Innovations in International Humanitarian Action

  • Citation: Ramalingam, Ben, Kim Scriven, and Conor Foley. “Innovations in International Humanitarian Action.” Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action, 2010.
    • Topics:
    • Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding
    • Keywords:
    • humanitarian aid
    • assistance
    • policy
    • innovation

Critics of humanitarian aid, many from within the sector, complain that humanitarian evaluations and other learning exercises repeatedly highlight the same problems and shortcomings, and ‘tell us nothing new’. The fact that evaluations don’t capture novelty and ideas does not mean that the humanitarian endeavour is lacking an innovative spirit. The motivation to extend assistance to those affected by conflict or natural calamity has driven individuals to extreme lengths – and led to considerable ingenuity and perseverance. The starting point of this ALNAP study is that much ongoing work in the realm of humanitarian learning and accountability does not seek to generate new and different ways of operating. Rather, it focuses on existing practices, policies and norms of behaviour, and involves detecting and correcting deviations and variances from these standards, or finding ways in which standard operating procedure can be better implemented. The focus is on incremental improvements in practices. Much humanitarian learning arguably focuses on single-loop learning at individual and group levels – hence the frequent ‘nothing new ’ criticism.

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