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Engagement of crisis-affected people in humanitarian action

Engaging with and being accountable to people affected by crises and disasters should be part of any humanitarian worker’s DNA. It’s not an easy motto to live up to, though, and for a few years now humanitarians have been trying to do better.

The global conversation on engagement and accountability, which was also the topic of ALNAP's 29th Annual Meeting, fed into the ALNAP study "Rhetoric or reality? Putting affected people at the centre of humanitarian action", launched in October 2014. Its key findings are summarised in a four-page Discussion starter.

With a growing number of actors involved – including governments, military, private sector and civil society actors – and an unprecedented string of four “level 3” humanitarian crises happening simultaneously in Iraq, South Sudan, Syria and the Central African Republic (not to mention the difficulties in Gaza), discussion of engagement and accountability to affected communities has never been more urgent.

29th ALNAP Annual Meeting

11-13 March 2014 | Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

ALNAP's biggest Annual Meeting, hosted by Africa Humanitarian Action in 2014, brought together over 180 participants from over 100 organisations. Why an ALNAP Annual Meeting on the engagement of affected populations? The calls are getting louder and more frequent for better engagement with people and communities affected by crisis. We’ve grasped the reality that better engagement should mean more relevant and efficient emergency responses. It can also lead to people being treated with dignity and preserving a sense of agency. Yet, despite this growing realisation, the insights gained from many ALNAP Members with experience in involving crisis-affected people in programming are scattered and often go unrecorded. This ALNAP Annual Meeting provided the membership with an opportunity to share best practice and learn from each other.

Presentations and audio recordings

Click on the session titles below to download presentations and listen to recordings.

11 March

Session 1 

The role of states in engaging affected population in humanitarian response

Making space for the voice of communities, from design to evaluation of aid programmes

Experiences of participation from three continents

From Rwanda to the Philippines - How much have we really changed the way we engage with affected populations?

Session 2

Communication and accountability: lessons from practice

Community-based DEWS to assist local capacity building

Good practice for livelihoods-based emergency response

Engaging urban communities in humanitarian response

12 March

Session 1

Accountability and the politics civil society, the state and INGOs play

Closing the loop: Effective feedback mechanisms in humanitarian contexts

Learning from engaging with affected communities in Kenya's arid lands

Women's experiences of leading emergency response at community level

Session 2

Knowledge is power: Engagement and information

Building accountability to affected populations into humanitarian evaluations

Engagement of civil society, agencies and affected people in Syria crisis response

Multiple actors in the humanitarian system - How do they engage with affected people?

Opening session

Opening remarks by Nan Buzard, ALNAP Chair

Welcome address by His Excellency Ato. Mitiku Kassa,
State Minister, Ministry of Agriculture, Ethiopia

Expert panel

Prof. Robert Chambers, Research Associate, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex (UK)

Dr. B.T. Constantinos, Vice President, Africa Humanitarian Action

Dr. Barb Wigley, Senior Policy Consultant, World Food Programme


Who engages with whom? Who is accountable to whom? Can the development sector learn from the humanitarian sector? by Robert Chambers

Whose value for whose money? Views from the ALNAP conference on engaging crisis-affected people by Sophia Swithern

It’s not all about us: getting humanitarian accountability right by Alyoscia D'Onofrio

Putting the Last First…or Better Enabling First Responders? by Rachel Houghton and Eleanor Monbiot

How bad language leads to poor humanitarian outcomes by Nick van Praag 


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