As the Start Network announces an Islamic Relief colleague in Gaza as one of its Change Makers of the Year, our joint project with A Single Drop for Safe Water in the Philippines is also unveiled as an innovation challenge winner.

Making sure programmes in Gaza leave no-one behind

At its Annual General Assembly this week, the Start Network announced Islamic Relief’s Heba AbuJarbou as one of its Change Makers of the Year.

“Heba is a strong and inspirational colleague,” said Islamic Relief’s Sherin Alsheikh Ahmed, who nominated Heba as for her significant contribution to driving positive change within the humanitarian sector.

“She understands the importance of protection and inclusion and is very passionate about involving people at risk including those with disabilities, older people, women and children in our operations. Her ideas are enlightening and her efforts are highly appreciated.”

Heba works for Islamic Relief in Gaza and is currently engaging with people with disabilities to identify and remove barriers preventing them from accessing support.

Heba AbuJarbou, Quality Assurance Officer for Islamic Relief in Gaza, has been announced as a Start Network Change Maker.

Supporting communities to respond to Covid-19 in the Philippines

The Start Network also revealed that one of three winners of its ‘Working Differently’ innovation challenge is a joint project that is empowering communities in the Philippines.

Delivered in collaboration with local non-governmental organisation A Single Drop for Safe Water, our barangay (village) resilience and innovation through empowerment project supports communities in the Philippines to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The project brings in the localisation agenda, which Islamic Relief is embracing, especially in conflict affected areas,” said Christopher Estallo, programme manager for Islamic Relief Philippines, addressing the assembly by webinar.

“We wanted to model a governance based approach at the barangay level. The approach supports local authorities and communities to prioritise issues and develop their own solutions, or network with suppliers of assistance from a position of power. It is all about making sure the right aid is delivered in the right way.”

The scheme represents a significant break with traditional approaches in which communities only participate in a response delivered by external aid agencies, as A Single Drop for Safe Water’s executive director Kevin Lee explained:

“The biggest change we did in the planning process was actually asking people what they knew about Covid… and asking them about their experiences,” he said, describing how the project is now working with communities to develop solutions to the gaps identified. “We’re hoping that through this process we empower communities not just to react to Covid-19, but to be more resilient in the future.”

Local people are developing their own solutions to the Covid-19 response through our joint project with A Single Drop for Safe Water.

As a winner of the challenge, the project will receive tailored technical support to deliver on a wider scale, with subsequent potential to access a further project development budget.

“The success of the [Start Network challenge] application is an affirmation of the localisation agenda being promoted by Islamic Relief, where they look at local organisations as truly equal partners and provide space for them to drive potential programmes,” Kevin added.

“This programme is about systems change and the gains made with this challenge funding and technical advice will be immediately felt in programme areas but contributes to a national programme and institutionalised through mineralization and case studies as the local Barangay Resilience and Innovation Through Empowerment (BRITE) Network expands.

“Islamic Relief’s rapid recognition of a good locally developed idea and evidence of success and allowing local organisations to totally own the concept must be acknowledged as evidence that they actually own their commitments to localisation and the charter for change. Even though we have not formally worked with Islamic Relief in the past… we feel that the respect shown by the organisation bodes well for a positive implementing relationship.”

Islamic Relief is a proud member of the Start Network, which was founded in 2010 and is made up of national and international aid agencies. We aim to work with fellow members to deliver aid in a more efficient and effective manner whilst harnessing the cumulative knowledge of the network to make better decisions for those in need.

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