Hungary: Role of local actors key topic at World Disaster Report roundtable discussion

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By Andreea Anca, IFRC

The crucial role of local actors to the humanitarian response in crises – a key topic in the IFRC’s World Disaster Report (WDR) 2015 - was the main focus of a roundtable discussion hosted by the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, on 11 February 2016.

Some of the main contributors to the publication discussed the complex relationship between the international and the local humanitarian players at times of crisis with CEU professors, students, the diplomatic community, and international and national organisations. The discussion echoed the main message of the WDR, concluding that the cooperation between the local and interantioanal humanitarian stakeholders is essential to the effective overall response to crises. Local actors should be recognised as part of the solution to a crisis as they provide access through proximity and have a profound understanding of the local context. The participants also addressed the problematic issue of the funding of local actors, further explored in the IFRC report, Focus on local actors, the key to the humanitarian effectiveness.

“Many organisations channel funding to local partners but it is not clear how much and to what effect,” said Andrew Cartwright, Professor at the Centre for Policy Studies at CEU in his role as a moderator of the event. He was also one of the main contributors to the report.

“However, it is clear that local partners are essential especially in situations where there are access issues and insecurity on the ground,“ he continued.

The roundtable panel included Professor Mo Hamza, the Lead Editor of the WDR 2015; David Fisher, co-author of the WDR and Coordinator of the Disaster Law Programme at IFRC; Ljubomir Karakanovsky, senior expert on Disaster Management at the Bulgarian Red Cross; and Albert Royaards, the President of the Smiling Hospital Foundation.

Karakanovsky, as representative of the local Red Cross actors, highlighted the crucial role the Bulgarian Red Cross volunteers at local level had in gaining access during the floods in 2014, and during devastating earthquakes, fires and terrorist attacks in the past. As a disaster management expert, he stressed the critical correlation between enhanced capacities of local Red Cross branches and their ability to respond quickly in a crisis.

The event was organized jointly by the IFRC Regional Office for Europe and the CEU. The two organisations have a long-term strategic partnership to support the IFRC’s commitment to an enhanced evidence-based approach in its work.