Beyond survival: understanding protracted crises through wellbeing

Panel details

Panel organiser(s) will be presenting In-Person & Online
Number of paper presentations 3


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Regardless of their circumstances, people strive not just to exist, but to live, in ways that they believe have meaning and value. This is as true for people experiencing crises as anyone else, but humanitarian aid tends to focus largely on meeting the biological and economic requirements of keeping people alive. Humanitarian actors remain largely unable to think beyond basic survival and neglect agency and aspirations. While such a narrow focus on survival may be necessary at the outset, it becomes more problematic as humanitarian responses drag on years or even decades, with aid actors’ decisions impacting not just if people survive but the kinds of lives they are able to live. Parts of the human experience that are vitally important to people—sex and intimacy, death and mourning, leisure and social connections, a sense of home or of belonging—side-lined as “out of scope”, rendering the experience of aid dehumanising and disempowering. This panel will interrogate how humanitarian action in protracted crises can move beyond narrow understandings of basic needs, embracing a more holistic vision of people’s wellbeing and how to support it, and explore what alternative humanitarian action grounded in love, solidarity, and social justice could look like.

Paper presentations

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