Independent Review Urges Closer Ties Between UK Development, Humanitarian Work

U.K. Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell (second from right) talks with a Red Crescent representative, who explains the humanitarian needs at a transit camp near the Libya-Tunisia border, during a visit in March. An independent review of the U.K. humanitarian response system recommends that humanitarian concerns be a core part of the Department of International Development's programming. Photo by: Department for International Development/Kate Joseph

Humanitarian concerns should be a core part of the Department of International Development’s programming, and DfID should establish a closer and more integrated relationship between its development work and the way it responds to global humanitarian crises, according to an independent review of the U.K. humanitarian response system.

The review notes that while the United Kingdom has a good reputation when it comes to humanitarian response, the country needs to do better if it is to adequately respond to an anticipated rise in the number of humanitarian crises and natural disasters.

The review, which was led by Lord Paddy Ashdown, a former leader of the U.K.’s Liberal Democrats, lays out high-level as well as practical recommendations, including better anticipation of disasters by developing a global “risk register” and greater coordination of scientific research.

It also emphasizes the need to help high-risk countries become more resilient to shocks and seeks closer engagement with local institutions and people.

Further, the report highlights the need for more innovative, efficient and effective humanitarian response strategies and for greater transparency and accountability both in the United Kingdom and in aid-recipient countries.

It urges DfID to develop new partnerships in the humanitarian sector by engaging more closely with emerging world powers, the military and the private sector as well as strengthening its existing partnerships with the European Union and other key leaders in the international humanitarian scene.

The review also notes that the humanitarian space should also be defended and strengthened, explaining that humanitarian workers should be given access and protection when providing assistance in conflict-torn areas.

To be sure, the international humanitarian system has room for improvement, the report says. It highlights the need for substantial improvement at the strategic, political and operational levels of the international system.

“The UN needs to invest in a leadership cadre and ensure its best people are deployed quickly to the biggest and most complex disasters,” the report notes.

Christian charity World Vision has welcomed the findings of the review, urging DfID to accept the review’s recommendations.

The review “gives positive examples for DFID to improve these aspects like the Consortium of British Humanitarian Agencies, of which World Vision is a member. We also welcome the call for more transparency and accountability of the UN in disaster response to improve how humanitarian emergencies are funded and by ensuring a ‘dedicated and experienced cluster leadership’,” World Vision said in a statement.

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.