November 2020: Building Back (B)righter

The title of US President-elect Joe Biden’s transition website will not be lost on those working in the humanitarian and development spheres: ‘build back better’ has long been in circulation. Used during the recovery phases of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the 2010 Haiti earthquake responses, the term has experienced a resurgence of late among a variety of institutions and governments in the context of planning for the post-COVID-19 world. But quite what building back better entails is a question perhaps best answered by survivors of previous catastrophes.

September 2020: Humanitarianism in denial

Other than being islands, Manus, Bhasan Char, and Lesbos have something else in common: they are the Alcatraz of our age. But rather than housing notorious bank robbers and those convicted of high-profile homicide, these prisoner islands contain refugees and migrants fleeing war-torn societies and economic collapse. These islands serve as a convenient human storage facility for governments who deny these people their fundamental rights – most visibly, their right to freedom of movement. As a Member of the European Parliament recently said: “The European policy for those in [what used to be] Camp Mória on Lesbos is not failing, it is the policy.”
And yet,… READ IN FULL

June 2020: Risky business (and what’s next for the Grand Bargain)

As 30-odd political and humanitarian leaders lined up for the photo op to mark the signing of the Grand Bargain at the May 2016 World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, few were openly questioning the US$1billion efficiency programme promised by the High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing a few months earlier. More than four years later, the number of signatories of this humanitarian quid pro quo has doubled, yet little more has been heard on the US$1bn saving. And a number of those working in aid agencies are discretely wondering whether their investment (the favour bestowed on donors) will ever show a return… READ IN FULL

May 2020: No crystal ball needed – evaluating the COVID-19 response

Sooner or later, governments, UN organisations, NGOs, and others will undertake after-action reviews and evaluations of their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The message will be that they need to learn from this crisis by examining their preparedness, response capacity, and the measures taken. Though this pandemic is entirely new, it is highlighting existing issues raised by previous evaluations. It follows that the lessons of COVID-19 evaluations are predictable. And these lessons need not be learnt in several months but can be understood right now… READ IN FULL

March 2020: After COVID-19: Time to reset

COVID-19 is sending shockwaves through our personal lives and the societies in which we live. No country, however developed, however resilient, will emerge unscathed. But the pandemic will also have a lasting impact on the way humanitarian response is delivered. READ IN FULL 

February 2020: Keep it complex, stupid

The idea that systems work best if they avoid complexity and typify simplicity is one that most will support. This is also why, since the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit, the localisation of aid, the humanitarian-development nexus, and accountability to affected people have become panaceas for all the ills of humanitarian response. They are concepts that many will understand as remedying humanitarian action over the long term and in a transformative and sustainable way… READ IN FULL

January 2020: HERE’s where we start in 2020
At the start of this new decade, analysts’ forecasts are understandably drawn towards the implications of climate change, protracted armed conflict, and the clamp down on migration as the issues that will define the humanitarian agenda for the coming year, if not decade. Undoubtedly, by looking at the gap between policy and humanitarian practice, HERE will be addressing these urgent concerns as well. We will, however, not lose sight of those core issues we defined earlier as foundational for humanitarian action. In defining the agenda for the year, here are the five basic ambitions essential to all humanitarian performance… READ IN FULL