Call for a humanitarian revolution

A confluence of factors has pushed humanitarian needs to a level surpassing what was seen at the end of World War II, but aid experts assert in a just-released report that the tools and know-how exist to meet the challenge.

The authors of the report point to opportunities to apply some of the same innovations that allowed for impressive global development gains since 2000:

  • Greater involvement of local actors in meeting their own needs.
  • Private-sector participation.
  • Emphasizing crisis prevention where before crisis response sufficed.
  • Steady streams of funding.

Such steps, the report’s authors say, can and must be used to build a humanitarian assistance system for the 21st century.

“We’re not saying the current humanitarian system is broken, but what we are saying is that we need to adapt it to make it work better to meet today’s needs,” says Rick Leach, president and CEO of World Food Program USA, one of seven humanitarian relief organizations that together authored the new report, A World at Risk. “And we’ve learned some important lessons that can be applied to deliver a more effective system for this new situation.”

What won’t work is sticking with the old pattern of begging the world’s wealthy to open their hearts and wallets at periodic crisis-specific donors’ conferences, and then sending in outside experts to try to make things better.

[Christian Science Monitor]

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