Humanitarian Exchange articles tagged:NGOs

Because we see our people, our brothers, speaking our language, we can believe what they say Female focus group respondent, John Thorpe Community The Ebola crisis in West Africa was the defining humanitarian crisis of 2014 for Oxfam, and arguably for the humanitarian community at large. As the number of Ebola cases escalated, Oxfam – as a WASH agency in what was initially considered a medical emergency – struggled to find a constructive role. More needed to be done on prevention, so Oxfam decided to focus on Ebola prevention activities with community health volunteers in Liberia and Sierra Leone. In…
On 2 September 2014, Dr Joanne Liu, International President of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), made an urgent appeal to United Nations member states to deploy biohazard containment teams to support the response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.[1] For MSF, this call was unprecedented since the biohazard response capacities of powerful states are typically a military capability developed in response to biological or chemical warfare, rather than epidemic control. Despite the strong consensus within MSF that led to this call, it was not without operational and reputational risks. August 2014: an epidemic out of control The Ebola outbreak in…
Affordable housing experts have long argued that housing is ‘both the stock of dwelling units (a noun) and the process by which that stock is created and maintained (a verb)’.[1] They have also advocated for ‘supporting’ rather than ‘providing’ approaches: enabling families to upgrade their own housing situation through improved access to and management of land, finance, services, materials, skills and labour rather than the provision of completed houses.[2] Over 30 years after Ian Davis described shelter after disaster as ‘a process, not as an object’,[3] process- oriented approaches to post-disaster housing are still rarely implemented on the ground.[4] From…
Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines on 8 November 2013, killing 6,300 people and injuring another 29,000. An estimated four million people were displaced from their homes. This article reflects on Catholic Relief Service (CRS)’s urban shelter and settlement recovery programme in Tacloban City. The programme, which offers a ‘menu of options’ to households, works closely with affected communities to find shelter solutions by putting decision- making power in the hands of households themselves. The USAID/OFDA and CRS urban shelter and settlements recovery programme The Humanitarian Communities’ Strategic Response Plan for Typhoon Haiyan, approved by the national government, states that families…
As Typhoon Haiyan made landfall on 8 November 2013, aid agencies and donors alike realised that, if ever there were an environment where cash transfers would be appropriate, it was the Philippines. Some 16 million people were affected; 1.1m houses were damaged or destroyed, 4.1m people were displaced and around 6,200 lost their lives. In response, at least 45 international humanitarian agencies implemented cash transfer programmes in one of the most sophisticated humanitarian cash interventions to date. This article reflects on the author’s experience of delivering cash in the Philippines and draws out some key observations, challenges and opportunities for…
In an attempt to better understand the new aid landscape, Me´decins Sans Frontie`res (MSF) conducted three studies to see how MSF field teams interact with ‘new’ aid actors, and how decisions on these relations were made. Three countries where MSF was involved in emergency response in 2013 were selected: Mali, Syria and the Philippines. Actors encountered during these studies included international NGOs from the Middle East and Asia, non-European Red Cross and Red Crescent societies working internationally, diaspora groups, regional organisations, governmental agencies, local NGOs and private sector organisations. Mali Following the resumption of a rebellion in 2012 and a…
Just over a year after Typhoon Haiyan devastated parts of the Philippines important lessons need to be learnt about how international actors partner and work with national organisations. The Philippines has consid- erably more local and national capacity to manage disaster response than many countries in the region. It also has a great deal of experience in dealing with disasters. Despite this, the scale and nature of the typhoon, and the storm surge it triggered, was initially overwhelming. In the weeks that followed, however, local and national humanitarian actors were also undermined by the international response. Despite being some of…
Shortly after Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in November 2013, I was employed as an advisor by a long-standing national NGO based in Cebu city, which in turn worked with a number of community-based organisations in Cebu Island, Bohol Island and the wider Tacloban region. The NGO, which went on to receive close to $1 million in funding for relief activities, wanted professional guidance to ensure that it was applying good principles in its work in the food, non-food, shelter and health sectors. This article is based on observations of the experiences of these local organisations as they attempted to…
Sudden-onset emergencies are typically chaotic, making effective communication between communities, humanitarian responders and governments, whether local or international, challenging. Building on experience from the response to Typhoon Bopha in Mindanao in 2012, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) supported the coordination of communication with disaster-affected communities following Typhoon Haiyan with the deployment of an interagency Communications with Communities (CwC) Coordinator and other CwC field staff. CwC cross-sectoral working groups were set up in the typhoon-affected area, convening local and international NGOs, UN agencies, the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, media development actors, local media, mobile operators…
The humanitarian response to Typhoon Haiyan demonstrated that the concept of accountability to affected people (AAP) is firmly established on the agenda of humanitarian agencies.[1] It also showed that agencies could still benefit from better practical ways to achieve it in practice. Within the first month of the response, a number of major initiatives had been launched, including establishing an IASC AAP Coordinator position, building accountability activities into the work plan of the Humanitarian Coordinator and individual agencies deploying specialist staff and developing accountability activities. The operating context in the Philippines created genuine opportunities for enhancing accountability to affected people.…
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