Thursday, 26 February 2015

The UN questioning the efficiency of humanitarian aid

Source: Afghanistan: Stacking USAID-Donated Wheat Afghan men are stacking bags of wheat that was donated by USAID. Photographer: Nitin Madhav Photographer's Organization: USAID Location of Photograph (City, Country): Afghanistan. wikicommons.

The United Nations is preparing the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit which will take place in Istanbul. Today, discussions are ongoing in London on the future of humanitarian aid. They are conducted by the following participants:  UN agencies, international and national NGOs, Red Cross and Red Crescent organisations, academics, private sector companies, government representatives and the people affected by crises themselves.

According to IRIN, here are the main issues which have been raised:

  • Counter-terrorism legislation needs to be reviewed so that it does not limit aid delivery to people in conflict zones controlled by armed groups.
  • Local NGOs and organisations should receive a fixed percentage of funding in a crisis –the amount is still up for debate.
  • Mandate should not necessarily trump capacity and access. It’s time to let the most able and suitable organisation respond, rather than rely on hierarchical structures.
  • A number of international NGOs have called for a formal re-affirmation of humanitarian principles.  
  • Attitudes towards local organisations need to change. They should be equal partners not sub-contractors. UN agencies and large NGOs should accept that national players may know more about a context than they do.
  • Funding needs to be more flexible and longer-term, especially in constantly evolving conflict situations. NGOs should be able to plan their response based on need, not donor priorities.
  • A call for a new policy relating to internally displaced people in the Middle East, following on from the Kampala Convention for IDPs in Africa. 
  • Innovation is important but donors need to share some of the financial risk and be more open to untested ideas.
  • Political solutions should be a priority of governments and the UN Security Council in order to facilitate the end to conflict, displacement and humanitarian suffering.
  • Aid actors need to recognize the capacity and agency of affected people, instead of just seeing them as voiceless victims.

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