Reforming the U.S. Government’s Humanitarian Assistance Efforts
To build on its commitments made in the “Grand Bargain: A Shared Commitment to Better Serve People in Need,” and to provide key input on U.S. government reorganization and reform efforts, InterAction convened a group of member organizations in 2017 to help draft its U.S. Government (USG) Humanitarian Reform Outcomes white paper, which was published and widely distributed among key stakeholders in November.
In order to facilitate a diversity of perspectives, InterAction convened member organizations’ senior humanitarian operational staff alongside their USG policy and advocacy counterparts — including participants from InterAction’s own Humanitarian Policy and Practice and Global Development and Learning teams. The resulting document helped ground recommendations for the U.S. government in terms that would have a strong impact on delivery of humanitarian assistance in the field, rather than simply looking at bureaucratic organization in Washington. This helped push the U.S. government’s own efforts at reforming humanitarian assistance, as reflected in its reference in the recently issued “USAID Congressional Notification” on the proposed Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance.
Specific outcomes in the report focused on strengthening the coherence of USG humanitarian assistance through the adoption of a needs-based approach, focused on assisting vulnerable people regardless of their status as refugees, internally displaced people (IDPs), or members of host communities. This topline outcome was supplemented by several recommendations, which spoke to specific ways the USG could improve humanitarian response, including:
Increased transparency through harmonized and open data on humanitarian funding
Enhanced support to national and local actors
Adoption of evidence-based approaches for the use of market-based tools
Decreased reliance on pass-through mechanisms and improved partnership agreements
Completion of multi-year planning and provision of multi-year funding
Pre-approval of partners to hasten response in sudden-onset emergencies
Harmonization and simplification of application and reporting mechanisms
Calibration of response to protracted crises and state fragility through better planning and response collaboration with development actors