Start Network members show off innovations in aid
Aid agencies to discuss humanitarian relief with Saudi relief centre
International aid agencies are to meet Saudi humanitarian officials in Riyadh this week to exchange ideas and experience of humanitarian action and discuss the principles behind it.
They will use a two-day innovation workshop hosted by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSRelief), set up by the Saudi government, to discuss improving crisis intervention, share understanding of humanitarian principles and explore potential future cooperation. The NGOs will present examples of innovative forms of humanitarian action drawn from their own experiences around the world.
The meeting will be jointly convened and facilitated by KSRelief and Start Network, a global network of aid agencies that together aim to transform the humanitarian system. Twelve Start Network members will take part, alongside a number of Saudi organisations, with a further contribution from the office of the UN High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR).
Sean Lowrie, director of the Start Network, said:
“The Middle East is a meeting place of cultures and perspectives from around the world. This important opportunity to connect with an organisation such as KSRelief on important issues around humanitarian aid work is very welcome. The dialogue will enable us to learn more about a new organisation that is increasingly active and engaged in aid delivery, and to develop mutual understanding of the humanitarian perspective and principles.
“Start Network’s member organisations are committed to support people of the region, including trying to work collectively and widely to influence and mitigate the causes of human suffering. The chance to engage with others who may have different perspectives and knowledge could open up new avenues of understanding that we are keen to grasp.”
Among innovative approaches to humanitarian aid that the agencies plan to share during the workshop are:
- Social innovation labs set up by Relief International in refugee camps in Jordan, where communities, in particular children and young people, come up with new ways to address some of their needs.
- Humanitarian technology such as Bluetooth devices, developed by International Medical Corps in partnership with the private sector, that monitor the vital signs of patients with highly contagious diseases and transmit them to equipment up to 100 feet away.
- Disaster risk reduction work by Islamic Relief that has used Islamic microfinance to empower women, and an inclusivity tool to ensure that programmes support people with disabilities and are sensitive to gender.
KSRelief was set up in 2015 to bring Saudi humanitarian aid efforts under one roof, with the stated aim of making it better coordinated and more effective. Last year Saudi Arabia was the world’s 11th largest humanitarian donor and spent $358 million on emergency aid, according to UN OCHA’s financial tracking service.
Member agencies taking part in the Riyadh workshop are: CARE International; Christian Aid; Handicap International; International Medical Corps; International Rescue Committee; Islamic Relief; Mercy Corps; Muslim Aid; Norwegian Refugee Council; Oxfam; Relief International; Save the Children