- By Mark Simmons

Yesterday of course marked the first anniversary of the beginning of Nepal's series of devastating earthquakes, and the twittersphere was saturated with images of those still waiting for assistance.

This highlights both how important anniversaries are and how much our ability to respond to crisis is constrained by a host government’s ability and willingness to coordinate service provision and allow access to populations in need. This is one reason why Cord believes in working with governments to encourage transformation from within.

Today 26 April 2016 is the first anniversary of the outbreak of the violence which re-erupted in Burundi when President Nkurunziza announced his intention to run for an unconstitutional third term. While so much humanitarian and development assistance is inevitably directed towards those left destitute or homeless by violent conflict, anniversaries of conflict are much more difficult to commemorate than those of natural disasters. Violence tends to simmer below the surface and then boil over. Political solutions are sought, agreed, ignored and renegotiated.

In the cycle of violence and the international response to it, allegiances change, civil society organisations raise their voices, factions emerge, and individual stories capture the spotlight.

For example, we cannot say for sure when the current Syrian crisis erupted; the weeks of individual protests through January and February 2011 had coalesced into a movement sufficiently threatening to elicit a violent response by security forces in March 2011 which fuelled a series of violent rallies by the end of April. And these events follow a very long history of poor political choices outside and inside the country.

In the context of disaster and violent conflict, the government can prevent humanitarian and other assistance from reaching the people who need it most. In most conflict contexts, like Burundi, the government will itself be part of the conflict, and in no position to strengthen neutrality. In disaster contexts, like Nepal, the situation is complicated by the ways in which natural disasters highlight engrained inequalities.

Peace is about making the right choices so that everyone can live free from fear, with equal access to services, opportunities and decision-making. Let us hope and pray that anniversaries spur us on to do all that we can to achieve this.