Report: Local Authorities, Organizations are Power Players in Emergency Response

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There were 317 natural disasters reported worldwide in 2014, affecting 94 countries. This is according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) which released the World Disasters Report for 2015, an annual publication contributing evidence-based research on the challenges, trends and innovations in disaster risk reduction and crisis management. This year’s report explores the importance “local actors” play in conducting humanitarian operations in response to disasters.

What is meant by “local actors?”

National authorities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) may be considered local in comparison to international responders in a crisis. Provincial governors, mayors, neighborhood officials and community-level civil organizations see themselves as local as compared to both national and international entities. Community-level branches and volunteers of national organizations, such as National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, are more local than their own national hierarchies.

The report further examines the complexities and challenges local actors face in sustaining their humanitarian response. Local actors play a critical role and are most effective when it comes to humanitarian operations. According to the year-long research, of the total funding given to international, regional, national and local NGOs between 2010 and 2014, only 1.6% of these funds were channeled directly to national and local NGOs.

Another example where this is illustrated is in the January 2010 Haitian earthquake, where local actors received less than 10% of the U.S. $6.43 billion that was disbursed in the two years to follow.

In summary, the report calls on governments and the international aid community to do more to reinforce and the support local actors. However, the whole responsibility for responding to large-scale disasters cannot be transferred to local actors. The international community still has a very important role to play, but a better balance needs to be struck. International actors can provide specialized resources and technical expertise, brought with humility, trust and respect, and with a true commitment to building local capacity.

Click here to learn more about or download the World Disasters Report 2015

Click here to learn more about the IFRC

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Robb Mayberry

Robb Mayberry is a Public Information Officer for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. He has assisted in the response and recovery efforts with some of California’s worst disasters, including the San Refugio Oil Spill, the Valley and Butte Wildfires, Aliso Canyon Gas Leak, Erskine Fire, and the Winters Storms of 2017. Prior to public service, he spent 25 years managing the public and media relations for some of Northern California’s largest healthcare organizations.

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