The Forum on Localizing Humanitarian Need

Colombo, Sri Lanka Photo: Anna Jedynak 


I had the privilege of representing the WACC Global at the Forum on Localizing Humanitarian Need: a The Role of Faith Leaders & Faith-based organisation, which was held in Colombo from 16th-18th October 2017. This forum is organized by the local host committee in collaboration with international planning committee with support from GHR Foundation, USAID, World Vision, Islamic Relief USA, Church of Sweden, KAICIID Dialogue Centre, ADRA International, Episcopal Relief and  Development, Soka Gakkai, FINN Church and Act Alliance, Religions for Peace,  and World Evangelical Alliance. The forum had 143 participants from over 36 countries around the world ranging from Diplomatic Missions, INGOs, NGOs, and Local Actors, Inter-governmental and Religious leaders. The discussions revolved around key topics relating to Humanitarian Need and how faith can play a significant role in addressing them. 

In the three-day event, more than 50 different panellists from all over the world, presented challenges and best practices on engagement coming up with evidence-based recommendations to scale-up local partnerships in improving humanitarian aid. Six main topics were discussed in the forum, including: conflict and peace-making, disaster response, refugees and forced migration, disaster risk reduction and resilience, gender-based violence, and children and health. Some of the recommendations in the group include: contextualization of humanitarian terminologies, providing more platforms for sharing models, best practices, capture validated   experiences and promote to the government, agencies for support, providing more funds to support local faith actors, maximizing existing platforms for education awareness and opportunities  and create consortium to have easy access of information and among others.  

Call to Action:

The Call to Action specifies key actions at global, national and local levels to be taken by participants’ organisations including LFAs, faith-based international NGOs and religious networks. It also identifies entry points for other humanitarian actors and stakeholders to engage in the work of LFAs.  

Goal 1.LITERACY:

  •  Improve the faith literacy of the humanitarian community;  
  •  b)    Improve local faith communities’ literacy of the humanitarian system, principles    and standards
  • Secure commitments and funding  for faith literacy  training, call on humanitarian donors and  staff to develop a  unified evidence-based approach  to faith literacy   training; and develop  guidance  for  organisations,  local  authorities  and donors  on partnering  with  local FBOs, and improving respect for the local mission of FBOs.  

 GOAL 2: INCLUSION  

  • Ensure sector wide efforts to localise humanitarian response capacity are inclusive of local faith actors 
  • To  get “engagement from all  of society”  and  “empowerment of local  communities, , consult  with recognised governments  and engage other  global processes such as  the Global Compacts on Refugees and Migration, and the  Comprehensive  Refugee  Response  Framework  (CRRF),  so as  to  assure  that  LFAs  are recognised. 

GOAL 4: ESTABLISH COORDINATING MECHANISMS TO SUPPORT THIS ACTION PLAN 

  • A Working Group on Advocacy for the Inclusion of Local Faith Actors in Humanitarian Response will be established at the Forum, as a coordinating mechanism for on-going advocacy and programmatic interventions. The Working Group will develop a detailed plan to accompany this Call to Action, which will be taken forward by Forum participants in their respective organisations and stakeholders. 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • Create companionship between local faith based actors and international non faith actors to support mutual learning.
  • Educate to understand how faith based organisations /religious organisations to commit to be more inclusive of faith based actors. 
  • Be inclusive of indigenous knowledge and local resources and customs in all their works and engagements
  • Create tools that explore religious language on migration and find alignments between humanitarian principles and religious values.
  • Developing evidence and literacy around the issue of faith and faith institutions for resilience: Spiritual capital, faith literacy, theology and psychological support. 
  • To work with faith based agencies to better equip local faith leaders to respond to Gender based violence particularly in talking root causes , to reflect and challenge their own religious understanding of harmful gender norms, power, violence and how they can meaningfully respond.
  • Understanding that women’s empowerment is not only addressing Gender based violence issues but also enabling women’s agency and engagement in society  and the economy 

At this consultation, I emphasised the importance and the need for the faith communities not to wait for the calamities and disasters to happen to involve in the humanitarian need, rather built up a network to avoid and also to assist in all levels of human need which is very much a common reality in the global south. In the most of these situations the disasters are human made that leads to disasters and calamities. I encouraged them to involve in the ongoing Initiatives to engage as faith communities and civil societies to educate and enlighten the people who are forced to be in need.

In this consultation we recognised that faith is critical to the lives of the people whom we serve. 

Faith actors bring so many strengths in a humanitarian response. So it was decided to look at faith leaders with credibility and learn from the communities to create new expression of Hope.  Let me conclude in the words of Rev. Ebenezer Joseph the General Secretary of Nation church council of Sri Lanka “Let’s go with Hope in this journey. It doesn’t matter which faith and organisation we came from. Let us go in faith starting our journey together so we become compassionate and companions for the people who are in need”.  

Rev.Dr.Vincent Rajkumar

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