Marking a decade of positive disruption

I am delighted to present to you A Decade of Positive Disruption, a celebration of ten years of Start Network achievements and impacts on its 10-year anniversary.


Time to read: 5 minutes

I am delighted to present to you A Decade of Positive Disruption, a celebration of ten years of Start Network’s achievements and impacts on its 10-year anniversary. It is a testament to the network’s diversity and reach, as told through the insights and stories from more than 60 contributors from around the world, who have engaged with Start Network in some way.

As you will see, the story of Start Network is that of a decade of challenging the conventional practices, behaviours and habits of a century-old sector in order to bring bold thinking, brave solutions, and positive alternatives to humanitarian aid.

We challenged the status quo by discarding outdated labels, concepts and practices that have set up unhelpful divides between aid organisations, in favour of enabling a collective and equitable space and embracing a diversity of voices, perspectives, and expertise.

We challenged the status quo, by upending the humanitarian financing model to deliver faster emergency aid and more flexible financing options, importantly to those smaller, forgotten crises and communities that elude global attention and resources. We enabled early action by demonstrating with evidence and achievement that an earlier, more proactive response is more effective and more sustainable. And we’ve learned by doing that improving community preparedness means less loss and less suffering.

We challenged the status quo by eschewing destructive, competitive relationships among aid organisations and incentivising collaboration around a common purpose and collective action to solve systemic problems.

We challenged the status quo by recognising as peripheral our own role as a London-based headquarters, shifting resources and decision-making to those closest to the ground and enabling direct connections between those who have materials, skills, time and proximity to those who need their help.

We challenged the status quo by putting local humanitarian action at the centre of this discussion and catalysed change across the system a realignment of power, resources, and share of voice around those best placed to help.

Looking ahead, Start Network and its members are facing a very different future than we might have envisioned a decade ago — or even last year. The dire circumstances of our damaged climate, our fragile health systems, our wilting economies, and our divided societies now force us to rethink the fundamentals of the way we operate and position ourselves.

COVID-19 has demonstrated that local and community-based interventions are key to stopping the spread of the disease while exposing the hypocrisy in the international aid system, which turned away from its localisation commitments at the very time it should have been leaning into them. The Black Lives Matter movement has surfaced latent racism, colonialism, and power inequalities between the sector’s power holders and those that assume the risk of humanitarian operations. The accelerating climate crisis has now become a literal burning platform that requires us to better understand climate risk and prioritise prevention and early action. And declining ODA in most donor economies is forcing many international aid organisations to rethink their role priorities and global footprint.

Indeed, from where we stand today, the challenges of the next 10 years throw down an important gauntlet for us as a network. It challenges us more to showcase the strength of our membership, now 53 international, national and local organisations with exceptional expertise and reach. It forces us to do more to convince politicians and power holders that anticipation and early action can moderate the effects of our changing climate and slow the spread of disease. It tests our resolve and commitment to ‘localisation’ and, spurred on by our emerging hubs, compels us to accelerate both the technical and transformational side of decentralisation and power shifts. At such a pivotal time, our decade of experience as a positive disruptor, backed by the courage of our convictions, should serve us well.

Will 2020 be a defining moment for our network for the next ten years? Or will it be yet another time when we shrug our shoulders and repeat, ‘never again’. Well, that’s up to us…

Read our online publication: A Decade of Positive Disruption

We thank all of the contributors…

  • Muhammad Amad Pakistan IDEA
  • Davide Zappa UK DFID
  • Catalina Jaime UK Red Cross Climate Centre
  • Emilie Vautravers Cameroon Solidarités International
  • Kristen Knutson Aisa-Pacific OCHA
  • Oenone Chadburn UK Tearfund
  • Imamul Shahi Bangladesh BRAC
  • Monday Itoghor Nigeria Environmental and Rural Mediation Centre (ENVIRUMEDIC)
  • Gang Karume Augustin DRC Rebuild Hope for Africa
  • Jahin Shams Sakkhar Bangladesh Uttaran
  • Manu Gupta India SEEDS
  • Conor Molloy Ethiopia CAFOD, SCIAF & Trócaire [CST]
  • Jean Mukenga Cameroon International Medical Corps
  • Alexandra Rüth Ethiopia Deutsches Rotes Kreuz (German Red Cross)
  • Ashraful Haque Bangladesh FOREWARN Coordinator, hosted by the International Centre for Climate Change and Development
  • Soane Patolo Tonga MORDI Tonga
  • Mir Alif Reza Bangladesh Satkhira Local Government Office
  • Tarik Oufkir Morocco Association Maroc Solidarité Médico-Sociale
  • Bereket Tassew Ethiopia Wolaita Kale Hewot Church Terepeza Development Association
  • Francis Atul Sarker Bangladesh Caritas Bangladesh
  • Normann Steinmaier Germany Deutsche Welthungerhilfe
  • Angelo Melencio Philipines Plan international
  • Jeremy Wellard Thailand ICVA
  • Anna Skeels UK Elrha
  • Hara Caracostas Tunisia Danish Refugee Council
  • Marian Casey-Maslen UK CDAC
  • Eva Kaplan Middle east IRC
  • Sengpor Lao Laos CARE
  • Lynn Walker Zimbabwe Tree of Life
  • Rabia Sabri Pakistan Community World Service Asia
  • Naser Haghamed UK Islamic Relief Worldwide
  • Lodovica Tranchini Tunisia Danish Refugee Council
  • Clemens Gros Germany Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre
  • Kazi Amdadul Hoque Bangladesh Friendship
  • Masi Latianara Fiji Habitat for Humanity
  • Ja Nu Myanmar Metta Development Foundation
  • Mel Phadtare UK Global Chaos Map Team, Anglia Ruskin University and FOREWARN member
  • Emily Hockenhull UK Action Against Hunger
  • Olivier Koch-Mathian Philipines ACTED
  • Caroline Burrage US TechSoup
  • Duke Ivn Amin Bangladesh JAGO NARI
  • Sana Zulfiquar Pakistan National Humanitarian Network
  • Antoinette Chibi Senegal World Vision
  • Aisha Jamshad Pakistan Welthungerhilfe
  • Cedric Daep Philippines Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office/Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office
  • Benedict Balderrama The Philippines SAFER
  • Yitna Tekaligne Ethiopia Chrisitan Aid
  • Yusuf Hussein Ibrahim Somalia Adeso
  • Jane Kigen Kenya ActionAid
  • Michael Mosselmans UK Chrisitan Aid
  • Henry Glorieux Bangladesh Office of the UN Resident Coordinator
  • Elisa Claessens Tunisia Terre d’Asile Tunisie
  • Andrew Kavala Malawi MANEPO
  • Patrick Katelo Issako Kenya PACIDA
  • Jorge Andrés Giraldo López Colombia COCOMACIA
  • Hugo Icu Guatemala ASECSA
  • Diluksion Francis Sri Lanka Oxfam
  • Alice Obrecht UK ALNAP
  • Tirtha Prasad Saikia India NEADS
  • Nanise Volau Oceania PIANGO
  • Jennifer Poidatz South Sudan CRS
  • Abril Páez Mexico CADENA