Philanthropy: An adaptable and nuanced approach to humanitarian aid

Jun 27,2019 – JORDAN TIMES –
Arnub Farooqi

While the work done in the humanitarian field is doubtlessly valuable, how they do this work is equally important.

Locally-led humanitarian responses remain a challenge in the Middle East, due in large part to limited investment from the private sector into this area. These responses are further complicated by the impediments to obtaining governmental approval for such initiatives.
Local actors play an important role in meeting the needs of those affected by crises as they ensure the sustainability of humanitarian interventions. Because local actors remain in-country after a crisis ends, supporting their involvement contributes to the overall sustainability of aid, demonstrating the necessity of a localisation approach within the humanitarian sector.

Simply put, localisation is an attempt to share power and resources with local and national organisations, equipping them with the capacity to more effectively and sustainably deliver aid.

Philanthropic support has demonstrated it can provide innovative solutions to humanitarian and development challenges while remaining flexible, fast and financially able to cover areas not traditionally supported by institutional funding.Due to their willingness to take greater risks, philanthropies are often leading drivers of innovation in the sector. They can support local actors to build their resilience and ability to respond while simultaneously supporting local initiatives to be more sustainable and proactive by investing in their capacity building and knowledge sharing, as they offer a different expertise and background than humanitarian actors.

Furthermore, philanthropic support enables a more sustainable recovery after a crisis and more efficient long-term planning for investment and development because local organisations have better resources and a greater capacity to respond to future needs, thus enabling a more sustainable and immediate response to a crisis.

Philanthropy’s value extends into the private sector, as well.Advocating for peace and security, gender issues, and linking efforts to stopping terrorism and radicalisation can lead to greater security, providing an improved environment in which to conduct business. Moreover, strategic partnerships with NGOs can contribute to the private sector’s corporate social responsibility and create opportunities to shape public perception of their corporation while simultaneously connecting the corporation with the potential for new growth markets.

At ARDD, a civil society organisation based in Jordan, we advocate for the localisation of development, humanitarian, and emergency relief efforts through our programmes, outreach and partnerships with organisations like ICVA, whose recent annual conference has demonstrated their commitment to the localisation of aid. ICVA sought to examine the commitments made by organisations during the World Humanitarian Summit.

The Grand Bargain, the New York Declarations and the Global Compacts on Refugees and Migration and how these commitments can be translated into action through analysis and exploration of organisational and country-specific experiences of the change needed. This includes reviewing the forms of support NGOs require and facilitating discussions on how NGOs can have increased opportunities to contribute to and influence policy changes and practices on a global scale. Amongst other topics, the role of philanthropy stood out as a valuable, but underutilised tool that can be used to better support the locally-led humanitarian response.

In Syria, for example, many humanitarian activities were sponsored by philanthropists during the first two years of conflict, encouraging and empowering local actors to respond to the crisis. The solidarity demonstrated during this time was grounded in faith, nationalism, sect and location. Those who received financial support were able to use this funding to establish small associations to continue their work, after which they could apply for institutional funding, enabling them to reach a wider scope of people. By supporting the locally-led humanitarian response, philanthropies encouraged local actors to respond and provide immediate aid through their already existing knowledge of the complex context.

Philanthropy is an often overlooked yet incredibly nuanced and adaptable asset to furthering the work done in the humanitarian field and beyond. By embracing it and using it to the advantage of those we seek to engage, we can both broaden and deepen our impact, overcoming the bureaucratic and governmental hurdles that often distract and detract from our ultimate mission.

Arnub Farooqi is a coordination officer at ARDD. Originally from the US, she moved to Jordan to conduct research on topics related to migration, gender and protection.


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