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Focus on Local Action - Updates on WHS initiatives

How are we progressing against the World Humanitarian Summit commitments?
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Welcome to the first newsletter of 2018. The Agenda for Humanity called for investment in local capacities and to build on positive local coping strategies and capacities in preparedness, response and recovery. In this edition's Agenda for Humanity in Action we bring snapshots of local action in India. You will also find brief updates from our initiatives. 

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Agenda for Humanity in Action:
Snapshots of local action in India

Humanitarian Aid International

Humanitarian Aid International (HAI) was established in May 2016 and is reaching thousands of people in India affected by natural disasters. The story of HAI shows that, when provided with the right type support and opportunities, local humanitarian action can be scaled up quickly and effectively.

HAI’s CEO Sudhanshu S. Singh, a globally recognised ambassador for empowerment of locally-oriented humanitarian action through initiatives such as the Charter for Change, uses the success of his organisation as a positive example to advocate for:
  • National platforms of local and national NGOs with the purpose of making disaster responses timely and cost efficient;
  • National pooled funds accessible to local and national actors to reduce response time to a disaster, and;
  • National rosters to provide surge capacity to smaller organisations.
HAI has already demonstrated adherence with most of the points of the Charter for Change - an initiative launched at the World Humanitarian Summit. Though not a signatory, HAI is also working on Grand Bargain commitments and commitments made to the Agenda for Humanity. 

Anchalik Gram Unnayan Parishad (AGUP)

Anchalik Gram Unnayan Parishad (AGUP), an Indian NGO founded in 1986, became member of Humanitarian Aid International (HAI) in 2016. Although AGUP has partnered with many international NGOs, it is its association with HAI that allowed it to gain access to global initiatives.

AGUP is based in the flood-prone Assam state. Through its partnership and joint response in 2017 with HAI, new insights, learning and transformational changes were gained. Best practices include early action, inclusive decision making, adherence to highest accountability standards, gender promotion and investment in local capacities.

Prior to the response, AGUP shared the entire budget with its stakeholders and set up a feedback mechanism. Beneficiary representatives were part of the procurement committee and government officials part of the monitoring committee. 

AGUP are encouraged by visibility in local, social and national media and, as a result, is getting new donors and offers of support from government departments and ministries.

AGUP is optimistic that a new humanitarian architecture is being built in India, and takes pride of being part of this endeavor.

The Localisation of Humanitarian Aid - Experience from the Assam Flood Response

Assam, a state in north-eastern India, is no stranger to water-induced disasters. Since its inception in 1985 and with support from national as well as global organisations the North-East Affected Area Development Society (NEADS) has responded to no fewer than 8 humanitarian crises caused by flooding.
With shrinking scope to apply for institutional funding, and in a climate where large global agencies dominate funding and planning discussions, local organisations like NEADS face a real challenge to be able to reach out to the most vulnerable.
In partnership with local and national organisations in India, NEADS are successfully promoting an equitable localization agenda which addresses subcontracting of projects and ensures equality. Seeking a space to tap resources and to create a localized humanitarian architecture, NEADS endorsed the Charter for Change. NEADS believes that as a grassroots humanitarian organization they have the potential to reach affected communities faster, more efficiently and at significantly lower cost than their larger, international counterparts

Updates from the initiatives

Charter for Change

Over the past 2 years this initiative, originally comprised of just 4 organisations, has blossomed into over 30 INGO signatories and 200 (and growing) local endorsers around the world. It is, as the director of one local NGO described, ‘the most effective and meaningful localisation initiative in the world’.

2018 is a watershed year for Charter for Change. Recognising that achieving the commitments set out will take longer than anticipated, Charter for Change is now looking towards the future.

Already an excellent conduit for local actors to influence global policy, Charter for Change will increase its focus on action at the national level; evidencing the impact of the initiative and bridging the gap between what localisation means for INGOs at headquarter level, and in practice on the ground.
While not without its challenges, particularly around how each organisation defines what ‘change’ looks like in their own context, the Charter has already raised awareness and understanding of real, meaningful localisation, beyond what many members originally envisaged.

Global Preparedness Partnership

The Global Preparedness Partnership (GPP) is officially operational! All twenty-five countries that applied for GPP support were considered successful and at the GPP Operational Subcommittee meeting, held on the 9th of February during the Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week (HNPW), the World Bank announced that they would support at least six countries to implement their diagnostic reviews in order to “kick start” the GPP process. These countries are Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Guatemala, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Four additional countries are still being considered for support; Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Palestine and Tunisia.
Some governments and other stakeholders in the six countries have already met to examine the scope of the diagnostic reviews. Other countries have organised meetings among the GPP focal points in Finance, Disaster or other relevant Ministries along with GPP core partner organisations to discuss other possible avenues for funding the diagnostic reviews. The GPP secretariat continues to support these processes at the global level.

Diaspora Emergency Action and Coordination (DEMAC)

Following the World Humanitarian Summit, 41 Diaspora organisations signed up to 17 commitments responding to the five core responsibilities of the Agenda for Humanity.

In March DEMAC will publish its recent study “Adding value? Creating opportunities: Diasporas in humanitarian settings”. The report will provide an insight into the added value of diaspora organisations in humanitarian response, and will contribute to identifying missing links between actors of the international humanitarian system and diaspora groups in Somalia, Syria and Nigeria.

DEMAC E-Learning & Training
DEMAC has been working closely with humanitarian Diaspora organisations to develop an online training curriculum for the Kaya platform. The e-learning programme contains topics ranging from humanitarian principles, organizational structure, to monitoring and evaluation and will be tested by fifteen diaspora organizations on 21-22 April in Berlin.

Micro-Mentoring Initiative
DEMAC is launching a Micro-Mentoring Initiative to provide long-distance learning and support opportunities to local organizations in selected countries (e.g. Syria, Somalia, Nigeria) through matching them with mentors from the diaspora community in Europe. If you are interested to contribute to this micro-mentoring initiative, please send an email to:

Global Alliance for Urban Crises

The Global Alliance for Urban Crises aims to adapt humanitarian response to an urban world, recognizing the trend of rapid urbanization and the need for the humanitarian system to respond accordingly. The Global Alliance for Urban Crises was launched during a Special Session at the World Humanitarian Summit on 24 May, 2016.

The Alliance was represented during the Ninth Session of World Urban Forum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (8-13 February 2018) by nearly 70 representatives from the Alliance membership, who organized 25 events. The forum’s outcome document, the Kuala Lumpur Declaration states urban crises as an emerging challenge requiring urgent action. During the forum, the World Bank and the Huairou Commission announced membership and the Alliance also recently welcomed the International Organization for Migration.

Humanitarian Data Centre

The Agenda for Humanity called for making data and analysis the basis and driver for investment and decision making to ensure preparedness and humanitarian action is informed by the greatest risks and the needs of the most vulnerable. The Secretary-General and the Emergency Relief Coordinator officiated the launch event of the Centre on 22 December 2017 in The Hague Humanity Hub. The idea of the Centre emerged at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016 and aims to increase use and impact of data in humanitarian crises by offering a number of services. These include processing and visualizing data, developing and promoting data policies and offering training in data skills. If your organization needs support with data, contact the Centre at

Connecting People and Data to Improve Lives,’ a short introductory film, provides examples of support from the Centre. You can also watch a recording of the opening event here and you can read more about the Centre’s services in this handout, which will soon be available in French and Spanish at

Platform on Disaster Displacement

The Agenda for Humanity called upon stakeholders to reduce and address displacement, including to better prepare for cross-border displacement in the context of disasters and adverse effects of climate change. The Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD), launched at the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 works across migration, refugee, humanitarian assistance and protection, development, human rights and other policy areas. Its main goal is to support the implementation of the Nansen Initiative Protection Agenda.
A Guide to Effective Practices for Regional Conference on Migration Member Countries in protecting people moving across borders in disaster contexts was developed last year. Training and capacity building in several regions, including a cross-border simulation exercise also took place with more information available on the PDD website’s News and Events section.
In 2018, Bangladesh assumed Chairmanship and France the Vice-Chairmanship. The main focus this year will be to ensure that protection needs of disaster displaced persons are included and addressed in the Global Compacts for Migration and Refugees. For more information also read our key messages.

Charter for Faith-based Humanitarian Action

The Agenda for Humanity called for global leadership to prevent and end conflicts, and encouraged developing solutions with and for people, including the promotion of faith-based dialogue. The Charter for Faith-based Humanitarian Action was endorsed at the World Humanitarian Summit by more than 160 faith-based actors, representing all major faith traditions and different geographical regions.

The UN task force was one of the key partners that spearheaded the development of the Charter in the lead up to the Summit and its own mandate reflects the commitments embodied in the Charter. Since the launch of Agenda 2030, the UN Inter agency Task Force on Religion and Development has supported and documented the work of several UN entities in order to capture learning from partnerships with faith-based actors and to scale up a range of initiatives.

In 2017 two critical advocacy initiatives were undertaken with a range of faith based actors around normative human rights work, which feeds largely into the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 on Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, but also intersects with others. These initiatives include the launch of a “Plan of Action for Religious Leaders and Actors to Prevent Incitement to Violence that Could Lead to Atrocity Crimes” - spearheaded by the UN Office of the Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect; as well as the Faith for Rights Initiative stewarded by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

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