Report: Smaller groups often most effective during crises

AP News
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Posted: Apr 11, 2016 8:10 PM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Smaller, more specialized private companies and local groups are often better equipped to provide aid in a modern crisis area like Syria, but the majority of humanitarian aid funding goes to large international organizations that have no incentive to relinquish their power, according to a new study released Tuesday.

The report, "Time to let go: remaking humanitarian action for the modern era," was released by the London-based Overseas Development Institute ahead of the U.N.'s World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul from May 23-24.

Local and national non-governmental organizations directly received just 0.2 percent of total humanitarian assistance in 2014 as reported to the United Nations, according to the report. These include diaspora solidarity groups, regional diaspora organizations and private companies.

Despite the disparity in funding, such groups have often been more effective as first responders in crisis areas such as Syria, South Sudan, and Yemen because they are close to the front lines and have local knowledge and networks, according to the report.

"U.N. agencies and large (international NGOs) should reorient their activities away from direct implementation, taking on a more enabling role," the report reads.

Larger humanitarian operations suffer from pressure to expand, the push for increased visibility and an aversion to risk, the study found.

The study recommends that the U.N. and large international NGOs let go of power and resources to allow local and national aid organizations to lead crisis responses. It also suggests that people's needs be placed above big humanitarian organizations' drive for resources and visibility and that they acknowledge that not only humanitarian organizations can provide effective relief.