YAM at the Humanitarian Summit, South Africa

The World Humanitarian Summit regional consultation for Eastern and Southern Africa was held in Pretoria, South Africa, from 27-29 October 2014.

It was co-hosted by the Government of South Africa, the Government of Ethiopia and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and sponsored by the Government of Norway.

The consultation was co-chaired by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the Southern African Development Community and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The meeting was preceded by preparatory stakeholder consultations with 3286 individuals representing their wider constituencies. The meeting brought together 170 participants from 23 countries in the two sub-regions representing Member States, local, national and regional civil society organizations, Botswana being one of them, affected communities, United Nations agencies, the private sector and academia. The Botswana Family Welfare Association (BOFWA) was represented by YAM Vice President Kagoyarona Kakanyo.

Participants voiced their appreciation to the co-chairs and Regional Steering Group members for an inclusive and consultative process consisting of broad stakeholder consultations and the subsequent regional consultation meeting in South Africa. Participants agreed that the meeting in Pretoria constituted not the end of the region’s engagement with the World Humanitarian Summit, but the beginning.

The summit was divided into affecting areas being and structured: Humanitarian Effectiveness: Preparedness and response should fit the type and context of the humanitarian situation. It should be needs based and informed by priorities identified by communities themselves.

Humanitarian actors should be accountable to the communities they aim to serve. Accountability should be measurable against predetermined standards.

The role of national and local governments should be strengthened and complemented through legal frameworks that formalize roles and responsibilities and specialized support to build professional and institutional capacity where necessary.
Financing for humanitarian action should be made more flexible to needs in different contexts, timely predictable, transparent, channeled to the local level, and some situations- notably protracted crises-multi-year, in order to meaningfully address underlying factors.

This includes better translating local knowledge and experience. Emphasis should be given to better understanding future risks, such as the impact of climate change, as well as preparing for unexpected shocks, such as Ebola.

Local governments and civil society should be supported to address the rising humanitarian risk and new challenges in urban areas, including through strengthened partnerships in knowledge sharing, resource mobilization, urban vulnerability  mapping.Efforts should be made to build countries capacities to manage rapid onset crises, like flooding and tropical storms, including making sure early warning mechanisms trigger early humanitarian action.

Opportunities should be explored for building the resilience of communities in protracted conflict-affected environments. New approaches should be developed to build the resilience of communities facing predictable and recurrent drought and food insecurity, bringing together both humanitarian and development planning and financing.

The protection needs of women, girls, boys and men as well as any groups or individuals with specific needs should be addressed in conflict situations. Humanitarian principles and the notion of “do no harm” should be adhered to when operating in conflict situations, including when negotiating with armed actors.

The main recommendations articulated by participants were:

Reinforcing states’ duty to address urgent humanitarian needs and to protect, as well as be accountable to affected communities: Strengthening government leadership with appropriate legal frameworks that articulate roles and responsibilities, and accountability at the local and national levels.

Empowering affected communities by strengthening their resilience to withstand shocks: Engaging affected communities in the identification of underlying risk and designing programmes to address them;

Harnessing the comparative advantage of the private sector for humanitarian innovation: Establishing an Africa innovation fund to build the infrastructure, such as technical hubs, to stimulate humanitarian innovation. Allocating a percentage of the budget of each international humanitarian response to build local preparedness capacities.

Promoting the role of youth in humanitarian affairs: Supporting youth in educating and sensitizing their peers on the importance of non-violence and respect to women and girls; Encouraging youth to advocate for social and humanitarian issues using social media. Building linkages between governments, humanitarian agencies and youth networks to explore practical ways that youth can support humanitarian and development agendas.

The upcoming final summit will convene the first-ever global humanitarian summit of this scale in Istanbul, Turkey in 2016. The goal of the summit is to find new ways to tackle humanitarian needs in our fast-changing world.