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Improving the international
humanitarian system:
the potential of the corporate sector
By John Mitchell
Director ALNAP
Agenda
Overview of the humanitarian system
Corporate engagement in humanitarian aid
– some recent evidence and preliminary
thoughts
Future potential
Formal International Humanitarian
System: main actors
 The formal system is made up of
 The providers: donor governments, foundations and
individual givers
 The implementers: Red Cross/Crescent Movement,
INGOs; UN agencies and IOM; national and regional
civil society
 The recipients: affected populations
Key actors seen to be outside the formal
system and informal systems which are also
of importance
 Central but often neglected actors
 Affected governments
 The military
 Businesses
 Informal systems
 Global remittances
 Zakat system
 Front-line, local humanitarian systems
“International aid is a footnote in the
survival strategies of poor people”
Alex De Waal
International Humanitarian Footprint: staffing
 Estimated humanitarian staff 595,200
 UN agencies and IOM 49,500
 Red Cross/Crescent 48,400
 INGOs 112, 900
 Aid worker population has increased
by 6% over last 10 years
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International Humanitarian Footprint: funding
 International humanitarian resources $18 billion 2008
 Emergency aid flows $4.4 billion - 2007
 Emergency aid flows $6.6 billion - 2008
 Humanitarian aid rising faster than official
development assistance (ODA)
The system is made up of multiple actors,
relationships, resource and information flows
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What kind of system is it?
 Aid is supported by basic ‘business model’ supported by
‘default position’ of a largely international alliance of
agencies
 Global Public Policy Institute (GPPI) describe sector as
‘quasi market’ with an indirect producer-consumer
relationship
 The ‘market’ is loaded with information and power
asymmetries such as weak incentives to deliver good
quality services efficiently
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How should it work?
A Vision from ALNAP Membership
“...Humanitarian assistance will be more systematic and
delivery will more closely reflect humanitarian principles,
norms and codes... Active partnership with affected people,
local administration and civil society groups will be more
evident and will reflect an explicit recognition by the
international community of the importance of local skills and
knowledge... Humanitarian agencies will act accountably and
will ensure that learning and change processes, including
evaluations, are part of a commitment to continuous
improvement...”
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How have aid agencies tried to become
more accountable?
 A combination of 3 broad approaches:
(i) improving participation of affected communities
and local ownership (downward accountability)
(ii) developing codes, standards and principles
(iii) focusing on performance and results
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Approach 1. Improving participation and ownership by
local and national stakeholders – current initiatives
 Humanitarian Accountability Partnership: NGO membership
committed to Quality Management Standard
 Collaborative Development Action: the Listening Project on
views of affected populations
 Fritz Institute: use of beneficiary surveys
 Promotion of participatory evaluation methodologies
 Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment (VCA) through Red Cross
 Quality COMPAS – quality management approach
 Global Study on Participation – participatory techniques and
monographs
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Approach 2. Codes, standards and principles
 Red Cross/Crescent NGO Code of Conduct.
 Debates about IHL and humanitarian principles (neutrality,
independence and impartiality) after Rwanda genocide,
Chechnya and Afghanistan
 International Disaster Response Law (IDRL) development of
legal frameworks
 SPHERE: technical standards, sectoral approach
 People In Aid: promotion of HR best practice
 HAP Standard mentioned previously is a standard focusing on
participation
Approach 3. Performance and results
 Evaluations – OECD-DAC Criteria
 ALNAP Evaluations
 Impact assessments, innovations
 Humanitarian Performance Project (HPP)
 Results based management
 Quality approaches – Compas, EFQM and ISO 9000
 Emergency Capacity Building Project (ECB)
 Good enough guide
There is no lack of change and reform initiatives to help
implement different elements of these three approaches
QUALITY, ACCOUNTABILITY,
LEARNING, ADVOCACY
 Sphere, HAP
 ICVA, Voice
 ALNAP, PiA
 URD, Coord Sud
THEMATIC DEVELOPMENT
 Rights & Empowerment
 HIV-Aids, Gender
 LRRD
 Protection
 Participatory Approaches
STRUCTURE
 Clusters
 Internationalisation / Decentralisation
JOINT ACTION AND PARTNERSHIPS
 Joint Ventures e.g. ECB,
Good Humanitarian Donorship
 Capacity Building Programmes
 Partnership Building e.g. WEF PPPs
BUSINESS PRACTICES
 Finance & Funds e.g. CERF
 Leadership e.g. HCs
 Communications & Media
What do the various approaches and
multiple initiatives add up to?
 Performance ideals are not easy to realise across the system
given the quasi-market nature of the system and the multiple
relationships - focus to date has been on specific
organisations, principles and mechanisms
 System-wide performance is shaped by and emerges from
interactions between different sets of stakeholders
 And it is currently weak
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‘…once they have reached a certain size,
agencies usually go out of business due
to poor financial management and rarely
if ever due to poor field performance…’
 Tsunami Evaluation Coalition
Changes are afoot which mean these three
approaches to humanitarian performance need
re-thinking, or at least re-visiting
 Increasing vulnerability, more disasters, global-local
crises (food, fuel, finance)
 Changing international order (China, Russia, India,
Brazil; G8 to G20; etc)
 Changing disaster management modalities
 Internationally driven (Darfur)
 Hybrid (Pakistan Earthquake)
 Nationally owned (Sichuan earthquake)
Agenda
 Overview of the humanitarian system
 Corporate engagement in humanitarian aid –
some recent evidence and preliminary thoughts
 Closing thoughts
Corporate Footprint: what and who?
 61 corporate initiatives identified in 2006 survey
 3 forms of engagement:
 Single company engagement: e.g, The IBM World Wide Crisis
Response Team
 Partnerships e.g, Motorola with CARE (most common form)
 Meta-initiatives e.g, Disaster Resource Network (DRN)
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Corporate Footprint: funds
 Average size of corporate initiatives surveyed
was $2 million
 Largest is TNT-WFP ‘Moving the World’ $10
million
 Budget data very hard to come by
 Funding generated is very small compared with
overall humanitarian budgets
Corporate Footprint: where and how?
 Predominate focus on natural disasters (especially posttsunami)
 Tendency for capacity-based engagement, focusing on
filling gaps or enhancing existing capacities
 Logistics e.g. Crown agents for DFID
 Procurement e.g. Global Hand
 IT e.g. Microsoft
 Telecommunications e.g. Ericsson
 Organisational management e.g. Accenture Development
Partnerships, Price Waterhouse Coopers
 Corporate Responsibility Brokers e.g. Corporates for Crisis
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Drivers for corporate engagement in
humanitarian work (i)
Focus on partnerships and reducing
organisational risk
Important role of CEO vision
Strategic branding
Reputational benefits
Corporate social responsibility
Drivers for corporate engagement in
humanitarian work (ii)
Staff motivation e.g. IBM, Deutsche post,
World Net, TNT
Business intelligence to enhance
performance
Protecting assets from disasters
Desire to put something back
What is the capacity of corporate
engagement to change basics of the
humanitarian system?
 On the basis of the presented evidence, and existing initiatives, there are
few examples of profitable organisations bringing significant change to
the system
 Corporates are currently engaged in improving how the system works, or
in their own mechanisms for delivery, generally by using the norms of the
system
 Behaviour of corporates is just one element in emergent accountability of
the overall system, and at the present time, not a particularly distinctive
one compared to the approaches emerging from the ‘formal’ actors
themselves
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Agenda
Overview of humanitarian accountability
Corporate engagement in humanitarian aid
– some recent evidence and preliminary
thoughts
Closing thoughts
ALNAP has identified three broad forms
of learning in the international system
 Single-loop learning is undertaken in line with existing practices,
policies and norms of behaviour. The focus is on incremental
improvements in practices
 Double-loop learning involves reflection on the appropriateness of
existing practices, policies and norms within an organisation.
Conscious process of re-designing products, processes and methods to
generate new ways of doing things in response to changing contexts
 Most challenging is triple-loop learning, which represents the highest
form of organisational self-examination. It involves questioning the
entire rationale of an organisation, and can lead to innovative and
concurrent transformations in structure, culture and practices
Central question: how can
corporates contribute to doubleloop learning in the humanitarian
system?
Key principles
 Vitally important to create new shared space and
opportunities to bring corporate competencies to
bear on humanitarian performance, learning and
accountability
 Use this space to clarify goals, share perspectives,
challenge existing practices, question assumptions
underlying different approaches, identify and adapt
different mechanisms, experiment and move
forward in the spirit of mutual learning partnership
Some examples
 Community-based feeding therapy utilising best
corporate knowledge and products to transform
malnutrition treatment
 Use of mobiles in emergencies – partnerships with
leading technology and mobile operators
 Bringing quality management principles, especially
ISO, into Q&A mechanisms such as HAP and People
in Aid Code
 Use of balanced scorecard in planned system-wide
performance assessments by ALNAP
Should we be thinking about
corporate engagement for
1) Downward accountability?
2) Codes, standards and practices?
3) Performance, learning, evaluation?
Or
4) Corporate partnerships for humanitarian
innovations that cut across all of these?
Thank you!
Please keep in touch
John Mitchell [email protected]
Join the ALNAP network at www.alnap.org
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