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Start Fund awarded responses: September

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September saw the Start Fund respond on a global level to seven alerts, awarding just under £1.5million to rapid responses to fires, flooding, earthquakes, and displacement alerts. October also saw awards made in countries that have not previously had much interaction with the Start Fund – with funds allocated for the first time to alerts in Haiti and Bolivia.

Flooding in Mali (Alert 352)

Alerting agencies: Islamic Relief, Plan International, and Solidarités International.

Awarded agencies: Action Against Hunger, Islamic Relief, and Plan International for a total of £325,489.

The Start Fund activation   

  • The alert was deemed to be timely and was informed by agency-led needs assessment.
  • The complementarity of other responses was positive, as well as the need for a comprehensive response in advance of winter

Mopti and Segou – two of the regions most severely impacted by the flooding – have among the highest populations of IDPs in Mali – approximately 80,000, which represents roughly 75% of Mali’s IDP population. Since the beginning of the year, the IDP population in Segou has more than tripled, following a spike in intercommunal tension – which compounds the pre-existing humanitarian needs.

Flooding in Burundi (Alert 354)

Alerting agencies: Tearfund

Awarded agencies: Tearfund for a total of £79,767.  

The Start Fund activation

  • The lack of information available for this alert made this a difficult decision for the allocation committee, with questions surrounding the number of people impacted.
  • The committee did recognise, however, that following the Needs Assessment by the NGO in Burundi, it was necessary to activate.

The impact on flooding and heavy rains on the Mutaho province of Burundi was not limited to destruction and damage to shelters, but extended also to the sanitation and WASH equipment in use. Heavy flooding – causing latrines, septic tanks, and sewers to overflow – often contributes to a heightened possibility for cholera; this is a particularly concerning situation since a cholera epidemic was declared in several health districts over the June – August period.

Wildfires in Bolivia (Alert 355)

Alerting agencies: Christian Aid, Humanity & Inclusion, Oxfam, Plan International, and Save the Children.

Awarded agencies: Plan International (in consortium) for a total of £138,140.

The Start Fund activation

  • The distinction between the high level of attention that the wildfires garnered through the media, and the relatively low level of attention that the subsequent humanitarian needs garnered, was a major factor in the activation of this alert.

While forest fires occur in Bolivia every year, a decree made in July 2019 increased the amount of controlled burning allowed by farmers, from five hectares a year to twenty. It is perceived that this change in regulations has contributed to the vast extent of fires seen this year, which is particularly impactful for indigenous populations of the Chiquitano forest.

Displacement due to conflict in the CAR (Alert 357)

Alerting agencies: War Child

Awarded agencies: War Child, for a total of £110,787.

 The Start Fund activation

  • While strong technically, the alert note prompted questions of continued access and security due to this being a spike in a longer-term protracted crisis. 

The affected community in Birao is especially remote and has limited humanitarian access; this was aggravated due to heavy rains which caused most roads into and out of Birao to be blocked. Further fighting between the Mouvement des Libérateurs  Centrafricains  pour  la  Justice  (MLCJ) and  the  Front  Populaire pour  la Renaissance de la Centrafrique (FPRC) would also complicate humanitarian access and activities.

Fire in DRC (Alert 359)

Alerting agencies: CAFOD and Christian Aid

Awarded agencies: Christian Aid for £190,000.

The Start Fund activation

  • The recurrent nature of fires in this part of Bukavu was perceived as emphasising the need for preventative programming to be included in any response – however due to the high level of need (which was likely to be exacerbated by the rainy season), the activation decision was unanimous.

Much of the recurrent nature of these fires can be attributed to the overcrowded spaces and weak urbanisation standards, with houses in very populated neighbourhoods built in close proximity to each other. Narrow spaces also impede access for fire response, and facilitates the spread of fire – as does the use of wood coated in motor oil (an insect deterrent) for house construction.

Earthquake in Pakistan (Alert 361)

 Alerting agencies: ACTED, Care International, Community World Service Asia, Humanity & Inclusion, HelpAge International, International Medical Corps, Islamic Relief, Mercy Corps, Muslim Aid, Oxfam, Relief International, Save the Children, Tearfund, and Welthungerhilfe.

Awarded agencies: ACTED (in consortium) for a total of £399,999.

The Start Fund activation 

  • While the government was publicly responding, the information from the membership indicated that this was slower and less comprehensive than needed; in order to allow a governmental focus on infrastructure, the Start Fund was considered a good way to provide short-term support.

Humanitarian situations in Pakistan can easily be underestimated for several reasons; among these are that the Government of Pakistan is reluctant to issue appeals for international assistance beyond its capacity. Due to aggravating environmental factors, furthermore, gaps and discrepancies in needs assessments often appear – likely due to timing and accessibility of affected areas.  

Flooding in Haiti (Alert 362)

 Alerting agencies: Action Aid and World Jewish Relief.

Awarded agencies: Action Aid and World Jewish Relief for a total of £86,496.

The Start Fund activation

  • The decision to activate was made easier due to not only the inadequate response capacity from Civil Protection, but also the risk of escalation in needs if no response was provided.
  • The timeliness of the alert could have been improved, and the cost per beneficiary was deemed to be higher than usual; the multiplicity of humanitarian factors at play in Haiti, however, was a convincing factor in the unanimous activation of this alert.

More than 40% of employment in the country is accounted for by the agricultural sector; the damage to food supplies, therefore, could increase levels of food insecurity – especially as the hurricane season is anticipated to continue until end of November. The recent spike in social unrest in Haiti, furthermore, provided potential challenges for the responding agencies, as well as further economic and food instability.

Read more about the Start Fund here.​

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  • by Lucretia Puentes