Learning sessions and webinars organized by the International Association of Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Protection open to members and the wider humanitarian community.
The impact of bank de-risking on humanitarian action
Over the last few years the issue of “bank de-risking” has increasingly impacted the ability of humanitarian NGOs to safely and effectively transfer funds to programmes where people are most in need. While bank de-risking can affect the operations of any type of organization, humanitarian organizations are particularly affected due to the nature of their work and the contexts in which they operate.
Often related to compliance with counter-terrorism measures, bank de-risking measures by financial institutions manifest themselves to humanitarian organizations in the form of refused transactions, closed accounts, or other restrictions. While bank de-risking issues for humanitarian organizations have to a large degree concerned money transfers to operations in fragile countries, there are more and more examples of humanitarian organisations facing difficulties transferring funds even at the headquarters level. Humanitarian organisations have to resort to transferring money in risky ways in order to preserve programme continuity, thus bank de-risking practices can increase the risks of fraud, security, compliance and lack of transparency.
An opaque banking system which has limited accountability to humanitarian organisations and their principles leave little to be done for individual organisations in term of appealing or objecting to what sometimes seem like arbitrary decisions. Bank de-risking is lacking research and advocacy since most organisations avoid discussing how it affects them. This is why humanitarian organisations need to step up both the management of this risk and common advocacy towards both donors and financial regulators.
On 22 October, ICVA and PHAP organized a webinar focusing on bank de-risking and its impact on humanitarian action. Following an introductory briefing, we discussed with a panel of experts the practical challenges faced by humanitarian NGOs and how to approach this issue from a risk management perspective.
Read more about the event at https://phap.org/22oct2020
Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in the COVID-19 Response: Applying the IASC Guidelines
While the COVID-19 pandemic is seriously affecting the health, livelihoods, and overall wellbeing of people all over the world, persons with disabilities are disproportionately impacted. The risk factors and consequences of COVID-19 on people with disabilities are even further exacerbated in humanitarian contexts. Persons with disabilities may be at heightened risk of contracting or developing a more severe case of COVID-19 due to barriers to accessing information, preventative measures and health services, while some people may be at heightened risk due to underlying health conditions or reliance on personal assistance. Further, COVID-19 has compounded exclusion of children with disabilities from education; increased risks of violence, exploitation and abuse; and deepened other pre-existing inequalities and marginalization.
To address this situation, how can we ensure that persons with disabilities are included in all aspects of response to COVID-19 in humanitarian contexts? On 17 September, during a webinar organized jointly by ICVA, PHAP, IASC, and the Reference Group on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action, we discussed how the IASC Guidelines on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action can be implemented in the COVID-19 response. We started with a presentation of the recent note produced by the Reference Group and endorsed by the IASC on this topic, followed by a discussion of challenges in the current response and ways to overcome them.
The webinar shared practical examples of how response to COVID-19 in humanitarian contexts has been made more inclusive of persons with disabilities, drawing on learning from the past 6+ months to present concrete actions that humanitarian actors can take, in partnership with local organizations of persons with disabilities. The webinar aimed to provide a space for learning and exchange of experience between organizations of persons with disabilities, NGOs, UN entities, and other humanitarian actors.
Read more and access resources at https://phap.org/17sep2020
Make or break: The implications of COVID-19 for crisis financing
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated challenges for humanitarian work across the globe, including for how emergency response is being funded, providing a real-time “stress test” on financing systems. At the same time, stakeholders have been taking stock of the progress made under the Grand Bargain humanitarian financing reforms and considering priorities for future reform agendas. To examine what the pandemic response tells us of the fitness of the international crisis financing system, the Norwegian Refugee Council commissioned a study – a “think piece” looking at what can be learned from the current situation, even though the pandemic and our response to it are still in an early stage.
To help stimulate reflection and debate on the future of humanitarian financing and to launch this study, NRC and PHAP organized a webinar on 15 September. We heard about the main findings and recommendations emerging from NRC’s study. This set the stage for a panel discussion on the role and fitness of the existing humanitarian financing structure and on how the system should evolve to be able to respond to crises of this complexity.
Read more at https://phap.org/15sep2020
Balancing risk appetite and risk tolerance in humanitarian operations
Read more and access resources at https://phap.org/8sep2020
Understanding and appropriately applying the concepts of risk tolerance and risk appetite is crucial for humanitarian organizations to ensure that they are operating within their ability to manage risk. Humanitarian action is taking place in inherently high-risk environments and humanitarian organizations are often under pressure to take on most of that risk under the current structure of funding agreements. The concepts of risk tolerance and risk appetite are particularly important for humanitarian actors to understand in order to shift from the current state of risk transfer in funding agreements to a more equitable sharing of risks among stakeholders in humanitarian operations.
On 8 September, ICVA and PHAP had a webinar focusing on the twin concepts of risk tolerance and risk appetite. Following an introductory briefing on these concepts, we discussed with a panel of experts the practical challenges in identifying risk appetite and tolerance for NGOs. This was the second event of the Learning Stream on Risk Management in Practice, aimed at exploring the current state of risk management in the humanitarian sector.
Managing camps in diverse contexts
Read more and access resources at https://phap.org/9sep2020
Many humanitarian emergencies result in large-scale displacement, whether short-term or over many years. Although they should be seen as a last resort, camps and other communal settlements are often at the center of humanitarian response, as that is where those with the greatest needs are concentrated. Given this central focus for humanitarian action, what kind of benchmarks and standards can those managing camps and camp-like settings use as a reference point in their work? While standards exist for many of the technical areas that come together in a camp setting, the same has not been the case for the work of Camp Managers, who are responsible for coordinating the delivery of protection and assistance in such settings.
This was the starting point for the development of the Camp Management Standards, which have been developed by the CCCM Cluster over the past years through consultations with camp managers and residents. On 9 September, we held a webinar clinic and learned more about the challenges faced in camp management and how the draft Camp Management Standards can help to address these. We heard from experienced Camp Managers who discussed how to address practical challenges submitted by event registrants.
The webinar also launched an online consultation survey for humanitarian practitioners to provide their views on the final draft of the Standards.
Coordinating access for humanitarian protection
In most crisis response contexts, multiple protection actors are seeking to access affected populations. As humanitarian actors are interdependent, with the actions of one affecting all other actors in a response context, they often face situations where there are coordination challenges related to access and protection.
On 25 June, PHAP, NRC, and the GPC organized the fourth session of the webinar series on access and protection, which focused on issues related to coordinated negotiations and approaches to access – including the use of armed escorts, civil-military coordination, and coordination with peacekeeping missions – and how these relate to protection.
More information about this event at https://phap.org/25jun2020