Preparations are under way to identify the largest humanitarian needs across the world.

Ahead of the first ever World Humanitarian Summit in 2016, Islamic Relief Worldwide is taking part in national and regional consultations to collect evidence and opinions on the greatest strengths and weaknesses of current humanitarian work globally.

Eight regional consultations with national governments, humanitarian organisations, civil society and community responders have been organised between now and July 2016, when the summit will be held in Istanbul.

Islamic Relief Worldwide has co-hosted the Afghanistan National Consultation along with the Agency Coordinating Body of Afghan Relief and Development (ACBAR) to bring together an array of perspectives from the country. The views from this consultation will be fed into the South and Central Asia regional consultation, due to be held in Tajikistan in July.

Main thematic areas discussed during the national consultation included humanitarian effectiveness, reducing vulnerability and managing risk, transformation through innovation, and serving the needs of people in conflict.

New ways to meet the needs

Imran Madden, head of humanitarian department at Islamic Relief Worldwide, said: “The global humanitarian community is under strain as it tries to meet the needs of crises that currently include the Nepal earthquake, Syrian refugee crisis, displacement in Iraq, the violence in South Sudan, the conflict in Central African Republic, the crisis in Yemen, displacement in Mali, and migrants from Myanmar. We need to find new ways to work efficiently, meeting these needs with limited resources.”

More than 250,000 refugees have arrived in Afghanistan from Pakistan in 2015, adding to the pressures on the country’s needs. Afghanistan’s children are malnourished, a third of its population lives below the poverty line, life expectancy is just 50, and the country is still rebuilding after ongoing conflict and flooding and avalanches in 2014. Afghanistan in Limbo, produced in March 2014, set out Islamic Relief Worldwide’s belief that the world must not abandon the people of Afghanistan, and called on the international community to sustain aid funding, improve the quality of aid, prioritise long-term development, focus on basic services, ensure community and NGO involvement, build resilience and strengthen governance.

Mohammad Hussain Raufi, humanitarian coordinator at Islamic Relief’s Afghanistan office, said: “The views voiced in the national consultation were areas we have identified, so it is encouraging to think we are already showing signs of pulling very much in the same direction. Among the themes coming up were local capacity building, robust needs assessments, better coordination between humanitarian agencies and with local governments, increasing grassroots community networks, engagement of small and medium enterprises in helping people cope after a crisis, and better monitoring of finances.”

Islamic Relief will be attending the South and Central Asia Regional Consultation in Tajikistan in July, then the Global Consultation in Geneva in October ahead of the final summit in May 2016. The final meeting will propose solutions to humanitarian challenges and set the agenda for future humanitarian work.