Start Ready is a financing mechanism providing pre-positioned funding for predictable crises such as heatwaves, drought, and cyclones. Start Ready pools funding to cover different risks and hazards across a range of countries meaning that funding will be stretched further, thus protecting a larger number of people who are at risk. By pooling risks, compared to traditional humanitarian funding, Start Ready could protect up to three times as many people against predictable crises.
Start Ready was launched at COP26 in November 2021 with seven donors committed to funding (UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies, IKEA Foundation, Irish Aid, the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
To ensure sustainability of funds, and protect the pooled fund being exhausted too quickly, reinsurance has been purchased which will provide an additional layer of protection and coverage. This funding will mean protection of up to 280,000 people or the financial equivalent of up to £4.7m GBP.
In anticipation of the launch of this funding, we wanted to better understand some of the benefits and challenges of such funding in some of our Hub countries (Guatemala, Pakistan, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Pacific region). We spoke with 83 stakeholders in four of the five Start Network Hub countries to hear their thoughts on Start Ready. The sample looked at relevant stakeholders from different sectors in the country (INGOs, L/NNGOs, Universities/Academics, Government, Think Tanks, UN agencies) as we wanted to hear from voices we don’t usually speak to, hoping for some fresh perceptions from those who may know have known who Start Network is. Interviews were conducted with local consultants in each of the Hubs, who also support us in who we should be speaking to.
Stakeholders spoke positively about Start Ready, with many explaining how having prepositioned agile funding, or earmarked funding will shift the system from reactive to proactive, meaning actors will be able to respond to a greater number of crises, and protect a greater number of people.
Emergencies need to have agile funds, without so much bureaucracy, but you also need advance funds, which allow savings when an event occurs in contexts of risk. Government department, Guatemala
I think it will be a good way to promote funding in spaces where RPF is working as currently the process is long so having Start Ready pre-positioned funding and whether it is needed for response and a great way to ensure funds get there when disasters strikes. Making funding accessible and timely. Development network, Pacific
Reassurance of funding for local actors, some of which shared how finding consistent funding from donors for humanitarian crises, was noted to be a significant benefit for local organisations.
Add value to how we are currently responding. We are not a rapid response fund so this would enhance and create complementary synergies. We can fill out gap areas and complement other initiatives. Knowing the need out there, this will change the way and ability for partners to respond in a rapid fashion. Local organisation, Pacific
If the funding moves from the reactive level to the proactive level, this will make it possible to respond ideally and in a short time to the need encountered by most of our beneficiaries in real time and record. Social enterprise organisation, DRC
It will also give organisations the opportunity to be on the front foot with sectoral innovations. With anticipatory action being spoken about more in the sector, the opportunity to learn how this type of funding works with Start Network was considered a strong benefit for some stakeholders.
Start Ready has equal representation (50/50) of L/NNGOs and INGOs on the governance committee, with the chair being from a local organisation, and from the global south (chair and vice chair). Local governance committees from 2023 onwards will have equal representation of INGOs and L/NNGOs.
The empowerment of local and international stakeholders, including local authorities, on risk analysis and response formulation can also lead to an understanding of humanitarian situations and give them the capacity to reflect together with the interlocutors on how to resolve them. Chief, Local government, DRC
When the concept of localisation will be implemented, CSOs and NGOs working in Pakistan will go through rigorous capacity building in order to accommodate a new type of project like Start Ready, organizations will take a more foreign approach with the local context in mind when tackling any natural disaster. L/NNGO, Pakistan
What could be the potential barriers, and what are we doing about them?
Some of the stakeholders we spoke to had not heard of Start Ready before the interview and we asked ‘what could be the potential barriers?’. Many of these barriers were also concerns of Start Network, most of which have been addressed during the development of Start Ready.
The infographic shows this with challenges being centered around: inclusion and supporting local organisations; coordination of actors; accessbility; sustainability of funds.
Inclusion and supporting local organisations: We are ensuring inclusion and support L/NNGOs through regular sessions with members, e-learning courses, written materials, and accessing grants available.
Coordination of actors: Start Ready helps organisations develop their contingency plans. In the future, actors will be encouraged to work with community members to develop their contingency plans
Accessibility: Communication is not restricted to English, all written content is translated into French and Spanish, and interpreters for meetings.
Sustainability of funds: Fundraising is important to ensure the sustainability of funds. Anyone in the network can fundraise, which will help diversify the pool of funders.
In April 2022, applications opened for eligible countries (those that had established Disaster Risk Financing Systems). The Start Network team worked closely with country representatives to support the application process, a new process for everyone involved. The Start Ready governance committee discussed each application and was able to fund all seven countries. Funded countries and hazards are:
· Bangladesh: Flood
· The Democratic Republic of the Congo: Flood
· Pakistan: Heatwaves, Flood and Drought
· The Philippines: Cyclones
· Senegal: Drought
· Zimbabwe: Drought
Since Start Ready went live on May 1st, we have disbursed funding to two countries (Zimbabwe for drought, and Pakistan for Heatwave).
Zimbabwe funding has been awarded to five Start Network INGOs who will be implementing with a total of three national partner organisations between August-October. The assistance will deliver cash grants or in-kind food support.
Pakistan funding has been released to an INGO member. Some activities they will be carrying out over the next 45 days include establishing cooling shelters, providing training to community volunteers on emergency first aid management, and running awareness-raising campaigns.