Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Actors in Humanitarian Aid: UN & Co

by Werner Clödy

These days are affected by themes of climate change, globalization, demographics or violence and unexpected shocks become more and more frequent. For this reason we are exposed to risks and thus we need an appropriate international humanitarian system more than ever, which is able to solve problems like climate change, high food prices, the financial crisis and the HIV/AIDS and flu pandemics as well as issues like rapid urbanization and ageing population.

Confronting these objectives successfully requires a lot of actors, who has to be coordinated as well as possible. Beside national, local and community based organisations, three main categories of humanitarian actors (limited to the formal international system) can be named:

1. The major providers (non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the International Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement)

2. The programme conveners/coordinators (the main role of UN humanitarian agencies and offices)

3. The official donors

This international system has shown considerable growth in recent years: Global stuffing levels have increased significantly as well as the funds contributed by donors directly to international emergency response efforts. Even funding from voluntary sources has ascended in recent years. Especially NGOs highlight the importance of these voluntary sources, which possibly could be increased by “volunteered geographic information”. Consequently there is an overall progress in parts of the humanitarian system, while remaining blemished in some accounts for effectiveness.

Beside this overall progress, there exist several problems concerning the humanitarian relief. In addition to the three main categories of humanitarian actors there are other actors like national militaries and private sector contractors. On the whole there exist endless actors in the humanitarian system. So the discussion is focused on the coordination of these actors.

Maybe Volunteered Geographic Information could help here.

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