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A new era of humanitarian action


Start Fund: Tropical storm response, Somalia, 2018

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About us

A new era of humanitarian action

Start Network is made up of more than 50 aid agencies across five continents, ranging from large international organisations to national NGOs. Together, our aim is to transform humanitarian action through innovation, fast funding, early action, and localisation.
We're tackling what we believe are the biggest systemic problems that the sector faces - problems including slow and reactive funding, centralised decision-making, and an aversion to change, means that people affected by crises around the world, do not receive the best help fast enough, and needless suffering results.
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We believe that a more balanced international aid system, which shifts power to those closest to the front-line, will generate more effective and appropriate responses for people affected by crises.

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New froms of financing

New forms of financing

Our pooled funds enable fast and early action to tackle the kind of crises that are often overlooked by other funding mechanisms. Our risk financing pilots are introducing new ways of working that can save even more lives.

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Collective innovation

New ways of working are needed to tackle the challenges we face. By innovating collectively we can share expertise, insights and perspectives to shape a more effective humanitarian system.

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An international network

Today the Start Network extends to over 40 members and their 7000 partner organisations, employing more than a quarter of a million people across 200 countries and territories.
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Latest news

News Article

German Federal Foreign Office supports innovative programme for early humanitarian action

The German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO) has announced its support of €4.5 million for a programme of activities that will embed early humanitarian action across a global network of NGOs.


Blog Post

10 things Start Network did in its 10th year

2020 was an eventful year, it was also Start Network's 10 year anniversary. Here we look back at 10 things Start Network did in its 10th year.


News Article

MERF ends after providing assistance to more than 175,000 people

After more than three years, the Start Network’s Migration Emergency Response Fund (MERF) has closed. The fund was set up to address the unpredictable nature of the mixed migration context across the Mediterranean and rapidly respond to new or emerging needs. It also aimed to improve the effectiveness and understanding of migration responses and trends.


Blog Post

Mulling over the MERF programme

Melina joined the Start Network in 2016. Before this she had been working with the International Rescue Committee in Mali as their grants manager, and this is where she had her first experience with the Start Network through two initiatives. The first was a Start Fund Alert (Alert 36) in response to internal displacement and the second was Start Response Ebola Preparedness Programme. Both these introduced Melina to very different ways of working with rapid and collaborative decision-making processes and implementation in just 45 days. Soon after, she joined the Start Network as a Start Fund Programme Officer establishing the Start Fund Regional Advisor roles as well as leading on a growing number of alerts, before moving to the Migration Emergency Response Fund (MERF) in 2018 first as the Regional Coordinator based out of Tunis and then as the Programme Manager. She joined MERF as it started its second phase and here reflects on some of the learnings along the way.  


Latest resources


Start Fund COVID-19: An Overview

As the COVID-19 pandemic started to spread and affect countries and communities all around the world, Start Network recognised the importance of utilising the experience of its members to manage and support responses to critical COVID-19-related humanitarian needs. As a result, a COVID-19 context-specific rapid response fund was established, drawing from the principles and best practices of the global Start Fund.



Knowledge, attitude and practice around heatwaves in Karachi, following a forecast-based heatwave messaging project.

The humanitarian impact of extreme heat is an increasing concern, especially in low-income countries with limited access to quality healthcare and informal dwellings which can trap heat. This report analyses the knowledge, attitude and practice of Karachi residents in relation to managing extreme heat. It was conducted in 2020 following a messaging campaign led by HANDS related to extreme heat. The project was triggered through a disaster risk financing approach, using a heatwave model to trigger funding automatically when extreme heat was forecast.



Review of Start Network's role in the current global response to COVID-19

Start Fund COVID-19, a funding mechanism created by Start Network, aims to provide anticipatory and rapid funding for local-level responses to the COVID-19 pandemic before larger funding instruments are available. Anticipation and early action to localised COVID-19 emergencies is critical to minimise the occurrence and impact of outbreaks in communities who are living in vulnerable contexts. By taking pre-emptive action and reducing the response time for emerging needs, the spread of the pandemic can be slowed, and its impact reduced – particularly in the poorest and most vulnerable places.



Start Financing Facility: Quantitative analysis of risk pooling

Start Network is working to provide more effective and efficient financing models for humanitarian aid. Specifically, to enable a predictable continuum of funding for when risks of different scale and severity start to materialise. This report, commissioned from the UK Government Actuary Department, provides technical advice around the funding of the Start Financing Facility (SFF). In particular, by providing a theoretical illustration of the financial implications of pooling a number of risks into a central risk pool. The paper investigates how the number, frequency and size of the risks will affect the demands on the central risk pool, and highlights options for the financial management of the pool.



The Network

Start Network members