Signatories of the Grand Bargain, the pact signed two years ago at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, meet in New York today to make progress on improving the humanitarian system.
Christian Aid was in attendance to co-present a joint analysis by members of the Charter for Change network: CAFOD, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Christian Aid, NEAR and OXFAM, on the need for more radical measures to empower national and local actors - who have a closer and deeper understanding of communities in need - to take a leadership role in humanitarian response
Nick Guttmann, Christian Aid’s Head of Humanitarian Division, said that while some progress had been made since 2016 there was still much to be done to strengthen the humanitarian system.
He said: “It’s great that that the Governments of Denmark, Belgium and Slovenia are requiring their aid agency funding partners to demonstrate the progress they are making on the Grand Bargain localisation commitments as a condition for continued funding.
“But it’s vital that more humanitarian funding is channelled to local and national responders, who are always the first on the scene when disaster strikes. Signatories to the Grand Bargain pledged to deliver 25% of humanitarian assistance to local agencies by 2020 but that figure was still only 3% last year. If promises at these meetings are to be taken seriously then much more needs to be done to accelerate the localisation of humanitarian aid.”
In his intervention at the Grand Bargain meeting, Guttmann gave particular emphasis to the need for humanitarian agencies to listen to and empower people affected by crisis.
He said: “The Grand Bargain commits to a participation revolution whereby aid agencies should pay much more attention to listening to what people affected by crisis actually want, and give them a stronger role in their own response and recovery. But a recent report by Christian Aid and our Bangladeshi partner Gana Unnayan Kendra about the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh, shows that we still have a long way to go to ensure adequate participation and accountability. Agencies must engage with affected populations to see their priorities and not impose our own.”