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For Oxfam, there have been two main strands of markets work. One strand looks at how emergency relief can be delivered through existing market systems and how these systems can be strengthened in crisis contexts, and the other focuses on longer term support for producers to strengthen their positions in agricultural market systems. However, to date, there has not been a systematic or concentrated focus to align and connect these areas of work. The separation of these strands has had some serious implications for inclusive development, especially in those countries that experience recurrent or predictable crises. Within these contexts, the pre-crisis preparedness agenda appears an appropriate and suitable moment to bring these often divergent strands together.
In 2012-13, within an ECHO funded project entitled ‘Building Institutional Capacity for Timely Food Security Emergency Response to Slow Onset Crises at Scale’, Oxfam focused on the development of pre-crisis market analysis - through piloting market assessments and through the creation of guidance material - to help improve the preparedness of responding agencies to predicted or recurrent crises. Guatemala was Oxfam's first opportunity to carry out a joint analysis – integrating emergency market analysis and market development approaches.
The Chiquimula region of Guatemala is an area of very little rainfall that has been severely affected by climate change in recent years and where food and income insecurity are high. The region is also affected by a number of crises, such as hurricanes, drought and crop disease. To date, Oxfam responses to both chronic and cyclical crises in Chiquimula have been based on the delivery of in-kind food aid. These responses have been designed to meet short term and seasonal needs, but have not addressed either the chronic poverty or the increasingly fragile livelihood context of many people in the region. Oxfam carried out a market assessment in order to help determine program options to support the poorest and most vulnerable families in the area in consideration of both the long-term development needs and immediate humanitarian needs. The Guatemalan pre-crisis market analysis used elements of the humanitarian Emergency Market Mapping and Analysis (EMMA) approach, tailored and adapted to slow onset crises, combined with elements of the longer term agricultural development Gendered Enterprise and Markets (GEM) toolkit. The basic grains and coffee markets were selected for analysis.
In Guatemala, the impact of the assessment has been predominantly positive. It has led to been increased interest from other agencies in the region to both promoting and using cash transfer programs. Key successes included beginning the process with an HEA analysis, conducting a vulnerability and risk assessment and conducting a power analysis. Though both the GEM and EMMA approaches gave huge added value to the joint market analysis, there is still thinking to be done of better ways to integrate these for maximum impact. This integrated process can certainly help to approach programs that support sustainable livelihoods and resilience building. Yet agencies must be realistic in matching aspirations with capacity. Likewise, they must be ready – programmatically and financially – to take a long term approach to working with communities.