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Mainstreaming the Minimum Economic Recovery Standards for Improved Market-Based Programming

Event Date: 
Feb 19, 2020
9:00 am to 10:30 am EST
Online Event


Drawing from the accumulated experience of the world’s leading humanitarian agencies and economic development practitioners, the Minimum Economic Recovery Standards (MERS) represent an industry consensus on economic recovery for the humanitarian and development sector. With support from the USAID Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), the SEEP Network has led the development and revision processes of the MERS since 2007. Now available in the third edition, the standards are well-recognized as core guidance for market-oriented approaches in economic recovery programming. The MERS are designed to provide humanitarian and development practitioners with a clear understanding of what good economic recovery programming looks like, and the final results that implementers should be working towards.

In 2017-2019, with funding from the USAID/OFDA, the SEEP Network supported practitioners and institutions to integrate MERS into organizational practices through the “Mainstreaming MERS” program. The program supported institutions to overcome a common challenge of humanitarian standards – moving beyond awareness towards application and integration of standards into operational practices.

Marketlinks hosted a webinar on February 19th, 2020 to share a brief overview of the MERS and describe the activities and lessons learned to mainstream the Standards among organizations and networks of practitioners. Representatives from the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) highlighted how MERS was integrated into their economic inclusion strategy and how their global livelihoods teams are using MERS to assess and improve programming. The webinar also highlighted how the introduction of the MERS to humanitarian aid community in Southern Turkey has begun to influence local NGOs and humanitarian coordinating bodies to adopt market-oriented approaches. Drawing from these experiences, the webinar will offer practical guidance and tips for mainstreaming MERS at the donor, institutional and practitioner level. 


headshot: Sonya Salanti
Senior Program Manager, The SEEP Network

Sonya Salanti leads the SEEP Network’s Resilient Markets thematic area.

Her work with SEEP focuses on design and implementation of global capacity building initiatives that support organizations to build resilience of crises-affected populations through market-based approaches. Sonya’s portfolio of programs includes the Minimum Economic Recovery Standards and the Markets-in-Crises Community of Practice, both of which serve as key resources for practitioners and organizations active in market-based programming. Sonya has 17 years of experience leading programs that support systems level change in the fields of international development, environmental sustainability and education. Sonya holds a master’s in International Sustainable Development from the School for International Training’s Graduate Institute, a master’s in Educational Leadership from Portland State University, and a bachelor’s in Liberal Arts from Vermont College.

Headshot: Elle Lee
Associate Livelihoods and Economic Inclusion Officer, UNHCR

Ellen Lee is part of UNHCR’s Division of Resilience and Solutions based in Geneva HQ, where her role entails providing technical support to country operations on their livelihoods and economic incl

usion programs through capacity building, guidance development and research, monitoring and evaluation. She has been working on MERS mainstreaming within UNHCR since her arrival in 2017. Prior to this, she worked with the ILO Regional Office in Bangkok on community-based enterprise development, as well as with various NGOs based in the US operating programs globally related to anti-trafficking and corporate social responsibility. She holds a master’s degree in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies from the London School of Economics.

Photo: Karri Byrne
Senior Market Systems Advisor

Karri Byrne brings over 25 years of leadership and management experience to humanitarian and development settings, overseeing large, complex programs in some of the world’s most challenging environ

ments. She has worked extensively on programming related to market facilitation and value chain development, job creation, access to finance, and entrepreneurship. Most recently she has worked with organizations to incorporate Adaptive Management approaches into their work, and has helped mobilize large, multidisciplinary teams to meet strategic objectives. Karri has been a core contributor the Minimum Economic Recovery Standards since their inception and was a lead facilitator for the Mainstreaming MERS program.

Headshot: Saad Barood
Partnership Manager

Saad has been working in the Humanitarian and Development Sector for five years as a partnership manager in Bonyan, a Syrian NGO based in Turkey, focusing on early recovery and livelihoods.

Relying on his 8 years of experience in industrial manufacturing and trade sector, he participated in designing and implementing several economic empowerment projects in Syria including micro-finance and vocational training. Saad was introduced to the MERS by SEEP team visiting Gaziantep, Turkey in 2018. Noting the MERS applicability and effectiveness in improving humanitarian response, Saad worked within his institution to ensure MERS was adopted within Bonyan's programs. Later, Saad conducted two trainings in Arabic and English for 20 members of the Early Recovery Cluster in an effort to raise awareness and mainstream MERS. Saad has a Master’s in Aircraft and Aerospace engineering, and is completing another Master's in political science and International Relations.

headshot: Laura Meissner
Economic Recovery and Markets Advisor, USAID contractor

Laura Meissner is the Economic Recovery and Markets Advisor for USAID’s Office of U.S.

Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), where she provides guidance on assessing, mitigating, and repairing the effects of disasters on local markets and vulnerable populations’ livelihoods as well as on cash and voucher-based interventions. In her work at OFDA she has contributed to the disaster response and recovery in Syria, Iraq, the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, and the Philippines. Prior to joining OFDA in 2010, Laura managed the Minimum Economic Recovery Standards initiative for the Small Enterprise Education and Promotion (SEEP) Network.

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