Humanitarian Exchange articles tagged:Policy

This article questions whether the humanitarian cluster system’s mechanisms for strategic thinking really allow plans to be adapted as situations change, with a particular focus on the Shelter Cluster during the Haiti earthquake response Using strategy documents, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)’s Financial Tracking Service and minutes of the Strategic Advisory Group (SAG) of the Haiti Shelter Cluster (the coordination structure for shelter agencies), we ask whether different decisions could have been made in early 2010. The article seeks to determine whether more questions could have been asked about the assumptions underpinning the response; learn from…
In eight out of the past ten years, there has been drought somewhere in the Horn of Africa, affecting nearly 70 million people. Indeed, the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia suffer from water scarcity on an almost annual basis. In this context, water trucking has played a pivotal role in addressing basic water needs. It is a coping mechanism during ‘typical’ dry seasons, based on existing private sector water trucks and vendors who sell water to those who are able to pay for it. In times of drought, direct water trucking is a common relief…
For all the dialogue, debate and reams of policy and advocacy reports on civil–military policy trends, there is surprisingly little research on these issues. All sides of the debate are missing data that might help them make a more convincing case that current civil–military policy trends are either necessary or dangerous, as articulated by governments/militaries and NGOs respectively. Governments are tying aid more explicitly to political and security goals and pushing for a comprehensive approach that integrates civilian and military personnel. Military personnel are receiving growing mandates and resources to work alongside NGOs and local populations to provide ‘civic assistance’…
Accountability to affected populations. The ubiquity of the phrase in the humanitarian sector masks a crucial fact: while formulating a policy statement detailing accountability aspirations is relatively easy, actually being accountable to recipients of aid is often, surprisingly, difficult – and demonstrating that you have been accountable is more challenging still. Part of the problem is the sheer diversity of accountability delivery methods available. But more problematic is the fact that, despite the decade-long focus on accountability, little research has been conducted on the link between accountability mechanisms and programme effectiveness. As Paul Knox-Clarke of ALNAP has suggested, arguments for…
In recent decades the drylands of the Horn of Africa have become one of the most disaster-prone regions in the world. Drought in particular affects more people, more frequently than any other disaster. Drought periods were not always so disastrous but, combined with the region’s underlying economic, social and environmental vulnerability, the impacts upon dryland inhabitants are extreme. Despite calls for greater investment in preparedness, early response and long-term resiliencebuilding, the 2011 drought crisis in the region illustrates how this has not yet been translated into reality. It is an intuitive belief that investment in early response and resilience-building in…
In July 2011, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Working Group asked the Task Force on Humanitarian Space and Civil–Military Relations to review and update the IASC Non-binding Guidelines on the Use of Military and Armed Escorts for Humanitarian Convoys (2001). The primary concerns that led to the decision to revise the guidelines were the recognition of a growing reliance on armed escorts, the need to synchronise a more robust decision-making process on the use of armed escorts with the new UN Security Management System (SMS) and inconsistencies in the interpretation and application of the out-of-date guidelines. The revised guidelines, which…
With an annual budget of $650 billion and over two million military and civilian personnel, the US Department of Defense is the largest institution in the world. Since September 2001, its primary focus has been the ‘global war on terror’, a war of avowedly unlimited scope and duration. Its critical components include counter-insurgency and stabilisation operations, which have increasingly involved the US military in relief and development activities. NGOs have struggled to develop a unified response to the growing scope and pace of US military involvement in areas normally reserved for civilian leadership and action. Although regular dialogue has been…
The latest DAC peer review of Austria (November 1999) once again highlights Austria’s poor position of overseas development aid (ODA). This is characterised on the one hand by the small amount of money involved, and on the other by the lack of an overall aid policy and strategy that links all components to a clear set of development objectives. Total ODA of Austria in 1998 was 0.22 per cent of GNP (410m Euros), compared to 0.26 per cent in 1997. About one-fifth of Austria’s ODA still consists of components not primarily targeted at the development of the receiving country (for example, aid for refugees in Austria, indirect study costs in Austria,…
Most international NGOs (INGOs) delivering humanitarian assistance in disrupted societies have yet to design and implement concrete programmes that encourage substantive partnerships with local organisations, despite a broad and sincere effort to make such cooperation a centrepiece of relief and development. Enduring collaboration and capacity building depend on INGOs taking initiative and spending money on partnerships in politically charged environments, advocacy with donors and host governments, and serious institutional investment in local organisations. A Princeton University graduate research team visited five countries (Bosnia, Mozambique, Pakistan, Palestine, and Sudan) and interviewed more than 100 local and INGOs in November 1999 to assess the cooperative ventures between the two in politically disrupted environments. The study focused on four…
‘Principles of humanitarian aid have been turned on their head. Never before has politics had so much to say about humanitarian affairs’ Interview, diplomat, Belgrade, February 2000 The combined effects of three wars, economic transition and sanctions have caused massive political and economic upheaval in Serbia over the past decade, leaving an estimated two million people below the poverty line. Focussing on the energy sector, this article analyses how humanitarian responses to the country’s multiple crises have been shaped by international politics, and how the boundaries between humanitarian and political action have become increasingly blurred. Hot and Cold Wars: the problem of energy Maintaining energy supplies is a necessity in any country, particularly one which is urban and…
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