Engaging Across Humanitarian and Development Sectors

Photo from Forum 2014

I began working at InterAction six months ago, and I am excited to be at an organization with members that support the poorest and most disadvantaged around the world. I have found that InterAction is aptly named, as it connects people working in multiple and diverse sectors on incredibly important issues. As a new arrival, I am eager to participate in InterAction’s Forum in April and discuss the critical issues the non-profit community faces with InterAction’s diverse membership.

Since my arrival, I’ve been surprised at the depth at which InterAction members and affiliates work cooperatively to address how concerns and issues – such as good governance or effective aid reform – affect both the humanitarian and development communities. Multiple sectors, completely separated in their day-to-day work, may face the same challenges not only in Washington, but also in the countries where they operate. Infrastructure obstacles, challenges stemming from corruption, or bureaucratic burdens are just some of the issues that inhibit the work of the wider community. But, because of convening events such as InterAction’s Forum, colleagues from these different sectors can engage to learn and benefit from each other’s experiences.

My particular portfolio focuses on Democracy, Rights, and Governance (DRG) and it doesn’t lack for challenge. Often in fragile or conflict states, DRG goes out the window. However, development workers or humanitarian responders may experience the same struggles as DRG promoters. The same bureaucratic red tape may prevent international responders from entering a region the same as any other foreign worker.  A controlling government may restrict civil society participation, no matter if it’s an international entity providing food, a local group working on freedom of expression, or a multinational organization working for women and youth development. The absence of infrastructure prevents the shipment of life-saving food aid, as well as access by development workers seeking to build capacity for communities.

This year’s Forum will feature workshops relating to civil society space, youth empowerment, infrastructure, as well as evaluating aid effectiveness – issues paramount to DRG work and equally important to many humanitarian and development organizations. 

The Forum also provides an opportunity for non-profit workers to hear from other non-profit workers. The ability to listen firsthand to the opportunities and challenges other organizations face benefits our community by allowing us to work more efficiently and effectively. Forum participants not only hear concerns, but engage with each other to influence the formation of necessary responses that better enable the efforts of individual organizations and, at the same time, that of the broader community. The united voice of our community reverberates across sectors and helps the government, private sector, and multinational leaders and officials hear the message.

I look forward to InterAction’s Forum and encourage my colleagues to attend, and lend their voice to our collective efforts to make a valuable impact on the lives of so many in need.

Editor's Note: This blog is part of a month-long series from InterAction staff, highlighting the various opportunities Forum offers to participants.

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