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Report backs local disaster response

03 April 2012

by a staff reporter

SUPPORTING local rather than international organisations is the best way to reduce the suffering caused by catastrophes such as earthquakes and floods, a Christian Aid report has said.

Building the Future of Human­itarian Aid: Local capacity and partnerships in emergency assistance says that more people would recover more quickly from emergencies if international agencies boosted local organisations’ attempt to respond rather than trying to do it themselves. This would mean shifting money away from international charities and the UN towards local agencies.

The humanitarian policy adviser at Christian Aid, Katherine Nightingale, who wrote the report, said: “This absolutely isn’t a call for the inter­national organisations to abandon their efforts, but it is encouraging them to get better at working in genuine partnership with poor countries’ local and national organ­isations and governments, with all the shifts of power and resources that implies.

“One of the best ways to reduce suffering and devastation caused by disasters in poor countries is to strengthen local people’s ability to prevent them in the first place — and respond quickly if the worst does happen.”

The report says that after the Haiti earthquake in 2010, the UN was criticised for excluding local organ­isations in favour of global NGOs. Christian Aid is calling on the UN to review its disaster prevention and response.

One of its proposals is that the UN should fund emergency aid work only if there is a local-government or other organisation playing a leading part. Another is that international aid organisations should not get involved in emergency response in countries where they have no previous experi­ence.

The report is available in full at:

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