The New Humanitarian Annual Report 2021

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IRIN to increase reporting on locally driven humanitarian responses

IRIN is enhancing our coverage of indigenous and locally driven responses to humanitarian emergencies and disasters, an effort made possible with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

In 2016, at the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit, governments, UN agencies and NGOs made ambitious pledges to reform the way aid is delivered. Part of this shift aims to better support and empower local communities to lead responses to crises in their own communities — often called “localisation” in the aid sector. But these commitments have largely stalled, almost two years after major donors and UN agencies promised to deliver on a wider “Grand Bargain” of reforms.

To help inform this debate, IRIN’s reporting will examine examples of local responses to crises around the world – in conflict zones, refugee camps, scenes of natural disasters and more.

“In the wake of a crisis, attention often turns to the international aid agencies sending their teams in to help. But friends, family, neighbours and community organisations are often the first responders,” said IRIN Director Heba Aly. “Local people know best what they need; can respond faster and more efficiently; and may offer more sustainable, long-term solutions. This reporting seeks to highlight examples of self-reliance, from the Zimbabwean women battling climate change to traditional approaches to cyclone proofing in Vanuatu; from local volunteers helping refugees in Greece to the white helmets in Syria. We want to better understand how local communities respond in a crisis and what lessons the international community can draw from them.” 

In addition to new reporting from the frontlines of crises, the Gates Foundation funding will support three case studies produced by the Center for Public Service Communications, exploring indigenous solutions and knowledge that have led to successful disaster preparedness, prevention and responses to risks and threats.

This reporting will support IRIN’s mission to inform humanitarian response, by cutting through the increasingly caustic “localisation” debate and examining ways in which local communities are already tackling crises on the ground.

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