Center for Resilience at USAID. Previously, she was Manager for Impact and Learning for the Democracy Fund, a private foundation in Washington, D.C., as well as a Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist at USAID supporting the Feed the Future initiative. In this latter role, Tiffany provided leadership on food security resilience measurement, particularly with respect to impact evaluation. She also provided technical leadership on all phases of the evaluation process, including project management, design, implementation, dissemination and results translation. Using mixed-methods approaches and systems modeling, Tiffany has applied research techniques typically confined to the lab to complex real-world contexts. Prior to her food security work at USAID, Tiffany worked in the U.S. Senate on domestic health policy as well as on domestic food and nutrition policy. Tiffany Griffin received her doctorate in Social Psychology from the University of Michigan and has Bachelors of Arts degrees in Psychology and Communications from Boston College.
Mark Lawrence is a PhD nutritionist with over 25 years of experience in famine early warning and
food security assessment and in the design and management of quantitative and qualitative information collection systems. He has been a leader in the development of Household Economy Analysis (HEA) since its first use in the mid-1990s, initially with Save the Children and then as a partner in the Food Economy Group (FEG). He focuses on adapting HEA and developing analytical tools to meet new challenges, including, most recently, the measurement of resilience.