[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] There needs to be a greater involvement of local and national organisations in policy and decision making process if the world’s humanitarian response is to move from “delivering aid” to “ending need” – that was the message of ACT Alliance general secretary John Nduna to the World Humanitarian Summit today in Istanbul, Turkey.
The ACT Alliance brings together 140 church and faith based organisations working in humanitarian, development and advocacy work. Its members include the Anglican Church of Kenya, Australia’s Anglican Overseas Aid, the Church of Uganda, the Canadian Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, the Synodical Board of Social Services of the Church of North India, and the Anglican Church of Burundi; as well as ecumenical aid agencies, such as Christian Aid
The World Humanitarian Summit, organised by the UN, got underway today in Istanbul as “a call to action to unite around our shared humanity,” the UN said.
“The aims of the summit are to reaffirm our shared commitment to humanity and the universality of humanitarian principles; generate greater global leadership and political will to end conflict, alleviate suffering and reduce risk; and agree on a set of concrete actions and commitments to able us to better prepare for and respond to crises,” they said.
At a High Level Leaders Round Table this morning, Mr Nduna argued that faith based organisations were rooted in local areas and are best place to deliver long term sustainable assistance to the communities that they are part of.
“As an alliance committed to the accompaniment of local and national actors, more than 70 per cent of our membership are local and national responders rooted in communities before, during, and after crises,” Nduna said. “We are part of the communities we seek to assist, and are emboldened to see commitments which aspire to reinforce local systems, increase genuine community engagement, and enhance complementarity among local, national and international responders.”
The ACT Alliance’s 140 churches and faith-based organisations are working in more than 100 countries; and respond to around 25 emergency situations around the world each year, including the 2015 Nepal earthquake and the ongoing drought in Ethiopia, providing lifesaving relief to populations in crisis.
As part of the alliance’s contributions to furthering the Agenda for Humanity, it has committed to revising and reforming its humanitarian response mechanisms in line with the direction set out in the UN secretary general’s Agenda for Humanity, and to supporting the empowerment of people impacted by emergencies in addressing their self-determined needs.
“We aim to strengthen local capacities by reforming our ACT Rapid Response Fund so that it is targeted exclusively for national and local members because we believe the empowerment of local actors, who are often first responders, must include efforts to improve local and national NGOs’ access to funding opportunities,” Nduna said. “We will incentivise greater investment in emergency preparedness, disaster risk reduction and resilience. We will work with communities to prepare for crises and not just react.”
It is a message that participants are spreading on social media. “When NGO’s leave faith communities remain,” Anglican Inter Faith Network member the Revd Bonnie Evans-Hill Tweeted.
The World Humanitarian Summit is bringing together more than 5,000 participants, including around 65 heads of states and governments as well as representatives of crisis-affected communities, private sector organisations, international and national NGOs, youth representatives, civil society, diaspora, civil-military, academia. Faith communities are also represented.
The summit’s conclusions are non-binding on UN member states, and Christian Aid’s chief executive Loretta Minghella told BBC News that actions speak louder than words. “Words are not enough to solve the escalating needs of people whose lives are blighted by crisis,” she said. “The success of the summit will depend on how energetically we collectively deliver against the promises that we are all launching.”
Amongst those present at the meeting are Anglican Alliance trustee the Revd Canon Grace Kaiso, general secretary of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa; the Revd Canon Dr Flora Winfield, the Anglican Communion’s representative to the United Nations; the Most Revd Albert Chama, Archbishop of Central Africa; and the World Council of Churches’ general secretary, the Revd Dr Olav Fykse Tveit.