The needs of local groups in a humanitarian emergency have been the focus of a conference held in South Africa.

The Grassroots Consultation Conference collected information from local people who receive international aid in emergencies.

Imran Madden, head of the humanitarian department at Islamic Relief Worldwide, was at the meeting, held in Johannesburg. He said the feedback from grassroots organisations showed they felt excluded from the system, with decisions about the aid required often being made at a higher level, whether their regional or capital city, or internationally.

“It’s not fully participatory,” he said. “70 per cent of aid is delivered by local organisations, but only four per cent of funding is directly received by them.

Imran Madden talking to the group

Imran Madden talking at the conference

“The big agencies send out money and it is filtered down to the local organisations on the ground, but they have little say in how it should be spent. Often an evaluation report is made, but they don’t get to see it. They also said they needed localised funds ready for a quick response.”

Moving forward

Views were collected on humanitarian effectiveness, reducing vulnerability and managing risk, transformation through innovation and serving the needs of people in conflict. They will form part of the Eastern and Southern Africa consultation, which will inform the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016.

The conference was jointly hosted by Islamic Relief South Africa and The United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)’s Regional Office for Southern Africa (Rosa).