Redefining Success (in humanitarianism)


In the humanitarian sector there are more clear incentives placed on competing with other actors for resources and visibility than there are incentives to mutually cooperate for the benefit of crises-affected people. In this type of scenario it becomes vital to redefine what success means, and incentivize the appropriate actions that will support it. One key area that needs to be addressed are the financial incentives of the sector's core donors.

Part of Solution

  • A Three-point Proposal to Change the Humanitarian system

  • Additional Information

    Action Items from pp. 72 + 73 of HMG's report, "Time to Let Go"

    Incentivize shared responsibility and independent financing
    Governments and humanitarian organization should explore the development of a humanitarian funding instrument reserved for responses in sudden-onset emergencies and short-term responses to acute spikes in protracted crises. Such an instrument should offer diversity of donorship and predictable and flexible funds, while promoting humanitarian action as a universal endeavor, shared responsibility and impartial tool. UN Assessed Contributions, a more inclusive CERF, the World Health Organization (WHO)’s mechanism of negotiated core contributions, negotiated replenishment (as used for the International Development Association (IDA) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)) are all models that could be explored. The Education in Emergencies platform, which aims to bring humanitarian and development activities, institutions and funds together around a common strategy and common source of funds, is one initiative to watch. A mixture of models and instruments might be necessary.

    Incentivized localized response
    Donors should reduce barriers to financing local NGOs and diaspora networks and strive to ensure that they lead and inform responses wherever possible, and much more meaningfully than they do at present. Bilateral and key multilateral donors should set ambitious targets for providing a significant share of their humanitarian aid directly to local NGOs, CSOs and diaspora groups. This policy-level decision should be accompanied by clear processes and standards to enable local actors to qualify as full partners for donors, including a commitment by donors to resolve the legislative hurdles (e.g. on counter-terror financing) that make it more difficult for local actors to receive funds, and develop good practice for identifying, monitoring and strengthening local partners. Interim arrangements should include partnership models, where international NGOs provide the fiduciary management structure, acting as trustees for interventions by local NGOs, building on tested practices in ongoing crises.


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