Not a priority: the lack of contextual understanding in humanitarian missions

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by Dominic Naish

Humanitarian agencies worldwide increasingly recognise that the ‘doing’ part of their work must be supplemented by a ‘thinking’ part. The ‘new way of working’, the nexus approach and the rise in prominence of conflict sensitivity are all outworkings of an appreciation that humanitarian contexts require thought as well as action. The challenge for the humanitarian sector is how to keep thinking – through research, analysis and reflection – when at the coalface of delivering assistance. In my experience, humanitarian NGOs are mostly failing the challenge.

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