The Black Lives Matter movement, #AidToo, and the failure to support locally-led responses during COVID-19 have spotlighted power imbalances in the humanitarian sector. Whether between large NGOs and local organizations, or crisis-affected populations, there are limited ways for people to participate in decisions that affect them, particularly those on the frontline.
CGD Policy Blogs
In new analysis, our experts review 15 NGO governing boards engaged in humanitarian response, and find that fewer than 20% of board members were from countries that are eligible to receive aid. Explore the interactive tool to learn more.
Demand-Driven Humanitarian Action in the Asia-Pacific: A Conversation with National and Regional Actors
We’re facing a “make or break” moment to reset commitments to humanitarian reform. The Asia-Pacific region has proven itself a unique case with increasing national and regional leadership; begging the question, how do global ideas for humanitarian reform apply in this context?
Humanitarian donor governments today spend roughly $25 billion every year, and approximately two-thirds of this is channeled through UN agencies and the international Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement.
COVID-19 is compounding humanitarian crises across the globe and exposing the current aid model as ill-adapted to support the frontline response. We have argued that applying an area-based model to humanitarian coordination would help tailor crisis response to the priorities and capacities of local communities and responders.
It is easy to critique humanitarian organizations for inefficiencies and other flaws in their coordination functions. But deeper examination of issues such as media exposure and incentives to coordinate makes it clearer that, given their current funding model, their actions may be rational institutional behavior.
Past humanitarian reform agendas have continually emphasised the need for humanitarian response to be locally owned. But for two decades, attempts to systematically elevate the representation, participation, and power of local actors have fallen short; donor governments still have an incentive to channel their funding through large international organizations.
Coordination is essential to effective humanitarian action. As a recent policy paper argues, an area-based approach would better align humanitarian action around the needs of crisis-affected people – compared to the cluster system. To understand how this approach operates at the local level and its benefits and challenges, Patrick Saez spoke with Noorina Ani, Abdul Wodood Elemyar, Farkhunda Samsoor and Jahanzeb Daudzai of NRC Afghanistan about their experiences with the “Urban Displacement Out of Camps” programme.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted once again that the humanitarian business model is poorly suited to today’s world. Humanitarian action is most effective when it is demand-driven and locally owned. But the humanitarian sector remains supply-driven: oriented primarily around donor preference and the global mandates of large aid agencies.
In this fourth episode of the Rethinking Humanitarianism podcast series, hosts Heba Aly and Jeremy Konyndyk talk to three disruptors about their visions for alternative humanitarian action.