The humanitarian system seen from the money side

Today I’ve participated in the second diaglogue meeting on Future Humanitarian Financing, an initiative on behalf of the Inter-Agency Standing Commitee .


World Vision, NRC, MSF, DFID, UNDP, and many others were precent, in addition to pure funding institutions and banks interested in the issue of funding humanitarian relief. The increas in emergency, together with the grim prospects of half the world population living in areas with scarce water and food resources by 2050, show that the need for humanitairan intervention cannot be met with the current funding model.

During the meeting, groups were divided into different business model and funding goals.

Issues that were brought up, were :

– how humanitarian sector can improve their relationship with ‘others’ such as private enterprise, and to discuss what profit is acceptable

– whether one should think of humanitarian system as something else than a system, suggestions made were ‘humanitarian networks’ or simply contextualized processes that don’t have to be a global perspective.

– how short term relief and development can be bridged in a manner that Climate funding institutions will be happy with, so that humanitarian relief can also benefit from climate funding mechanisms such as the GEF.

– anther suggestion was how humanitarian relief agencies wish to do ‘pure relief’ and are annoyed by the tasks that national counterparts add, such as infrastructure wishes etc. that they want humanitarian relief to fund (this was an example from Jordan). Host countries that host a large number of refugees expect to benefit some from their efforts, while humanitarian sector sees this as interrupting their life saving efforts. This example does however show that my input on a model for better coordination between country development goals and humanitairan relief goals is a relevant one.

One thing that was lacking, was discussion on the use of bottom-up financing mechanisms. I understood the meeting as a discussion on how humanitarian relief can get more money and spend it on a global  level, while smaller community and contextualized counterparts should have been included. This  first dialoge however is according the organizers, a first step of understanding humanitarian funding challenges and ideas for what the different institutions are looking for in a ‘new model’ of humanitarian financing.


About Brita Fladvad Nielsen

I'm a Postdoctoral researcher at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. My focus is on Smart Energy Communities in urban settings as well as design of energy-devices for emergency settings and design for humanitarian markets, especially for refugee camps in rural areas of Africa. I blog about my research approach Design Thinking on and about humanitarian design at . I am also a mother of a child who is deaf, and I blog about her language development on
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