Event | From the Ground Up: Local and indigenous approaches to humanitarian aid and disaster risk reduction

A teacher stands in front of students sitting on the floor, actively engaged. Alphabet and learning charts and chalk boards line the wall.
A teacher instructs a class of Rohingya students at a makeshift school run by CODEC, a local NGO, in Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh. (Jason Patinkin/TNH)

On 13 May, The New Humanitarian (formerly IRIN News) and the Graduate Institute’s Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding (CCDP) hosted a discussion on local and indigenous approaches to humanitarian aid and disaster risk reduction.

Thousands of people gathered in Geneva for the sixth session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction to discuss how the international community can reduce the impact of disasters and build resilience in vulnerable communities around the world. But mainstream disaster management and humanitarian response often overlook the views of the local and Indigenous communities they seek to serve.

In late 2017, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the non-profit newsroom The New Humanitarian set out to hear the stories of local aid workers on the front lines of humanitarian crises around the world – from micro-NGOs in Venezuela to Rohingya activists in refugee camps in Bangladesh. Alongside our reporting, researcher John Scott visited the Māori communities of New Zealand and the Inuit of Nunavut, Canada to see what the international community could learn from indigenous approaches to reducing the risk of disasters.

During this event, we shared our takeaways from our series of stories on locally led humanitarian action and two in-depth case studies on Indigenous knowledge. Catch up with the event recording, and learn about the gender lens of localisation and the disappearance of successful Indigenous risk reduction practices due to colonial influence. You’ll also hear some inspiring stories, from the Ebola response coordinator who stopped the virus in one Congolese village by eating cassava leaves with Mai-Mai rebels, to the community structures – fishermen, women’s networks, political activists – that are building the capacity of remote, often inaccessible communities to prevent and respond to crises.

From the Ground Up: Local and indigenous approaches to humanitarian aid and disaster risk reduction

13 May 2019 | 18:30 – 20:00 CET

Auditorium A1B, Graduate Institute, Maison de la Paix, Geneva

Introductory remarks by Gilles Carbonnier, Professor of Development Economics at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies and Vice President, International Committee of the Red Cross.

The discussion was moderated by Heba Aly, Director, The New Humanitarian, in conversation with:

  • Irwin Loy, Project Editor, The New Humanitarian
  • John Scott, President, Center for Public Service Communications
  • Local organisations building resilience in their own communities – from India to El Salvador

Concluding remarks by Dr. Valerie Nkamgang Bemo, Deputy Director, Global Development, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.


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