Effective Humanitarian Assistance

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A panel about the future of humanitarian affairs was convened to discuss methods and strategies towards achieving greater inclusiveness, coordination, interoperability, and effectiveness in humanitarian aid. H.E. Mr. Dabbashi underlined the importance of the dialogue, commenting on how increased humanitarian threats are dangerously stretching the finite number of humanitarian resources available.

Ms. Pizon focused on the importance of local leaders in disaster intervention. If coordination mechanisms work on both an international and local level, a damaged community can be much more resilient. Ms. Georgieva emphasized the different aspects of operational effectiveness, such as the swift deployment of capacities, the coordination of a joint-assessment strategy, and the cohesive interoperability of all sectors. But Ms. Georgieva also stated that this operational effectiveness can only take us so far. Efficient and productive policies, such as those developed for food assistance, are the difference between helping and further damaging a disaster stricken community. While pumping free food and crops into a disaster area may meet short term needs, it kills the local markets, weakening the society’s capacity to be self-sufficient in the future.

Dr. Sani-Sidi continued the conversation by championing Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). NEMA’s departments are categorized into areas for both risk reduction and emergency response, which work in tandem to ensure long term capacity building and prompt response in times of crisis. To close the panel, Mr. Fisher brought attention to the importance of understanding the context of ‘at risk’ countries. As an international community, it is crucial to understand not only the capacities of the country of concern, but also the government situation, the strengths and weaknesses of their institutions, the rule of law, the fiscal management, and all of the other developmental issues that can exacerbate or mitigate the emergency. The effectiveness of response mechanisms is directly dependent on understanding the state of the country, as different situations are more conducive to different methods of humanitarian aid. 

Meeting Title: Panel discussion on “Effective humanitarian assistance”
Speakers: Chair H.E. Mr. Ibrahim O. Dabbashi (Libya), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council; Moderator Ms. Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator; Ms. Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response; Dr. Muhammad Sani-Sidi, Director-General, National Emergency Management Agency, Nigeria; Mr. H. Halil Afsarata, Head of the Strategy Development Department at the Prime Ministry, Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD), Turkey; Mr. Nigel Fisher, United Nations Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria; Ms. Inday Pizon, Executive Director, Regional Development Incorporated, National Coalition of Rural Women/PKKK, Philippines; Ms. Barbette Badocdoc, Media and Networking Officer, Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Lawyering Services (IDEALS), Philippines
Location: ECOSOC Chamber, United Nations, New York 
Date: 24 June 2014
Written By WIT Representative: Zachary Halliday
Edited by WIT Representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

Nutrition as an Input and an Outcome of Resilience

The concept of resilience and its practical application in food security and nutrition, both in policy formation and implementation, has recently become a topical issue among humanitarian development communities.

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Today at the United Nations, a panel discussion on nutrition aimed to propose approaches and develop a concrete action plan that can be taken to strengthen resilience towards the root causes of malnutrition. Building upon the discussion and conclusions from the IFPRI 2020 conference held in Addis Ababa, the event aimed to provide insights for the preparation of the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) and the post-2015 developmental agenda. 

Chairperson, Sandra Aviles opened the discussion by highlighting the importance of understanding the term resilience not as jargon, but as a term that is practically defined as a tangible indicator that can help communities bridge the gap between short term goals and long term developmental agendas.

Mrs. Florika focused her address on locating target communities that are most vulnerable to malnutrition. She stated that, “children below the age of five and pregnant and lactating women were among those that are the most severe targets of hunger needs”. In response, ECHO and OCHA are developing a system to index risk factors, develop key indicators, and resilience markers and identify best practices to provide humanitarian assistance to these communities with maximum output. Mrs. Dolores highlighted natural disasters as another factor that threaten food security. Crises prone regions of developing countries are often ill equipped with coping up with natural disasters, and at times such disasters occur with little time gap which further threatens food security and enhances health risks.

In conclusion, Mrs. Charlotte Dufour, drawing upon a programme conducted with ECHO that addressed the challenge of access to land as an underlying causes of malnutrition, highlighted some of the practical problems that schemes faced when tested on ground. She posited that institutional silos existed across and within institutions that hinder the establishment of a common language of indicators. Furthermore, while institutions possess technical skills they lack the organizational and planning skills that are required to initiate programmes in countries with fragile governments, weak leadership and high levels of corruption.

 

Meeting Title: “Nutrition as an input and an outcome of resilience”
Speakers: Sandra Aviles; Senior Liason Officer, Programme Development & Humanitarian Affairs, FAO; Mrs. Florika Fink-Hooijer, Director for Strategy, Policy and International Cooperation, ECHO; Mrs. Dolores Rio, Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF; Mrs. Charlotte Dufour, Nutrition Officer, FAO; Mrs. Muriel Calo, Senior Food Security & Livelihood Advisor, Action Against Hunger
Location: United Nations HQ, Conference Room 7 (NLB), New York 
Date: 23 June 2014
Written By WIT Representative: Apurv Gupta
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark