The humanitarian system is facing increasing demand to reform its approach to crisis response. The demands are for the system to become more flexible and transparent in order to better meet needs, utilize resources more efficiently as well as improve local capacity. But, why now?

Our world is changing rapidly and there is an increasing demand to solve new problems in an ever-changing world of ongoing conflict. As a result, UN’s Secretary-General has initiated the World Humanitarian Summit to be held in Istanbul on May 23-24, 2016, where he seeks to challenge the ways humanitarian organizations work together to deliver aid and save lives.

In 2014, $23 billion was spent on crisis response. Yet, the international emergency aid system is still failing vulnerable regions such as Syria and Ukraine.

IRIN, an independent, nonprofit news organization, suggested various ways UN humanitarianism could change to Ertharin Cousin, head of the World Food Programme (WFP), and Kyung-wha Kang, Assistant Secretary-General of the UN’s humanitarian coordination body, OCHA.

Among the many ideas for reform is localizing the humanitarian response system. This not only involves having the local communities making crisis response decisions, but also changing the humanitarian funding methods. Currently, larger organizations such as OCHA and WFP receive the vast majority of the funding, while local organizations receive little funding.

Another important reform proposal, is making the top jobs available to everyone, not just permanent members of the Security Council. This is something the UN has been heavily criticized for.

Having only people on the inside of the organization and not bringing an outside perspective is definitely not conducive to change. It’s also not conducive to avoiding politicisation, one of the many causes of humanitarian problems.

Despite all of these ideas, the question still remains – is reform the answer to a more efficacious humanitarian response system or should we get rid of the system all together?

Paula Acevedo

Sources: IRIN News, World Humanitarian Summit
Photo: Flickr