How the Start Fund is enabling faster and more coordinated humanitarian response
This year World Humanitarian Day is focusing on how the world came together in Istanbul in May to commit to helping 130 million people currently in need of humanitarian assistance. So today, we take a look at how the Start Fund is helping to enable more effective humanitarian response.
On 22 May this year the Start Fund was alerted by Christian Aid to a cyclone which the day before hit the coast of Bangladesh affecting 1 million people.
Tropical Cyclone Roanu hit the southern coastal districts of Bangladesh, bringing heavy rain, winds of up to 88km per hour, and storm surges of up to 2m. At least 24 people were killed initially and 85,000 structures, including homes and shops, were destroyed or damaged. 500,000 people were evacuated and an estimated 1 million people were affected in total.
Under the Start Fund’s uniquely fast decision-making process, member agencies agreed within 24 hours to fund a response. Following this decision, a local committee, made up of members of the Network met in Dhaka to select the projects that would be funded - less than 72 hours after the alert.
Action Against Hunger, Save the Children and a consortium project including Christian Aid, Oxfam and Concern Worldwide, were funded for a total of £496,512. All three projects began implementing within a week, faster than they would have been able through other funding mechanisms.
Cat Sneath, manager of the Start Fund said:
“Speed is everything to save lives when a crisis hits. Working together as a network of thousands of humanitarians, we are able to share information and respond early – from flooding, to displacement, to outbreaks of violence. Rather than looking within one organisation or to one donor for the answers, we are able to make joint decisions based on collective local knowledge.”
— ACF-Bangladesh (@ACFBangladesh) June 27, 2016
Christian Aid, Oxfam and Concern Worldwide came together in a consortium because each was working with the poorest and most excluded communities. Joint needs assessments and a collaboratively designed response helped to establish a shared understanding of the need on the ground and what each agency could do and where, maximising the impact of the project. Joint procurement also helped to maximise the use of resources. There was also good coordination with the other implementing agencies, Action Against Hunger and Save the Children, at both the capital and local level. As a result there was no overlapping during the response.
— Christian Aid (@christian_aid) June 9, 2016
— YEESHU SHUKLA (@yeeshushukla) June 10, 2016
Start Fund’s unique structure and rules mean it can respond to emergencies:
- More quickly: funds are disbursed within 72 hours of an alert, compared with an average of 17 days for NGOs operating alone
- Earlier in a crisis: it can intervene at the first signs a crisis is developing, using its members’ detailed knowledge on the ground and drawing on its standing pool of funds
- More collaboratively, with member agencies sharing expertise to make informed decisions drawing on their own knowledge and experience.
Since its inception in 2014, the Start Fund has received more than 100 alerts to small and medium scale crises around the world. Decisions on whether to allocate aid from the Start Fund are taken collectively by 39 members of the Start Network, who range from some of the best-known international NGOs to smaller and more local humanitarian agencies.
The Start Fund is supported by UK aid and the Dutch and Irish governments.
A case study highlighting people helped by Action Against Hunger’s response - Khorshida now feels safe in her home
Khorshida is 38 and lives in Matarbari union, Moheshkhali upazilla, Cox’s Bazar with her sick and disabled husband and their four children.
Before the cyclone hit, Khorshida decided to move her family to a safe shelter but on their return their home was badly damaged and she had no way to pay for the repair the house.
Khorshida was able to access much need support through Action Against Hunger’s response - BDT 4,000 (approximately £35) in cash and a hygiene kit. She spent BDT 3000 to repair her house and with the remaining money, she purchased food for her family.
During her interview, Khorshida said: “I am so grateful for the assistance. Now we can live in our house. I feel secured after repairing my house. I feel much less vulnerable than before and can go to sleep feeling safe.”