Development Blog

I am sitting in the closing plenary of the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul next to women first responders - civil society partners - from Syria, Somalia and Pakistan. It's been two intensive days, at times despairing, at times inspiring, in a sprawling, labyrinthine venue apparently built as a metaphor for the process. We often didn't quite know where we were going on more than one level.

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The high level leaders roundtable on gender The high level leaders roundtable on gender

On Friday 20 May 2016, on the eve of the first ever World Humanitarian Summit, CARE International with the support of Hogan Lovells convened a business/UN/government roundtable to discuss the potential for business to empower women in emergencies. Business has played an active role in the WHS process, and a set of ‘core commitments’ on gender equality in humanitarian action has been tabled for the Summit outcomes. But these two agendas are yet to be linked. The roundtable looked at how this might happen both as part of the WHS process and beyond.

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Zemey Vamaniutra is a member of a farmers' group in Madagascar which teaches farmers modern agricultural techniques to help people survive the effects of the El Nino weather phenomenon Zemey Vamaniutra is a member of a farmers' group in Madagascar which teaches farmers modern agricultural techniques to help people survive the effects of the El Nino weather phenomenon

The World Humanitarian Summit has had a rough ride over the past few months, not least from us at CARE, who have noisily demanded it engage with the need for political action and that it fully address the huge gender differences in disaster and conflict. However, to my surprise, at the end of the first day, it’s mostly achieved its aims.

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Gareth Price-Jones speaking at the CARE stand at the World Humanitarian Summit Gareth Price-Jones speaking at the CARE stand at the World Humanitarian Summit

An interview with Naseer Memon of the National Humanitarian NGO Network in Pakistan

The National Humanitarian NGO Network (NHN) was established in 2010 to support joint work between national civil society organisations working in humanitarian response in Pakistan. NHN has sought to influence the outcomes of the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS), including by developing a joint statement by national NGOs in Pakistan on the process. Naseer Memon, chief executive of SPO (Strengthening Participatory Organization – a national NGO) and current chair of NHN, shared his thoughts on the WHS.

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Children look out from a temporary tent home after flooding caused by heavy rains in September 2014 affected more than 2 million people. Photo from CARE partner organisation Awaz. Children look out from a temporary tent home after flooding caused by heavy rains in September 2014 affected more than 2 million people. Photo from CARE partner organisation Awaz.

Back in 2013, a senior UN policy-maker told CARE: “Gender isn’t summit-worthy.” Since then, concerted advocacy by hundreds of women and men has turned this around. CARE has played a leading role by co-convening the first global consultation with over 40 women from every region with the WHS Secretariat, and following up at the national level in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Jordan and elsewhere. So what can we expect from the Summit, and what are the next steps?

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Rachele Nsii, a displaced woman in the Democratic Republic of Congo Rachele Nsii, a displaced woman in the Democratic Republic of Congo

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