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Localise global disaster response, Christian Aid urges World Humanitarian Summit

20 May 2016

  • International community should use local knowledge in emergency response

  • With a humanitarian crisis on its doorstep Turkey is a fitting location to host the world’s first Humanitarian Summit (Monday, May 23-24)

  • Christian Aid putting its money where its mouth is and promising 10% of future funding appeals will be spent on disaster risk reduction

As nations meet in Istanbul, Turkey, on Monday to discuss how to improve the global humanitarian system, Christian Aid is urging countries to put more power into the hands of local organisations often on the front line of any emergency response.

An unprecedented number of global humanitarian disasters, from the Syrian conflict and European refugee crisis and the Ebola epidemic, has left the humanitarian system creaking, spurring UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to call the meeting.

Michael Mosselmans, Head of Humanitarian Policy at Christian Aid, said that giving more money to local organisations is key: “Local people are often the first responders to any crisis: they have the best understanding of what their communities need so we should equip them with the resources they require,” he said.

“Too often western donors, whether they’re governments or NGOs, hold all the cards and are reluctant to make use of the local skills and knowledge available on the ground. To start shifting the money to where it needs to go, we are calling for 20% of global humanitarian funding to go directly to local responders by 2018.

“As an organisation that works through local partner organisations we know first-hand how effective this approach can be.”
Although Istanbul was not at the centre of the European refugee crisis when the summit was announced, it has become a fitting location.

Mr Mosselmans said: “It is ironic that the global meeting to discuss humanitarian crises will take place in a country at the centre of one of the biggest of our times. The summit didn’t go to the crisis, but the crisis came to the summit.”

A key ask of Christian Aid at the summit will be greater investment in reducing the risk of future disasters. In a report launched on Monday, Act Now or Pay Later, the charity pointed out that investment to prepare communities before a crisis was value for money.

Mr Mosselmans, who will be attending the summit, said: “Every dollar spent on disaster risk reduction saves more than four dollars later, sometimes much more. It’s vital that more money is spent in this crucial stage of the humanitarian process. Prevention is better than cure.

“At the summit Christian Aid is putting its money where its mouth is and pledging that 10% of money raised for each major humanitarian appeal will be invested in disaster risk reduction.”

The role of faith leaders is another often overlooked element of humanitarian response that Christian Aid will pushing governments to include.

Mr Mosselmans said: “The vast majority of people affected by disasters are people of faith. Religious leaders and institutions play an active role in both responding to immediate need and helping with the long-term recovery.

“Often faith groups have the most cultural trust and influence to change harmful behaviour in local communities. In Sierra Leone during the Ebola epidemic, it was Muslim and Christian leaders who helped to promote safe practices, care for those affected and prevent the disease from spreading further.”

Loretta Minghella, Christian Aid’s Chief Executive, will announce Christian Aid’s own 11 World Humanitarian Summit commitments in Istanbul. They will centre around localisation, resilience and accountability. In her intervention, she will call for robust action to back up the rhetoric that organisations are bringing to the table in Turkey.

She said: “Words are not enough to solve the escalating needs of people whose lives are blighted by crisis. The success of the summit will depend on how energetically we collectively deliver against the promises that we are all launching.

"It’s vital that when we go home we do our utmost to turn these fine words into real action to change the lives of the world’s most vulnerable people.”


For interview requests with Christian Aid staff attending the summit, or for more information, contact jware@christian-aid.org. The 24-hour Christian Aid press duty phone is 07850 242950.

For more information about Christian Aid’s policy asks at the summit, see the report on Making the World Humanitarian Summit Worth the Climb.

For more information about the role of faith leaders during the Ebola crisis, see Christian Aid’s report Keeping The Faith.    

Notes to editors:

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 40 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.

2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change explains how we set about this task.

3. Christian Aid is a member of ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development. 

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid, visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk

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