Is Market Systems Development Inherently a Resilience Approach?
Fueled by increasing uncertainty about the future as well as the need to protect development investments in the face of recurring crises, resilience has recently garnered much interest in the development community. Though many practitioners and donors are now struggling to operationalize and measure resilience, debate regarding how a resilience lens can be best integrated into development strategies continues.
Mercy Corps defines resilience as the capacity of communities in complex socio-ecological systems to learn, cope, adapt, and transform in the face of shocks and stresses. One particular approach to resilience is through market systems development.
Some experts have suggested that market development programming inherently results in resilience gains. Others have argued that additional considerations and efforts are necessary. Using examples from Mercy Corps’ programming in East Africa and South Asia, Eliot Levine and Sasha Muench illustrated how market systems development can contribute to resilience if appropriate efforts are taken in the design, management, and monitoring of programs. They also addressed the potential negative impacts that can occur if interventions are not assessed with a resilience lens.
Eliot Levine is a Senior Technical Advisor on Mercy Corps’ Environment, Energy and Climate Technical Support Unit. In that position, he serves as the focal point for climate change adaptation while playing a key role in the agency's global resilience initiative. In addition to providing technical support on the integration of climate and environment considerations into Mercy Corps’ development programming, Eliot's work focuses on the development of a strategic resilience assessment approach for applying a resilience lens to strategy development and program design. Before joining Mercy Corps, Eliot spent eight years at World Wildlife Fund working on climate adaptation across Asia, Africa and Latin America. At WWF his work had three themes within the broader field of climate change adaptation: vulnerability assessments, capacity building, and climate-adaptive institutions.
Sasha Muench is Director of Econ
omic and Market Development for Mercy Corps, where she provides institutional leadership and program support on all aspects of economic development for Mercy Corps globally. In particular, Sasha is driving the expansion of Mercy Corps’ market-driven programming and private sector engagement. She has over 20 years of international development experience, primarily in the areas of economic and market development, financial services provision, enterprise development, private sector engagement, and community revitalization in transitional environments. Sasha spent four years in Indonesia working on economic development and post-tsunami recovery and three years in Bosnia working on microfinance and post-conflict economic recovery. She currently sits on the Board of Directors of the SEEP Network and is a founding member of the Markets in Crises Community of Practice. Sasha has a B.A. in economics and international relations from Claremont McKenna College and an M.A. in economics from the University of British Columbia.