NEAR (Network for Empowered Aid Response) is a movement of local organizations with a bold ambition – to reshape the top-down humanitarian and development system to one that is locally driven and owned, and is built around equitable, dignified and accountable partnerships.
We want to increase genuine accountability to donors, the public, and affected communities by promoting greater transparency in local, national and international responses to humanitarian and development challenges. And we want people to beat the heart of every response so that donors at one end and affected communitieat the other can see the quantity and quality of what is delivered and received. We want to close the gap between the traditional aid system and the communities it aims to serve .
The acronym, NEAR, stands for Network for Empowered Aid Response. The name NEAR also acknowledges the vital role played by our local members, who are closer to their communities and often first to respond in times of crisis. It is their effectiveness and speediness in responding that often saves lives within the first few days of an emergency.
Local organizations are often the ones who are entrepreneurs and innovators in finding solutions to challenges that they intimately understand. We want to build on this and shape a system where local communities are empowered agents of change with the capacity to address the challenges that impact their own communities.
Organisations committed to joining NEAR are leading local and national organizations who have deep roots and credibility in local communities, and are united by the goal of making sure effective aid is delivered to people in need. Most of our members so far are from Africa, Asia, and Middle East which are some of the most vulnerable areas.
A list of all the committed organisations and their logos can be found here.
To us, local and national organisations are locally rooted, founded, headquartered, and respond to crises in their communities.
The need for NEAR has been long overdue but was first affirmed by a study commissioned in 2014 by the Kenyan based NGO, Adeso into the demand, feasibility and scope of such a network. The report findings revealed widespread support for its creation.
In 2015, at the Global Forum for Improving Humanitarian Action, over 20 leading organizations working with local communities officially endorsed the network and reaffirmed the need for a stronger local voice in the aid system.
Since then, ongoing consultations with local and national organizations serving communities in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America have helped shape the network's strategy and framework.
Although more resources are being directed to humanitarian and development aid, the need for that aid is growing too. Since 2011 (according to the Strategic Response Plan) the UN’s annual total humanitarian funding requirements have more than doubled, from $7.4 to $16.4 billion. Meanwhile the number of populations requiring aid has doubled over the past decade.
Crucially, the resources that directly reach people in need are diminishing. The gap between the aid system and the communities it aims to help has been widening.
There’s also very little investment in strengthening local organizations and communities. It’s clear that local people are often the fastest to react in a crisis – their local knowledge and ingenuity can save lives in an emergency, or find effective solutions to longer-term challenges. But local voices are often not given the attention they deserve in these situations – large international organizations tend to take priority over smaller local groups.
Lastly, there is a need for a stronger united voice between local organizations, to make sure the challenges their communities face are being addressed at an international level.
NEAR focuses on four main areas:
We enhance policy-level and operational collaboration between local and national organizations. We aim to increase local influence on decision-making at international, regional and national policy level through advocacy, networking and communication.
- Organizational development
We believe that robust and resilient organizations are key to increasing local capacity to respond to crisis and development challenges. We offer a platform for collaboration, along with learning and resources to strengthen the organizational capacity of our members as well as their accountability and preparedness to respond to the needs of their communities.
We advocate for increased access to direct funding for local and national organizations.
As part of this we are exploring the design of innovative financing models including piloting independent, pooled funding mechanisms at country levels managed by the network. The national funds would invest in the standing responsive capacity of organizations working with local communities and strengthen their ability to work with a wide range of partners, both for humanitarian aid, development and resilience building.
We counteract the lack of visibility in the international space of organizations working with local communities by actively promoting their work through research and evidence-based publications.
NEAR will collaborate with other networks through strategic partnerships at regional and local level. The network will develop MOUs that will outline the expectations of each party. These networks will promote each other’s vision and mission. NEAR will also look at the capacity needs of these networks and advocate for resource allocations to these networks to ensure that they can work in an effective manner.
The network will be structured as follows:
- General Assembly of Members
- Leadership Council
- The Secretariat
- Regional focal points
- National focal points that are voluntary
- Advisory group of allies
A first Leadership Council has been set up with founding members from Asia and Africa and will be expended to include members from South East Asia, Middle East and Latin America. The council will be made up of seven members, four of them elected and three of them selected. There will be an executive committee consisting of a chairperson, treasurer and the executive director.
The Leadership Council will provide strategic guidance, coordinate and assist in development of the preliminary governing structure, branding and operationalization of the network.
A secretariat consisting of an Executive Director, a Senior Communications and Advocacy Officer and a Network Support Officer has been set up.
The network secretariat will be led by the Executive Director to service and support the leadership council and membership. The role of the secretariat is to implement the strategic, advocacy and communications plan developed through membership consultation. It will also build membership engagement, advocate and promote the mission, vision and values of the network at international and regional level.
Adeso is acting as NEAR’s incubating organization by hosting the network secretariat and providing management support through financial, communications, and human resource and resources mobilisation services.
The network is headquartered in Nairobi at the Adeso offices.
Joining this network will give your organisation the opportunity to:
raise issues in solidarity with other organizations working with local communities at international, regional and local level
network, collaborate, learn and share experiences with members from different continents working with local communities
strengthen the capacity of your organization
take part in research activities to improve the evidence base and visibility of organizations working with local communities
A working group has been formed to develop the membership criteria, application process and the membership fee. It will then go to the leadership council for approval.