Missed Opportunities: The case for strengthening national and local partnership-based humanitarian responses | Non Governmental Organization

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This study is the first output of a research project commissioned by five UK-based international humanitarian non-governmental organisations (INGOs) – ActionAid, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Oxfam GB and Tearfund. The main purpose of the project was to look at the current and future potential of partnerships with national non-governmental organisations (NNGOs) in humanitarian response, based on lessons from across the commissioning agencies in four major emergency settings. The project is part of an ongoing effort to build the future of humanitarian assistance, which has already seen publications in 2011 from Christian Aid and Oxfam GB. The research process involved interviews with INGO and NNGO staff, workshops and meetings with INGO representatives, and a review of relevant documentation. A second output of this research has also been published 'Missed Again: Making space for partnership in the typhoon Haiyan response'.
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  MISSED OPPORTUNITIES: the case for strengthening national and local partnership-based humanitarian responses  Front cover photo: Christian Aid partner CCSMKE supported the community in Parkinshon village, Marsabit district, during the 2010 Kenyan food crisis. They focused on raising levels of nutrition, distributing animal feed, providing water and monitoring the health of the most vulnerable © Christian Aid/Branwen Niclas This report was commissioned by a consortium of UK-based international non-governmental organisations: ActionAid, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Oxfam GB and Tearfund. The research project was managed by Alexander Carnwath of Christian Aid, supported by an advisory group comprising Rosie Oglesby and Sonya Ruparel of ActionAid, Anne Street of CAFOD, Nigel Timmins of Oxfam GB, Oenone Chadburn of Tearfund. The report was written by Ben Ramalingam, Bill Gray and Giorgia Cerruti.Many thanks to the staff and partners of the five agencies who invested their valuable time in the research process. Acknowledgments  Contents Executive summary   4 Introduction  6 Focus and methodology   8  Findings  10 Can partnerships realise their potential?  24 Conclusions and recommendations  26  6   Missed Opportunities   Chapter heading   Executive summary Partnerships with national and local actors have long been identified as a source of problems in international humanitarian aid. Major evaluations of numerous high profile humanitarian crises – most notably that of the Indian Ocean tsunami – have identified insufficient investment in, and commitment to, such partnerships as the biggest hinderance to effective performance. The reality is that efforts to work with national and local actors do not play a central role in the majority of international humanitarian work. This amounts to a longstanding systemic issue for the sector as a whole, which has persisted despite the efforts made by individual agencies to invest time and effort in this area.This study is the first output of a research project commissioned by five UK-based international humanitarian non-governmental organisations (INGOs) – ActionAid, Cafod, Christian Aid, Oxfam GB and Tearfund. The main purpose of the project was to look at the current and future potential of partnerships with national non-governmental organisations (NNGOs) in humanitarian response, based on lessons from across the commissioning agencies in four major emergency settings. The project is part of an ongoing effort to build the future of humanitarian assistance, which has already seen publications in 2011 from Christian Aid and Oxfam GB. The research process involved interviews with INGO and NNGO staff, workshops and meetings with INGO representatives, and a review of relevant documentation.A number of the INGO organisations have used partnerships – partly or exclusively – as the means by which they respond to new and emerging humanitarian crises. Some of the partnerships looked at for this research date back several decades. However, the approach taken to partnerships in the majority of humanitarian responses tends to be reactive, driven by emergency, and shaped by ad-hoc interactions that take place at the point of crisis. The sector is not yet systematic about partnerships: how they are thought about, designed, implemented or assessed. Despite this, and the well-known constraints faced in many response settings, the research found a significant number of benefits that stem from working through such collaborative mechanisms. Such partnerships were identified as helping to: ã  enhance the relevance  and appropriateness  of humanitarian responses. National and local actors’ understanding of context and internal dynamics allow them to shape programmes accordingly. ã  enhance the effectiveness  of assistance, by ensuring accountability to disaster-affected populations. ã  smooth the transition between the different elements of the disaster cycle. Unlike the international system where tasks such as resilience, response and recovery might be undertaken by different teams and organisations, local
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