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Int'l aid agencies call for partnerships on humanitarian operation

01 April 2014, 19:00

Nairobi - International aid agencies have called for closer partnerships with national and local actors to deliver humanitarian response in the wake of disasters such as floods, famines and earthquakes.

According to a report commissioned by four agencies, major evaluations of numerous high profile humanitarian crises have identified insufficient investment in, and commitment to, such partnerships as the biggest hindrance to effective performance.

The report which was launched in Nairobi late Monday shows that international organizations which help people recover from disasters such as floods, famines and earthquakes are missing opportunities to achieve more.

"Local organizations can respond more rapidly in the aftermath of a rapid-onset emergency such as a hurricane or earthquake," said the report which was commissioned by ActionAid, Cafod, Christian Aid, Oxfam and Tearfund.

The report, Missed Opportunities, reveals that when international aid organizations work in partnership with local and national groups in countries affected by disasters, their efforts tend to be more effective, relevant and appropriate to the people they are trying to help.

"In addition, their expert knowledge of the local area and culture means they are often best at identifying who is most in need and how to help them," says the report.

But the report finds that international aid organizations, as well as the systems through which they work together, have for years failed to invest in and commit sufficiently to partnerships with local organizations. Such partnerships inevitably have costs – including financial ones - as well as benefits.

"Local and national organizations play a crucial part in saving lives and rebuilding communities after disasters, but are too often sidelined by the international humanitarian system," Alexander Carnwath of Christian Aid, who managed the research, told journalists in Nairobi.

"This research provides strong evidence of the benefits they bring following emergencies and calls for a fundamental change to the humanitarian system, to strengthen their role," Carnwath said.

The report is based on the five commissioning organisations' experience in four major emergencies, the Democratic Republic of Congo conflict 2009-12, the Haiti earthquake of 2010, the Kenya food crisis of 2010 and the Pakistan floods of 2010.

All five organizations work through local partner organizations, some exclusively and others in addition to direct delivery of aid.

ActionAid Kenya's Executive Director Bijay Kumar said strong relationships with local organizations that have local knowledge and expertise are the key to a speedy and effective humanitarian response.

"This has been the cornerstone of ActionAid's approach for years and is the best way to create sustainable change," Kumar said.

Researchers interviewed staff from the five organizations and also from their partner organizations in the countries concerned, as well as doing an extensive review of published and internal documents about the four emergencies.

The report also looks at the potential of partnerships with national nongovernmental organizations (NNGOs) in humanitarian response, based on lessons from across the commissioning agencies in four major emergency settings.

- Xinhua


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