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Crisis Response and Resilience Lab

Complexity University, in partnership with Start Network & The Global Fund for Community Foundations (GFCF) is introducing a unique, radical, action-focused innovation programme for community-led impact in the aid sector. The Crisis Response & Resilience Lab is a 2-week intensive action-learning programme. Teams and individuals are invited to join a collective re-envisioning, based on group wisdom, experimentation and action-learning.

4th - 15th October 2021 | 5 x 90 min sessions per week 


The humanitarian sector is in need of transformation. How can we work together to design, test and practice a way of responding that is more fit for purpose, and crucially more effective? How can we work together to transform the international humanitarian aid sector from the ground up?

Three concepts will form the core scope of the Crisis Response & Resilience Lab:

  • Putting communities at the heart of response and long-term development processes
  • Primacy of local actors.
  • Rigidity and bureaucracy of the system


Conflicts, extreme weather events, droughts, earthquakes and, most recently, COVID-19… communities around the world are facing increasingly complex crises, yet the international aid sector is failing to deliver on their needs. Top-down, bureaucratic, and riven with asymmetries in power between Global North and South - the humanitarian aid and development system is centred around a business model which is biased towards Western actors and UN agencies (funded primarily by Western donors).

Local actors and the crisis-affected communities in which they are based are frequently omitted from resource flows, decision-making and structural efforts to change the system.

The system is widely recognised as inefficient, under-delivering the impact it’s charged to create and slow to adapt. The cost of this failure is carried by crisis-affected people who receive inadequate or inappropriate aid after crises and aren’t well enough supported to build their resilience to crises. At the same time, new ways of deciding and doing are emerging from the ground up - often outside the framework of “humanitarian aid” or “localisation”.

These emerging practices are closer and more relevant to the communities they serve. They emphasise the role of local resources, grassroots grant-making and participatory decision-making in shifting power - and stand to play a vital role in reaching and mobilising communities.

The full cost is $199 per person but Start Network has a number of funded places to offer to full or partial teams from its member organisations, hubs and platform staff to participate in this initiative.

If you're interested in joining, please contact Hannah Reichardt.


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