Thursday, April 19, 2012

NDMA Organizes National Workshop of Secretaries of Disaster Management

Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Ministry of Home Affairs

18-April-2012 18:37 IST

NDMA Organizes National Workshop of Secretaries of Disaster Management

The National Workshop of Principal Secretaries/ Secretaries of Disaster Management Department of all States/ UTs on Best Practices in Disaster Management and Role of Science and Technology in Early Warning and Forecasting of Disasters was held in New Delhi today. Speaking on the occasion, Vice Chairman, NDMA Shri Shashidhar Reddy said that we should stop thinking in terms of incremental increases when it comes to upgrading our observational capabilities. We need to assess our final requirements, set a deadline and start working backward. Special efforts should be made to achieve this. We have excellent technical capability and I am sure that we can find the necessary funds.

Shri Reddy also emphasized upon the need for strengthening the State Remote Sensing Application Centres for providing better Decision Support System at the local levels. The National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) should look into the working of the State Centres in the context of local vulnerabilities and make recommendations to bring them on par with the better Centres like in Andhra Pradesh. Shri Reddy wanted them to suggest the kind of infrastructure, equipment and man-power to achieve this so that it can be taken up with the States, which will have to provide necessary funds for this purpose.

Capacity building is also one of the most important subjects. NDMA is in the process of revising the guidelines for National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) which is responsible for training and capacity building in disaster management with focus largely on Training of Trainers. He said the NDMA will seriously consider the suggestions made during this workshop about the setting up State Institute of Disaster Management by the States as done in some States like Uttar Pradesh.

Lauding the role of NDRF, he called upon the States to focus on raising State Disaster Response Force for providing rescue and relief locally and assured all assistance for training. He said that the Government of India has decided to make National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) a stand-alone dedicated force which is not to be deployed for any other duties like law & order and election duties, etc. Shri Reddy wanted the officials to impress upon their State Governments to expedite the process of formation of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) wherever not been done so far and also suggested that SDRF should also remain a dedicated force without being given any other duties like the NDRF. Like the NDRF, SDRF can also be involved in community sensitization which will go a long way in preparing the communities to deal with disasters. Concerted efforts in this direction will have a tremendous impact on Community Based Disaster Preparedness over the next few years.


UN launches new initiative to assess urban risk

UN launches new initiative to assess urban risk

One of the largest malls in the Philippines, SM City North EDSA, is located in Quezon City. In 2011, the city held five consultative workshops with a variety of stakeholders on the Local Government Self-Assessment Tool to assess urban risk.
GENEVA, 18 April 2012 - The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) today launched a new initiative to support cities around the world to manage risk following the worst year on record for economic losses from disasters. It also announced today that over 1,000 cities have now joined its "Making Cities Resilient" Campaign.

Campaign Director, Helena Molin Valdés, said: "Cities and towns are on the frontline of disaster risk reduction and bore the brunt of insured economic losses from disasters last year of $380 billion. We are launching a new online Local Government Self-Assessment Tool as part of our global 'Making Cities Resilient' campaign to allow cities to establish baselines, identify planning and investment gaps for risk reduction and climate change adaptation."

She said that the new local government tool would greatly enrich understanding of the challenges ahead as the world starts to think about a new blueprint for disaster risk reduction once the existing plan, the Hyogo Framework for Action, expires in 2015. To date, 133 countries have been reporting at the national level on their progress against the priorities agreed on in the Hyogo Framework. The new local government tool would enable city governments to submit data for national progress reports, for the first time.

The tool has been tested in over 20 cities around the world, including the Philippines city of Quezon, which held five consultative workshops with a variety of stakeholders over the course of 2011. "Critical to this process is the identification of stakeholders that will participate as the ultimate goal is to provide a comprehensive rating of the city's performance," said Quezon Mayor, Herbert M. Bautista.

Read the detailed document at :

CDKN reports will help developing countries plan for climate extremes

New CDKN reports will help developing countries plan for climate extremes

London, 17 April 2012: The Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) today launches a three-part series of reports, “Managing Climate Extremes and Disasters: Lessons from the IPCC SREX Report” covering each of the Asia, Africa and Latin American and Caribbean regions.

The reports highlight the scientific findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (known as ‘SREX’) for each region, and discuss the implications for society.

The SREX report itself was compiled over two and a half years, involving 220 expert authors, 19 review editors and a four-day approval process by government representatives from around the world. The final 594 page report and its 20 page summary present a rich but sobering account of how different forms of extreme weather events – ranging from high temperatures to heavy rainfall – are likely to become more common by the end of the 21st century, and are more likely to be caused by climate change.

The CDKN “Lessons from the IPCC SREX Report” series pulls out the state-of-the-art knowledge about current and future impacts of climate extremes, and options for dealing with them.

Sam Bickersteth, CDKN’s Chief Executive, said: “The SREX report is a monumental achievement, but CDKN wanted to help policy-makers, media, businesses and civil society stakeholders to navigate this huge resource. That’s why we produced these regional guides which are easy to use, but preserve the careful scientific language of the original.”

Read in detail at :-

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

SEBI issues disaster recovery guidelines for exchanges

SEBI has issued guidelines on business continuity and disaster recovery for exchanges and depositories.

This is to ensure their preparedness in the event of a natural calamity.

SEBI said that disruptions affect market integrity and investor confidence.

The regulator's technical advisory committee has said that exchanges and depositories should have a Business continuity plan (BCP) and a disaster recovery site (DRS) to maintain data and transaction integrity.

Apart from DRS, exchanges should also have a near site (NS) in a different seismic zone, from their primary data centre (PDC) to ensure zero data loss.

Exchanges / Depositories should have recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) not more than 30 minutes and four hours, respectively.

Read in detail at :-

Proven approaches for empowering women smallholders and achieving food security

What Works for Women: Proven approaches for empowering women smallholders and achieving food security
28 pages

The question of 'what changes do we need to empower women smallholders and achieve food security?' has been asked repeatedly. But transformational changes in both public policy and practice have been few and far between, although increasing access to resources and opportunities for women farmers could substantially reduce the number of hungry people in the world. In this context, nine international development agencies (ActionAid, Care, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Find Your Feet, Oxfam, Practical Action, Save the Children, and Self Help Africa) have produced a briefing to share the lessons learned based on their experience of promoting gender equality and working with women smallholders and rural women over many decades. The paper concludes with a number of recommendations for policy makers on measures to help close the gender gap in agriculture.

Read in detail about the document at :-

Australia, Germany, UK raise bar for donors, says report

By David Singh

GENEVA, 16 April 2012 - A new report on humanitarian responses states that "If other donors were to follow the lead being set by Australia, Germany and the United Kingdom, it could mean a turning point in transforming the humanitarian system from a reactive, response-driven model, to a proactive, preventive and anticipatory model."

The 2011 Humanitarian Response Index (HRI) by Development Assistance Research Associates (DARA) which is based on research carried out on 23 of the world's main donor governments and nine major crises, highlights that Australia and Germany are becoming increasingly engaged in supporting disaster risk reduction (DRR) and preparedness efforts, with a focus on capacity-building at the local level as an integrated part of their humanitarian assistance.

The HRI further highlights that the United Kingdom also has a revised humanitarian strategy which is now centred on how aid efforts, including development aid, can contribute to building resilience and anticipating future needs.

The report underscores however, that "DRR and prevention have been relegated to a grey area where no one takes ownership and leadership."

According to the HRI, its findings confirm what previous reports have consistently revealed, "A persistent lack of political commitment and investment in capacity-building, conflict and disaster prevention, preparedness and risk reduction."

"Part of the problem", state the HRI, "is a narrow vision among donor governments of humanitarian assistance as emergency relief in the strictest sense, with everything else falling in the development assistance remit." The flip side is that "most development assistance programmes fail to see risk reduction and prevention as part of their mandate".

The HRI finds corroboration in another recent study - Disaster Risk Reduction: Spending where it should count by Jan Kellet and Dan Sparks - which estimates that less than one percent of all official government aid (ODA) - development or humanitarian assistance -- is allocated towards preparedness activities.

Read in detail about the document at :-

Monday, April 16, 2012

NASA to carry out research on climate in Bangladesh

NASA to carry out research on climate in Bangladesh

Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha . Dhaka

The National Aeronautic and Space Administration, the US space research centre, is keen to carry out research on weather and climate in Bangladesh, the most vulnerable country to climate change.
The visiting chief scientist of Earth Science Division of NASA, Hal Maring, expressed this when she called on the environment and forest minister, Hasan Mahmud, at the latter’s secretariat office in Dhaka Thursday.
Maring said the NASA would conduct the multidisciplinary research on Bangladesh’s environment and climate change under its South and South East Asia Composition, Cloud, Climate Coupling Regional Study Programme.
Over 250 scientists of this region, using the biggest aircraft of NASA, would take part in the research in the Asia-Pacific region’s sky including Bangladesh scheduled to begin from August and September next, the NASA scientist said.
She said information and data, to be collected from this research, would help efficient weather forecasting and agriculture research activities of Bangladesh which at risk of climatic disorders including cyclone, floods and tidal surge.
Lauding the NASA’s research initiative, Hasan said Bangladesh would be benefited enormously as the research on environment and climate change would help exchange information and data among the member states of this region.


Nations call for focus on disaster risk reduction at Rio+20

Nations call for focus on disaster risk reduction at Rio+20

From left: Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, President of the sixty-sixth session of the General Assembly, meets with Bob Carr, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia prior to attending the UN General Assembly Thematic Debate on Disaster Risk Reduction.
By Denis McClean

NEW YORK, 13 April 2012 - There was a strong call for "the incorporation of disaster risk reduction in any future framework for sustainable development" during the UN General Assembly Thematic Debate on Disaster Risk Reduction yesterday which served as a major curtain raiser for Rio+20.

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bob Carr, delivered a statement on behalf of the Co-Chairs of the Friends of Disaster Risk Reduction group, Australia, Indonesia, Norway and Peru which were joined by Denmark, Ecuador, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Philippines, New Zealand, Switzerland and Timor Leste.

"We call for strong and strategic language on disaster risk reduction in the Outcome Document of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development -- language that recognizes disaster risk reduction as fundamental to achieving sustainable development and places it at the heart of the future development agenda," the statement read.

Minister Carr said the Group is also urging increased investment "in disaster risk reduction and to build the resilience of the most vulnerable communities. The knowledge and experience of both men and women in those communities must be taken into account".

He said that at the 2009 Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction, the UN Secretary-General had called "for a target to halve the losses of lives from disasters by 2015, when the terms of the Hyogo Framework for Action ends. For this to happen we ask for all major cities in disaster-prone areas to include and enforce disaster risk reduction measures in their building and land use codes by 2015."

The Group also highlighted the recognition that disaster risk reduction has been given in processes such as the Fourth High-Level Forum on Development Effectiveness, the 4th UN Conference on Least Developed Countries and the 16th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCC.

Minister Carr congratulated the President of the UN General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, for taking the initiative in holding the day-long debate, and concluded: "We hope that Rio+20 will send a strong message that ensures risk and building resilience underpin the framework for achieving sustainable development."

The Group of 77 developing countries and China also said the debate was timely in the context of the upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development. It should provide the opportunity for this important topic to be addressed in the sustainable development framework and for the Group of 77 to address its inclusion in the outcome document of the Conference.

In a statement delivered by Permanent Representative of Algeria to the UN, Abdelghani Merabet, the Group insisted on strengthening coordination among UN agencies and governments and encouraging the Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction and Recovery to continue to support the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action.

"The Group of 77 and China fully supports the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, the Hyogo Declaration and the Hyogo Framework for Action, and is committed to further promoting their principles and objectives as well as its mandate to promote public awareness and commitment, expand networks and partnerships, and improve knowledge about causes of disaster and options for risk reduction."

In a separate statement, the Chinese delegation said: "We hope that the UN Conference on Sustainable Development to be held in June in Rio de Janeiro will reach consensus in this field so as to push forward the international cause of disaster risk reduction."

Willem Rampangilei, Indoensia's Deputy Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare spoke on behalf of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the UN Global Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction, saying that disaster risk reduction is crucial for disaster-prone countries like Indonesia. It is a top government priority, and Indonesia has shifted the disaster management paradigm from emergency response and recovery to a more comprehensive approach.

The Japanese Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Joe Nakano, who spoke at the opening session, drew attention to the fact that although the Great East Japan Earthquake, measuring magnitude 9, was the largest in the country's recorded history, "damages to buildings and structures by the earthquake were rather small thanks to our implementation of some of the world's most advanced seismic technology and building codes."

He declared that "Japan's efforts and experience at disaster risk reduction should be a message to countries and regions all around the world, telling of the value of mainstreaming disaster risk reduction and of the necessity of building societies resilient to disasters."

Vice-Minister Nakano reiterated a theme that was much repeated by other contributors throughout the day: "how critical it is to fully consider disaster risk reduction as an integral part of international cooperation. Not only do natural disasters cause serious damage to vulnerable communities but they can even wash away achievements in long-term development in a flash."

He said that Japan will bring the outcome of its "High-Level International Conference on Large-Scale Natural Disasters" in July to the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in 2015. "I affirm that Japan is fully committed to contributing to the discussions to establish a post-Hyogo Framework for Action," he said.

The panel discussions on addressing urban risk through public investment and increasing resilience to disasters through climate adaptation and risk reduction were moderated throughout the day by Margareta Wahlström, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).

Representatives from over 30 countries sought to contribute to the debate and it was a clear sign of the engagement and commitment of the large turn-out that time ran out before all statements could be heard.

Ms. Wahlström summarized some the key threads of the discussions and stressed that the whole day's debate which was transmitted live on the internet would be available in a Chair's summary from the office of the UN General Assembly President as a major contribution to the debate at Rio+20.

On urban risk, she said there were clear messages from the Mayor Augusto Barrera of Quito, and Mr. K. Gokhan Elgin, Director of the urban renewal project for Istanbul, ISMEP, about the importance of priority setting in cities and empowering local governments who were closest to the population.

She said that the afternoon session which brought out the indebtedness of Small Island Developing States offered dramatic evidence of the toll which disasters such as floods and drought, fuelled by climate change, are taking across the world.

In his concluding remarks, General Assembly President, Nassir Abdulazis Al-Nasser, said there is now unprecedented international momentum to reduce disaster risk. The views of Member States had been made clear throughout the day's discussions. Rio+20 must strategically place disaster risk reduction within the development framework. "This is an opportunity that must not be missed," he said.


(Part 1) Thematic Debate on "Disaster Risk Reduction" - General Assembly

(Part 2) Thematic Debate on "Disaster Risk Reduction" - General Assembly

Minister praises the value of early warning systems at United Nations General Assembly debate on Disaster Risk Reduction

Minister praises the value of early warning systems at United Nations General Assembly debate on Disaster Risk Reduction

Media release

13 April 2012

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr today said the value of investing in regional Tsunami early warning systems was confirmed following this week's earthquakes off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia.

Senator Carr said Australia's regional neighbours received an Indian Ocean wide tsunami warning just seven minutes after the 8.5 magnitude earthquake occurred at 6:38pm Australian Eastern Standard Time on Wednesday 11 April.

"Early warning systems are critical to saving lives and to reducing the risks and costs of natural disasters caused by tsunamis.

"Our region gets more than its share of natural disasters and early warning systems are now agreed as essential to limiting their impacts."

Senator Carr was speaking at a United Nations General Assembly debate on Disaster Risk Reduction where he praised the partnership between Australia and Indonesia in managing the risk of disasters in the region.

"It was a great relief to all Australians and our regional neighbours when the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre issued a nil tsunami threat for Australia within 24 minutes of the earthquake.

"I am advised by the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre, which is operated by Geoscience Australia and the Bureau of Meteorology that all warnings issued as part of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System were delivered within normal operational timeframes.

"Following the devastating tsunamis in the Indian Ocean in 2004 and in Japan last year, the international community has become acutely aware of the value of investing in disaster risk reduction.

"Australia is a strong supporter of international efforts to reduce the risk that natural disasters pose in developing nations – particularly countries in our region.

"In May 2005, following the Indian Ocean tsunami, the Australian Government committed $69.8 million over four years (2005-09), to the Australian Tsunami Warning System initiative.

"This initiative:

  • Provides a comprehensive tsunami warning system for Australia
  • Supports establishment of an Indian Ocean tsunami warning system
  • Helps facilitate a tsunami warning system for the South West Pacific

"Through the Australia-Indonesia Facility for Disaster Reduction, the Australian aid program has provided support to Indonesia's Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) and Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMMKG) to assist in quickly estimating the impact of earthquakes.

"In eastern Indonesia, Australia is also supporting a program with funding of $1 million to assist communities to identify priorities for disaster risk reduction through mapping the parts of their community that are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters using a free 'wiki-map'.

"And in the Pacific, Australia has upgraded equipment at monitoring stations in 12 countries to strengthen tsunami warning capacity and measure sea level changes," Senator Carr said.

Media enquiries

  • Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
  • DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555

Severe Weather Warnings,India, DATE : APRIL 16, 2012



Thursday, April 5, 2012

AID POLICY: Humanitarianism in a changing world

AID POLICY: Humanitarianism in a changing world

Madrid-based think-tank DARA believes the number of countries adversely affected by changing weather will rise from 15 today to 54 in 2030
DUBAI, 4 April 2012 (IRIN) - There is “worrying evidence” that the scale and scope of disasters will increase significantly in coming years and “the international community is not prepared,” says Ross Mountain, director-general of Development Assistance Research Associates(DARA), a Madrid-based think-tank which advocates better humanitarian policies.

He was speaking at the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid & Development Conference & Exhibition, which ran from 1-3 April.

In vulnerable countries food prices, urbanization, migration, the impact of climate change and population growth are all increasing. But as the challenges grow, the resources available in OECD countries - the traditional donors - to respond to humanitarian crises are shrinking.

“The challenge will be huge,” Johannes Luchner, head of the Middle East, Central and South-West Asia unit of the European Commission’s humanitarian aid arm ECHO, said at the conference. “We need to do things differently in order to cope with this development.”

Part of doing things differently is planning for the future.

“Given the increased scale of needs and vulnerability, we need a radical shift in attitude and working practices to integrate anticipation, disaster risk reduction, preparedness and resilience into our programmes,” Mountain said.

“Many governments and many organizations still operate on a model that focuses on short-term crises, rather than looking at the longer term trends and their humanitarian implications… If we do not take a more participatory preventive approach, we will be responsible for countless avoidable suffering in the decades to come.”

His thoughts were echoed by Yacoub El Hillo, director of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)’s Bureau for the Middle East and North Africa, who told the conference:

“I don’t think the international capacity today is well placed to respond - not to a collection of these mega-crises - even to one of them… And they are literally all over the world.” He said the international community needs to ask itself “whether the business-as-usual approach will continue to cut it…

“Prevention is better than a cure,” El Hillo told IRIN later. “A cure can never be adequate if the needs are growing by the hour, but the resources are declining by the minute.”

Speakers at the conference identified a number of trends, challenges and issues that humanitarians should take heed of if they are to “do better” in the future. Here are some of them:

Youth bulge: Almost 40 percent of the global population is under 24; over one billion people - one in five people - are aged 15-24; in one third of the world’s countries, more than 60 percent of the population is under 30; and 85 percent of the world’s youth live in the developing world. “Youth are a dominant demographic reality… a reality that demands urgent focus and consideration, especially in our development plans,” William Lacy Swing, director-general of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), told the conference.

“Without investments early on, youth remain trapped in situations of poverty and dependency, and are easily co-opted into criminality, social conflict, and patterns of inter-generational violence.”

''Forging smart and strategic partnership is one way for the international humanitarian community to better respond to today's growing humanitarian challenges''
Participants also stressed the need to better engage youth in humanitarian aid. “People under-estimate the capacity of youth,” said Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, wife of the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and a UN Messenger of Peace. “How is it that we give them so little role in setting the global development agenda or helping find new routes to ending political conflicts that deplete our energy and resources?”

Unemployment: With this “demographic tsunami”, as Princess Haya put it, “there are already too many people for too few jobs and the impact of technology, especially in the manufacturing sector, will be to reduce those numbers even further.” The Middle East and North Africa, for example, will have to create 20 million jobs in the next 10 years to align its unemployment rate of 25 percent with the global rate of 10 percent - a task that is “utterly daunting,” according to Justin Sykes, manager of social innovation at the Doha-based company Silatech, which focuses on creating jobs in the Arab world.

Migration: The rising number of young people, combined with high rates of unemployment, has been a key driver of global migration, which has reached unprecedented heights. Today, one in seven people in the world is a migrant. About 215 million migrants are crossing international borders and another 740 million are domestic migrants moving from rural to urban areas in search of work.

“Migration is with us to stay. It is a mega-trend of the 21st century,” Swing said. In some North African countries, more than three-quarters of youth said they intended to migrate at any cost, but had little information on the details of their journey or what job they would do once they reached their destination, IOM surveying has found. Increasingly, people who would meet the definition of a refugee are hidden in large groups of migrants, El Hillo added. This so-called “mixed migration” is making it harder to help refugees.

Climate change: DARA estimates that by 2030, there will have been 835 million deaths due to climate-related issues - not only extreme weather events, but preventable conditions like malnutrition and infectious diseases, which will be exacerbated by climate change. The number of countries adversely affected by changing weather will rise from 15 today to 54 in 2030. Mountain says the international community should focus on preventable illnesses and build the ability of vulnerable countries to adapt and mitigate the impact of climate change. See DARA’s 2010 Climate Vulnerability Monitor for more.

Politicization of humanitarian aid: Governments are increasingly linking humanitarian assistance to political, military or anti-terrorism objectives. Think Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and the occupied Palestinian territory. “This is a dangerous game which has deadly consequences in terms of access, protection and safety of civilians and humanitarian actors alike,” Mountain said. In other cases, like Syria, governments and/or armed groups have increasingly denied access to humanitarian organizations. Read more on the politicization of aid in the 2011 release of the Humanitarian Response Index, an annual survey published by DARA.

New actors in humanitarianism: There has been an explosion of NGOs in recent years; but also a change in the donor landscape. The economic downturn in the West has meant a growing role for donors and organizations from the Arab and Muslim worlds, for example. This means two things. First, the international community needs to better, and “more respectfully”, engage these new players. “The tendency on the part of many of us in the international community is to come thinking that money is to be given so that we, the experts, go back and do the work,” El Hillo said. “The talk should be more about strategic partnerships and not about money… Forging smart and strategic partnership is one way for the international humanitarian community to better respond to today's growing humanitarian challenges,” he told IRIN.

But as humanitarian aid becomes more popular, ECHO’s Luchner said, “we also need to be sure we can channel all this good will into a professional way of providing humanitarian aid.”

Local ownership: National actors have shown a desire to take on increased responsibilities in responding to crises, and the international community should welcome that, according to Ambassador Manuel Bessler, deputy director-general of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Department. He said he learned this lesson during the floods in Pakistan, when, as the head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs there, he was not in enough contact with the authorities. The Arab Spring has also shown the capacity of civil society, and this must be embraced, El Hillo said: “Civil society organizations, NGOs in the Arab world are not there to be taught what they will do. They have a lot to teach.”

Innovation: The humanitarian community must move beyond traditional ways of thinking and look to innovative ways of dealing with the crises it faces. Bessler pointed to the success Switzerland has had in places like Somalia, with giving cash assistance instead of in-kind donations to vulnerable people. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is now experimenting with how to do this in emergencies. “It moves away from hand-outs to hands-on,” Bessler said, and also helps stimulate local economies. Another growing field is the use of text messaging on mobile phones to connect youth to potential employers, as Silatech has done in several new projects in the Arab world, or farmers to markets as has been done in sub-Saharan Africa.

Humanitarian versus development aid: As the lines between humanitarian aid and development work become increasingly blurred, humanitarians need to do a better job of advocating preparedness, Mountain said.

“When you deal with the military, they spend about 90-95 percent of their time planning and maybe 5 percent of their time doing,” he told IRIN, “whereas the humanitarians spend about 95 percent of their time, if not more, doing, and very little time planning… Even when people are not at war, they have an army. When there are no fires, you have a fire department sitting there. When you have a humanitarian crisis, by and large, you actually go out and try to get the firemen to come together and go out. So surprise surprise, we’re not as fast as we need to be.”