Righting the Wrong: Strengthening local humanitarian leadership to save lives and strengthen communities | Aids

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Tens of millions of people receive vital humanitarian aid every year, but millions more suffer without adequate help and protection, and their number is relentlessly rising. Far too often their suffering is because their governments cannot, or intentionally will not, ensure their citizens' access to aid and protection. This paper looks at how we can improve the humanitarian system and calls for a shift of power and resources from international actors to local actors.
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  Righting the wrong Strengthening local humanitarian leadershipto save lives and strengthen communities  IntroductionWHAT IS WRONG? Good, but not good enough Tens of millions of people receive vital humanitarian aid every year, but millions more suffer without adequate help and protec-tion, and their number is relentlessly rising.Far too often their suffering is because their governments can-not, or intentionally will not, ensure their citizens’ access to aid and protection.In addition, international aid has not kept pace with the rising tide of climate-related disasters and seemingly intractable conflicts, and promises to help affected people reduce their vulnerability to future disasters and lead their own humanitarian response have not yet been kept.The international humanitarian system—the vast UN-led net-work in which Oxfam and other international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs), the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, and others play key roles—is not saving as many lives as it could because of deep design flaws that perpetuate an unsustainable reliance by aid recipients on international donors. Despite these flaws, much has been accomplished in the past 70 years. Courageous aid workers have saved thousands of lives and provided vital services such as health care, water, and protection to millions. But today’s system is overstretched, and humanitarian assistance is often insufficient, late, and inappropriate for the local context. How do we right this wrong? By shifting more power, resources, and responsibility from the international actors—UN agencies, wealthy donor countries, large INGOs, and the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement—to local actors, including Red Cross/Red Crescent local chapters, national governments, national NGOs, local NGOs, community-based groups, and other civil society organizations.It’s a huge task. Today, only a small fraction of funding is given directly to local actors. More often, local humanitarian aid workers take direction from the international humanitarian community, which tends to relegate them to the role of subcontractors, rather than equal partners. This role leaves the local actors in no better position to prevent or respond to the next crisis. In addition, donors and national governments are investing too little in prevention and risk reduction efforts that could diminish the need for humanitarian response. Demand outstripping supply Although more humanitarian assistance is being delivered than ever before—hitting a record $24.5 billion in 2014 1 —the need for aid is growing even faster. By the end of 2014, violent conflict and political oppression had displaced nearly 60 million people, a number not seen since World War II (see Figure 1). 2  That same year, disasters from climate-related natural hazards affected 138 million people, and since 1965, the number of such disasters occurring annually increased dramatically from 52 to an all-time high of 401 in 2005 (see Figure 2). These trends are projected to continue as a result of unabated protracted crises due to conflict 3  and climate change that is leading to more frequent and more intense droughts, floods, and storms. 4 Unfortunately, there is also a long-term trend of aid shortages. From 2004 to 2013, on average, donors met less than two-thirds of humanitarian needs annually (see Figure 3), 5  and these shortages have had devastating consequences. For example, in late 2014, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) temporarily suspended food aid to 1.7 million Syrian refugees. And again in July 2015, WFP had to slash food aid to Syrian refugees due to funding shortfalls. 6  To some extent, we can attribute this chronic underfunding of humanitarian assistance to weak economies or broader cuts to official development assistance (ODA) in some major donor countries, such as Spain and Australia. However, the problem is mainly due to donors’ failure to make humanitarian assistance more of a policy priority. For example, collectively, the members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC)—which accounted for the overwhelming bulk of humanitarian assis-tance from governments—provided $11.8 billion in humanitarian aid in 2012, but the wealthy OECD countries’ military spending that year totaled $1.2 trillion, or more than 100 times as much. 7    Righting the Wrong  | OXFAM   1 FIGURE 1:  Forced migration, 2000–2014 Sources: UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Norwegian Refugee Council, US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI). 200060Asylum seekersRefugeesΤotalInternally displaced persons2001200220032004200520062007200820092010201120122013201450403020100    M   I   L   L   I   O   N   S   O   F   P   E   O   P   L   E YEARS 1 15.921.238.1 0.9 0.9 0.8 0.7 0.7 0.6 0.6 0.8 0.80.9 0.9 0.9 1.2 1.8 14.424.41615.22615.22715.226.442.515.527.515.428.816.733.319.538.259.551.245.143.843.14242.62639.413.123.337.113.825.339.813.824.639.214.615.9252540.541.8  FIGURE 3:  Demand outstripping supply, UN-coordinated humanitarian appeals, 2004–2013 Source: Development Initiatives, Global Humanitarian Assistance Report 2014 , Figure 2.2, 16. 2004Funding     $    B   I   L   L   I   O   N   S 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 201324681012140Unmet needs Total requirements2.24.0 4.05.77.1 8.05.86.38.54.613.24.210.53.69.54.92.810.02.38.11.65.53.92.05.92.06.01.33.5   12.9YEARS 52666061525255585564566610210491107120130169126139127168174149230186169228215217209234254299375347377318307401364387318318363298314298291 FIGURE 2:  Disasters from climate-related natural hazards, 1965–2014 Source: Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) EM-DAT database, Catholic University of Louvain,Belgium, http://emdat.be/. Note: Includes meteorological, hydrological, and climatological disasters: Meteorological = extreme temperature, fog, storm; Hydrological = flood, landslide, wave action;Climatological = drought, glacial lake outburst, wildfire. Some of the increases in the number of disasters and people affected over time may be due to improved reporting. 5004003002001000          1         9         6         5         1         9         6         6         1         9         6         7         1         9         6         8         1         9         6         9         1         9         7         0         1         9         7         1         1         9         7         2         1         9         7         3         1         9         7         4         1         9         7         5         1         9         7         6         1         9         7         7         1         9         7         8         1         9         7         9         1         9         8         0         1         9         8         1         1         9         8         2         1         9         8         3         1         9         8         4         1         9         8         5         1         9         8         6         1         9         8         7         1         9         8         8         1         9         8         9         1         9         9         0         1         9         9         1         1         9         9         2         1         9         9         3         1         9         9         4         1         9         9         5         1         9         9         6         1         9         9         7         1         9         9         8         1         9         9         9         2         0         0         0         2         0         0         1         2         0         0         2         2         0         0         3         2         0         0         4         2         0         0         5         2         0         0         6         2         0         0         7         2         0         0         8         2         0         0         9         2         0         1         0         2         0         1         1         2         0         1         2         2         0         1         3         2         0         1         4 YEARS 2 OXFAM |  Righting the Wrong
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