Start Fund responds to 100th crisis alert
Helping victims of floods in Bangladesh
The Start Fund has responded to its 100th emergency alert in just over two years by sending urgent help to victims of flooding in Bangladesh.
Nearly 2 million people across 16 districts of Bangladesh have been affected by the monsoon-induced floods. 42 deaths have been recorded and approximately 180,000 houses have been destroyed or damaged. The people affected are in need of food, water and emergency shelter. More than 300,000 people are now stranded in Shariatpur and Faridpur provinces.
The decision by the Start Fund, a rapid response fund with members on five continents, means £500,000 is now available to assist those affected. Projects aiming to reach just under 45,000 people, by CARE, Caritas Bangladesh, Save the Children and a consortium including Christian Aid, Action Against Hunger and Muslim Aid, will begin today.
Save the Children’s expertise in cash programming will enable people to buy the things they need. CARE and the consortium including Christian Aid, Action Against Hunger and Muslim Aid will provide dry food and tarpaulins to communities that might not otherwise be reached. Caritas Bangladesh will reach particularly vulnerable people, including pregnant and lactating women, people with disabilities and the elderly.
The alert was raised on 1 August when staff of CARE decided that the Start Fund’s ability to respond within 72 hours was needed to meet the basic needs of people affected. Under the Start Fund’s uniquely fast decision-making process, member agencies agreed within 24 hours to fund the intervention. Following this decision, a local committee, made up of members of the Network met yesterday in Dhaka to select the projects that would be funded - less than 72 hours after the alert.
Cat Sneath, manager of the Start Fund, which was launched in 2014 and is supported by British, Irish and Dutch governments, 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. Our one hundredth alert signals the scale of humanitarian crises happening all over the world, many of which happen under the radar. This crisis is no exception. It signals the need for the Start Fund.”
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.
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.
The fund comes under the umbrella of the Start Network, whose ambition is to change the current system of international humanitarian aid.
Start Network’s director, Sean Lowrie, said:
“We are a growing movement of 39 agencies from across five continents with a shared belief that the current system is not fit for purpose. Our vision is to transform that system for the better, and the success of the innovative Start Fund shows one way that can be achieved.
“Start Network is proving by its own interventions that aid can be delivered faster, better, and more efficiently by thinking, deciding and working together.”