NEAR Network Wants to Transform Global Aid
New local-focused network launches ahead of World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul
Reorienting the aid system – that’s the ambitious aim of the new Network for Empowered Aid Response (NEAR), which launches on May 22nd, just before the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul.
NEAR is a network of local and national NGOs who have come together in an attempt to restructure the global response to economic, human and environmental threats. Their focus is on empowering local communities, and building fair and inclusive partnerships.
So far, 30 African organizations, 21 from Asia and 5 from Middle East have committed to join the network.
It’s clear that local people and organizations are often the fastest to react in a crisis – their local knowledge and ingenuity can save lives in an emergency, or find effective solutions to longer-term challenges. But local voices are often not given the attention they deserve in these situations – large international organizations often take priority over smaller local groups.
Degan Ali, Executive Director of Adeso, which has been working on the creation of NEAR since 2014, says: “After many months of consultations with local organizations and regional networks across the world, we are excited to finally launch. We hope NEAR will provide the much-needed platform to strengthen the collective voice of those working directly with local communities.”
Closing the gap between aid and people
While it’s true there’s been an increase in resources for humanitarian and development aid, the need is growing too – the number of affected populations doubled in the past decade. And crucially, the amount of resources actually reaching people in need is going down.
NEAR aims to close this widening gap by putting people at the centre of delivery, and strengthening local organizations and communities – making sure the system works for the people in whose name money is raised.
All the countries and communities consulted have echoed the problems of financing, capacity and the shrinking space for civil society. As NEAR’s Executive Director Smruti Patel explains: “The response to challenges is very dependent on how resilient the community is, and how well prepared the government and local organizations are.”
According to Hari Darshan Shrestha, Executive Director of Centre of Resilient Development from Nepal—a member of NEAR, a lot of the organisations especially from Africa, Asia, Middle East and Latin America share similar challenges. “We can work together on these issues, share our experiences, lessons, and with combined efforts, find some solutions to these challenges”
To help improve the capacity and preparedness of local communities, NEAR will focus on four main areas of work: advocacy, financing, organizational development and research.
It’s not just about cash, it’s about empowerment
Rezaul Karim Chowodhury, Executive Director of COAST Bangladesh, and a member of the NEAR Leadership Council, believes that the new network addresses problems that other networks have not paid attention to. “We want NEAR to be an inclusive network – one that promotes equitable, dignified and accountable partnership in the humanitarian and development world,” he says.
Though funding is vital, NEAR is not simply about getting more money from the current broken system – it’s about changing the system.
Adeso’s Degan Ali admits NEAR does not have all the answers – but, she says, “What we have is proximity and intimate understanding of our communities, along with local credibility and trust. We’re creating an environment that enables innovation and great ideas.”
All the members of the NEAR network are united by a vision of a future where local communities are empowered as agents of change, with the capacity to effectively address the challenges that impact their own communities. Local people solving local problems.
That’s a vision well worth pursuing.
On behalf of NEAR’s Leadership Council
Degan Ali – Adeso (Kenya)
Sema Genel (Support to Life)
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury - COAST (Bangladesh)
Manu Gupta – SEEDS (India)
Amjad Mohamed-Saleem –Independent (Sri Lanka)
Filbert Leone – HDC (South Sudan)
Scholastica Nasinyama – Interaid (Uganda)
NEAR will be launched on Sunday, 22nd 2016 at the Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus from 2.00 p.m to 5.30 p.m. After the launch, the network will hold a press conference at the same venue at 4.30 p.m.
For interviews, please contact the following focal points:
Smruti Patel: firstname.lastname@example.org
Degan Ali: email@example.com
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sema Genel: email@example.com