Communities matter: Examining the role of informal support networks in humanitarian response

Abstract

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Growing evidence suggests that households’ own social networks are critical sources of support during protracted crises. Yet governments, donors and aid agencies have, traditionally, not accounted for such informal support when assessing households’ vulnerability or their resilience, or when designing, implementing, and evaluating their programs. The humanitarian community must ensure that formal assistance strengthens, and at the very least does not undermine, these important sources of informal support. Support networks are also a critical but overlooked topic in global efforts to localize humanitarian assistance. But to date, localization has largely been framed in terms of engagement between formal actors, particularly between international and national NGOs, and discussions have largely omitted considerations of the informal systems on which crisis-affected communities depend for support. We invite panelists to speak to this opportunity to expand the current aid-society relationship to include these informal support systems. Drawing on diverse case studies, panelists will discuss: Why do actions of affected community members and their social networks matter? What is the cost of failing to account for them in humanitarian response? What are the operational and institutional obstacles for humanitarian actors to meaningfully engage or complement informal social networks in complex and political environments?

Date(s) & Time(s)

November 5th, 2021
15:30 (GMT +1)
Room 21
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Organiser(s)

Jeeyon Kim, Alex Humphrey, Maha Elsamahi

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