Beyond the WHS - Now What?
The recently concluded World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) saw the attendance of more than 9,000 participants including representation from 173 Member States, 700 NGOs, 350 private sector organizations and 130 UN agencies, funds and programmes, 1000 media outlets, as well as other stakeholders. The event also included 7 high level leaders’ roundtables and 15 special sessions, 291 speakers at the announcement plenary and 130 side events. The summit was also evidenced by over 1,300 commitments to action, and over 2,400 alignments with the core commitments.
If one is to measure success by the numbers, these are indeed good numbers. But the number of those in need remains exceedingly overwhelming. So what do these WHS numbers have to do with the person in need? How do they translate to affected populations and to what the summit set out to achieve?
These are the questions we, as NEAR, are asking ourselves as we roll up our sleeves, ready for work. The Network for Empowered Aid Response (NEAR) has now been launched. This platform is created for the sole purpose of enhancing the voice and participation of local actors in decision making forums, to influence policy decisions that affect their lives. As local and national organizations, we see ourselves playing a significant role in propelling the international system to a future that is people-centred; one where local communities have the capacity, resources and agency to address the challenges they face.
While we recognize the fervor for change by the global community, and while we remain optimistic about this change, we are coming to terms with certain truths. One glaring truth is that the success of these commitments, partnerships and dialogues birthed by the WHS will only be seen in how much they visibly affect the life of that person at the local level.
The summit created a platform to begin a conversation. It is indeed a good start, but it is also very easy to stagnate, to make these commitments and curl back into the warm comfort of the status quo. So, we as local organizations who work closely with communities and affected populations, we who have been affected by crises one time or the other, we must confront the important questions. How are we going to hold each other accountable to these commitments? How are we going to measure success, and who will be measuring? How soon should we expect results?
During the launch of the network, Mr. Claus Sorensen, the former Director General of ECHO challenged NEAR to keep an eye on the commitments emerging from the Grand Bargain. We are taking it upon ourselves as a network of local and national organizations to advocate for a transparent global mechanism that will monitor the funding flowing to local actors. Similarly, we commit to undertake research on the transaction cost in the aid industry in order to establish how much of the aid dollar actually gets to affected people.
We see ourselves as actors with a responsibility to affected populations. In the words of the UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, the problems of the current system cannot be solved in isolation. Change is going to be a collective effort and so in an effort to implement the Grand Bargain’s 25% target humanitarian to local and national organizations by 2020, we plan to establish national pooled funds managed by local actors, exclusively for local actors. Further, in the next five years, we hope to pilot 3 such national pooled funds.
NEAR will also work with strategic regional, national and local partners to strengthen the capacity of local organizations so that we are more accountable to donors and the community we serve.
We call on all actors to work in solidarity with us to promote an equitable, dignified and accountable aid system.
- NEAR Secretariat