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Three changes I want to see in 2020

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Jo de Serrano

Jo de Serrano

Jo is RedR UK's CEO and has worked in international development for almost 20 years, working tirelessly to deliver the best emergency responses in the most pressing humanitarian crises.

At RedR UK we have been building the knowledge and skills of individuals and organisations for more effective humanitarian action for almost 40 years.

In fact, it is our 40th birthday this year. We’ve made great progress towards developing the capacity of both individuals and organisations in humanitarian settings, but I’d like to focus on three changes I want to see in 2020. 

1. A more effective urban response 

The Haiti earthquake was 10 years ago, and I believe that we’re still not getting it right. What have we learnt? In an ever-urbanising world, 80% of IDPs - Internally Displaced People - now live outside rural camps and increasingly in urban areas (source: UNHCR). Traditional humanitarian response  does not suit urban environments and the way of responding needs to adapt to the complex dynamics of an urban setting.  

I want RedR UK to continue to play a vital role in facilitating collaboration between aid agencies and private actors: engineering, construction and energy companies and ensuring that the voices of those affected are heard. Community engagement is vital. Let’s all keep talking to understand the unique challenges that urban environments  present and to coordinate a better and faster response. 

2. A real transition to build the capacity of local responders 

It seems that sometimes localisation is just a buzzword for donors. In 2018/2019, 60% of the people RedR UK trained were national staff. It’s not enough though and I want to do more. Local actors struggle so much to access the funding they need to develop and build the capacity of their teams. But it’s not a one-way street, we have a lot to learn too from local actors and we’re not getting that right either. In addition, donors need to put their money where their mouths are.  

I strongly believe that responses must be as local as possible and as international as necessary. I call for a real shift in the face of humanitarian response.  

3. Strong actions to fight against Climate change 

The number of people needing humanitarian aid each year due to climate-related disasters is expected to almost double, from 108 million today to 200 million in 2050 (source: Red Cross). 

We need to act now! I am very proud of the success of the pilot programme we delivered for free, to 40 managerial staff from a variety of humanitarian, local government and private sector organisations involved in humanitarian response in the Philippines. This was the first training course covering both subjects: Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation, and we hope to have many more in the future.  

This innovative multi-stage approach will cascade the impact from the original 40 participants to over 400 individuals within their wider organisations and the vulnerable communities who are the ultimate beneficiaries of their work. We already know that participants have already been using their new knowledge and skills to respond to the recent flooding.  

Our programme has a real impact and contributes to saving the lives of thousands of people. I want to roll it out in these climate change-impacted developing countries: Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Mozambique. We need donors to help us deliver our projects at low cost , or even better, for free. 

Helps us achieve these changes 

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