We asked people from 16 different countries what they want the World Humanitarian Summit to change

Over the last two years Islamic Relief has been collecting evidence and opinions on the greatest strengths and weaknesses of global humanitarian work. With The Humanitarian Forum we’ve held 16 national consultations (in Yemen, Tunisia, Jordan, Somalia, Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, South Africa, Italy, Norway, Canada, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Germany) including nearly 1,000 participants, who told us:

  • grassroots organisations are being excluded, as decisions about aid requirements are made at regional, national or international level without local knowledge (often to the detriment of those in need),
  • counter-terrorism legislation is limiting aid delivery to people in conflict zones,
  • investment in short term emergency aid after disaster strikes is continuing to take the lion’s share of funding over woefully underfunded longer-term disaster prevention and preparation.

We’ve used these findings to shape the key messages we’re taking to the World Humanitarian Summit on May 23-24. Read more about our key messages here and see the summaries of our national consultations below.


Yemen (60 participants)
18th June ‘14
Recommended promoting the similarities between Islamic principles and international humanitarian principles in Yemeni society. Emphasised the need to highlight the contribution of Muslim communities to humanitarian action. Spoke specifically about respecting the social unit of the family and ensuring that that structure is maintained. Also talked about the common duplication of services provided and the absence of information about which organisation is delivering which service.

Tunisia (40 participants)
13th August ‘14
Discussed the need for organisations to have space to maintain their identity in humanitarian responses. Talked about including all actors in the planning and preparedness phases of humanitarian action to ensure effective ownership. Recommended that humanitarian actors identify sustainable sources of livelihood for affected and host communities during this process where possible.

Jordan (35 participants)
22nd June 2014
Debated the difference in traditions and cultural norms between the refugee communities, and the tensions emerging between refugees and host communities. Spoke about the power and resource base disparity between different actors in the supply chain, i.e. the donor, the implementing agency and the affected community.  Emphasised the significance of working closely with national governments for a well-co-ordinated humanitarian response and discouraging attempts to bypass that.

Somalia (80 participants)
18th August ‘14
Centred on ways to be proactive rather than reactive. Recommendations included adopting local ways of preparedness, use of local knowledge in the local environment and context, use of traditional warning/ prediction systems and the use of traditional response approaches and technology.

Uganda (40 participants)
20th October ‘14
Discussed the diversification of livelihood options post disaster, adoption of green technologies and the coordination of all actors including vigorous engagement with the private sector. Also spoke about increasing focus on prevention and developing robust, viable preparedness plans.

Ethiopia (43 participants)
21st August ‘14
Emphasised engaging the local government in different strands of humanitarian work in order to give local government workers a better idea of the different, interlinked humanitarian processes that are simultaneously at play.  Talked about strengthening government-NGO partnerships by creating appropriate forums conducive to better support.

Kenya (50 participants)
4th September ‘14
Discussed decentralising humanitarian action from the national level to the local level and engaging local communities through social media. Talked about the need for a legal framework to challenge the government’s current policy on taxing donations.

South Sudan (65 participants)
11th September ‘14
Discussed ways to get targeted humanitarian aid into the country in the absence of international humanitarian presence. Spoke about specialised coordination and community awareness and rehabilitation and economic and social integration.

South Africa (80 participants)
24th September ‘14
Discussed ways to encourage the private sector to engage better with NGOs and academia with regards to preparedness for and response to emergencies. Considered how to strengthen the role of communities in disaster risk reduction and delivering aid to disaster-affected people including youth, women, immigrants and refugees.

Sub-regional Grassroots Consultation East and Southern Africa (60 participants)
22nd-25th September ‘14
This consultation was attended by a variety of delegates including church groups, humanitarian activists, welfare organizations, refugee camp managers and NGO representatives who discussed various countries in East and Southern Africa. The talks at the sub-regional level were of a much greater scope that the national consultations and covered awareness of HIV, incorporating medical services into humanitarian responses, cross border movements and disease outbreaks. Mentioned the need for a well-rounded understanding of the root causes of conflict including the management and availability of natural resources. Spoke about corruption and climate change as well as “dead aid” i.e. the trillions of rands invested in Africa without correlating results.

Italy (80 participants)
9th January ‘15
This was a diaspora-focused consultation in which participants from diaspora communities and organisations in Italy were brought together to evaluate their role in humanitarian responses. Mentioned the different ways they engaged their communities but also mentioned that mobilisation is difficult because they are so few in number.

Plus six further consultations in:

Germany (17 participants)
10th January 2015

Canada (30 participants)
20th January ‘14

Norway (30 participants)
27th January ‘15

Bangladesh (49 participants)
18th May 2015

Afghanistan (90 participants)
21st May 2015

And Sri Lanka (132 participants)
26th May 2015


For Islamic Relief media interviews and enquires at the World Humanitarian Summit contact Mohammad Shakir on +447747022590 or mohammad.shakir@irworldwide.org