Take Humanitarian Action for Those in Greatest Need
Baptist World Aid’s local Partner in Nepal supported Kamta and his wife to grow a rope-making business that provides a steady income for their family. Photo: Baptist World Aid
Australia has a proud history of supporting people affected by crises. It has been a champion for the rights of women and girls, led the charge on disability inclusion, and been a steadfast supporter of disaster affected countries around the world. But as the global humanitarian landscape shifts, Australia must realign its strategy to ensure it continues to reach the people in greatest need. Humanitarian crises are today driven overwhelmingly by conflict and violence, and the persistent gap between needs and funding demands all governments increase their support to better respond to the most pressing global challenges.
The ACFID Humanitarian Reference Group (HRG) is the independent voice of humanitarian agencies in Australia that conducts policy and advocacy work to address the above issues. The HRG is made up of ACFID’s members with significant operational involvement in humanitarian response, who have the capacity to contribute to the activities of the HRG It provides a mechanism for ACFID members working in international humanitarian assistance to share information, strengthen coordination, advocate to strengthen humanitarian response and engage in policy dialogue with DFAT. HRG members work across a range of areas including protracted crises, disaster risk reduction, humanitarian effectiveness, civil-military engagement, and protection.
ACFID and its HRG members have three primary goals:
1. To alleviate humanitarian suffering based on need
Between 2015 and 2021 a further 235.4 million people globally became in need of humanitarian assistance – with a worrying increase of 40 per cent in the past 12 months alone. In 2021, highest humanitarian needs remain in the Middle East and Africa. The 2017 White Paper highlights the importance of these regions to Australia’s conflict prevention and humanitarian objectives.
2. To address the underlying root causes of conflict and disaster
Globally, more than 90 per cent of humanitarian funding is allocated to response, with less than 1% to anticipation, 3.8% to preparedness, and 5.5% to recovery and reconstruction despite being more cost-effective. Anticipatory action requires humanitarian financing to be more flexible, coordinated and predictable.
3. To ensure that humanitarian action is effective and inclusive
To be most effective, Australia’s humanitarian support must champion the rights of minority and marginalised groups. Humanitarian crises disproportionately affect women and girls, people with disabilities, and marginalised groups, including those experiencing discrimination based on age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or ethnicity.
Another way of improving the quality and efficacy of Australia’s humanitarian assistance is to make it more locally led. The purpose of localisation is to ensure that existing power imbalances within the humanitarian system are not compounded and perpetuated at times of crisis or disaster. Communities affected by conflict and disaster should be the ones to direct how assistance is used for their own recovery.
A growing body of evidence also demonstrates the broad benefits of multi-year approaches to protracted or recurrent crises. These programs build community resilience to protracted or recurrent crises, and when delivered with flexible funding, are highly efficient and effective. The efficiency gains of multi-year approaches also ensure that partners, both national and international, can maintain their responsive capacity and quickly scale up to deliver life-saving assistance in the event of a conflict spike, or recurrent drought.