Development Blog

Currently an average of only 0.2% of global humanitarian aid goes directly to local or national NGOs and civil society organisations. Multiple studies have shown that local capacity is often significantly underutilised, undervalued and overlooked by larger international organisations.

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People waiting outside a mobile health clinic set up by CARE and local partner organisation Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) at a primary school in Gaza city, August 2014 People waiting outside a mobile health clinic set up by CARE and local partner organisation Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) at a primary school in Gaza city, August 2014

From afar, the southern African countries of Madagascar and Malawi will not figure in conversations about the disasters affecting the world. When I told people I was going there on an emergency response deployment they looked at me baffled and asked: “Why – what’s happening there?”

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A woman crossing a field in Madagascar A woman crossing a field in Madagascar

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has just held its Annual Meeting in London, and I was lucky enough to participate in a panel discussion on their recently published Strategy for the Promotion of Gender Equality 2016-2020. A key focus of the discussion was how EBRD can best work with civil society organisations towards achievement of the strategy. There are many points to welcome in the strategy – but also many challenges to be faced...

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A woman holding a savings group book in Haiti A woman holding a savings group book in Haiti

One of the three key goals of the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul on 23-24 May is to “reaffirm our commitment to humanity and humanitarian principles.” Sitting here in Amman, Jordan, working closely with Syrian colleagues delivering assistance inside Syria, as well as to the five million refugees who have been displaced from the country, the pressing need to reaffirm these commitments is clear.

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A family in Dara’a governorate in southern Syria, where CARE is working with partners to deliver emergency supplies to more than 30,000 people A family in Dara’a governorate in southern Syria, where CARE is working with partners to deliver emergency supplies to more than 30,000 people

People have a certain image of what constitutes an emergency. To someone you ask in the street they would probably imagine panic, chaos and people desperately trying to save their families. And that is true but not always the case, as emergencies get more drawn out due to long-standing conflict, like in Syria, or are slow-burning crises such as Ethiopia’s drought brought on by the climate impacts of El Nino. In these situations, emergency is embedded in everyday life – thinking about the safest route to go to the market or children dropping out of school becomes a part of daily life. And this is when it is not so easy to differentiate humanitarian and development approaches as short-term creeps into long-term.

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Kedija Abra Umer, leader of a village savings group in East Hararghe, Ethiopia, an area which has been badly affected by drought Kedija Abra Umer, leader of a village savings group in East Hararghe, Ethiopia, an area which has been badly affected by drought

A week ago, MSF announced that they are pulling out of the World Humanitarian Summit, slamming the process for its failure to tackle the major challenges facing efforts to protect and assist people in times of crisis. Indeed they went so far as to state that the Summit process was part of the problem – by its agenda blurring the lines between development, political and humanitarian action.

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Two refugees from Afghanistan pictured by a roadside near the Serbia-Croatia border in 2015 Two refugees from Afghanistan pictured by a roadside near the Serbia-Croatia border in 2015

With humanitarian crises in the Middle East, Africa and Asia having reached the shores of Europe, political attention is finally fixed at what is perhaps the greatest challenge of our time: reversing the trend of ever greater numbers of people deprived and displaced by war or natural disasters, and the failure to provide them with the dignified assistance they need. The World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul on May 23 and 24 is an historic opportunity to kick-start that effort. Unfortunately, despite years of preparation and a very thorough process of consultation by the UN, I fear this opportunity is going to be missed.

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A family of Syrian refugees at the Serbia-Croatia border in 2015 A family of Syrian refugees at the Serbia-Croatia border in 2015