Q & A With Rezaul Chowdhury, Executive Director, COAST Bangladesh
August 19th is a day that aims to honor humanitarian workers who have lost their lives or injured themselves in the course of their work, and to acknowledge the ongoing work of humanitarian staff around the world. We asked Rezaul Chowdhury, a member of our leadership council about some of the challenges that Humanitarians in Bangladesh face.
NEAR: What are some of the current challenges facing humanitarian workers in Bangladesh?
In Bangladesh the current challenges for humanitarian workers are mostly; funding to keep staff/job especially in local organizations and funding to immediately respond to humanitarian crisis. Maybe you know due to increase nature of climate change impact, there are increased nature frequencies of cyclones and floods, these we call as rapid on set disasters. But they are slow on set disasters like small cyclones, incessant rain, dry and hot days, foggy weather etcwhich are very common instances.
NEAR: What are the current challenges in retaining human resource capacity for local organizations in Bangladesh?
Main challenge in respect of capacity building of humanitarian staff especially lying with local or national organizations who are infact the first responders along with community. Basically it is lack of funding, even intermediaries in humanitarian project hardly provide funding for training and institutional development like funding support to local NGOs. Most of the projects and funding to local humanitarian organizations are mostly operational or a small percentage of the total money, which make them mere sub-contractors. Although there are new emerging paradigm shift ie, staff have to be trained on Humanitarianism from the holistic approach, not only imparting training on disaster management, it is a matter of reviving the very philosophy of humanitarianism and also with relevant legal issues.
NEAR: What could be done to ensure retention of capacity and development of humanitarian workers in Bangladesh?
To ensure retention of capacity and development of humanitarian workers in Bangladesh, donors and INGOs have to give institutional development costs and also need to consider minimizing the gap in salary structures between local NGOs and INGOs, there should be equal levels of salary for equal levels of competencies at least, moreover we have to consider who is taking the most risk and who is taking most accountability, accordingly salary and facilities have to to compensated, in fact this is a universal mother principle to set salary and facilities, in respect of aid architecture no one hardly gives care on these principles.
NEAR: What kind of resources will be required to address Q3?
To meet the above question, the INGOs and donors have to consider not only more resources to local NGOs but also consider what isthe sustainability in respect of sustainable humanitarian response, it is the compact of local NGOs, community and local government, not anyone else. The problem is that present aid architecture has shaped fully to the opposite of that, thus in fact, exploitative in nature.
NEAR: Moving forward, what role might localization play in addressing some of the challenges of present day humanitarian assistance?
INGOs, donors and local NGOs must come up with dialogue and positive engagement on how to work together for localization, sustainable humanitarian capcity building and and with mutual accountability.