The World Humanitarian Action Forum (WHAF), formerly the Humanitarian Forum, was founded in 2008 in part as an effort to support the collaboration of international organisations working with Muslim NGOs & communities.
Whilst the forum’s growing global network is inclusive regardless of faith orientation and location, WHAF and a number of its partners bring an experienced view to discussions on re-shaping an aid sector that frequently marginalises organisations and communities less able to conform to its norms. The expertise of WHAF and its network include, for example,an understanding of ‘non-traditional’ models of aid financing as well as having experienced the impact of de-risking as a result of their proximity to Islamic identities.
These, and other frequently side-lined experiences, can contribute to the plurality of views currently being welcomed into the sector wide re-shaping aid discussions.
The World Humanitarian Action Forum (WHAF) is a global initiative, organised by several humanitarian and development organisations (65 partners over the last three forums), that aims to encourage effective collaboration to better serve affected communities.
WHAF engages a wide spectrum of views, experiences, and commitments to partners to provide many deep insights from grounded practice, careful research and compassion that they bring to their work and care for people in need. WHAF includes an innovative platform to encourage an open exchange of ideas and structured opportunities for networking and partnership building.
At times of major global crises, change is inevitable and questions need to be asked. COVID-19 has indeed changed the way the world works. Could COVID-19 be the latest opportunity for the much-needed change to happen in the aid sector too? How do we reimagine aid through the “core responsibilities” that were set out in the “Agenda for Humanity”?
The acknowledgement to give greater control to local groups has seen little progress and during this crisis there are examples of local actors who did and continue to do much of the work and take the risk but were given very little if any credit or direct funding to do so. How will our leadership responses to the economic and geopolitical shift and the narrative of global economic trends shape the future of aid and humanitarian financing in particular? What should the humanitarian space and aid sector in general look like and more importantly feel like?
In particular, most of our work aims to address the following key question:
How can aid organisations proactively reshape the aid sector such that it is fit for purpose to protect and address the needs of the most vulnerable communities?
WHAF is open to all, with a non-membership-based network involving representatives from local and national NGOs from the global South, international NGOs, Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, government authorities, philanthropists, donors, academia, media and the private sector.
Biennial meetings of WHAF provide continuing attention to key themes in order to keep the momentum for policy changes and action in crucial areas, especially on localisation, financial access and humanitarian protection.
- Develop strategies for informing policy on key issues affecting humanitarian organisations particularly those from the global ‘South’ .
- Develop joint initiatives and campaigns for collaborative working at local, national and international levels.
WHAF approaches the re-imagination of the aid sector with a focus on collaborating with and elevating the voices of actors from the Global South. While international powers shape most reform agendas, WHAF will centre perspectives from the Global South to create an environment of inclusive and
equal exchange and ideation. Additionally, WHAF aims to address the system as a whole, breaking down silos within the aid sector in order to better understand how our focus areas span across issues and efforts.
We hope that the WHAF series can act as a catalyst for a hole-system approach to the reimagining of aid that allows for increased collaboration, coordination, and inclusion.
WHAF adds value by being…
- Led and managed by partners.
Steering groups of NGOs manage the Roundtables to develop the focus on key issues for the sector. The WHAF Advisory Group, representatives of the steering groups, leads the overall Forum.
- Action orientated.
WHAF facilitates discussion around what needs to be done to improve efficacy in humanitarian work. These recommendations are then translated into campaigns and initiatives.
WHAF aims to achieve a balance of representatives from the global ‘North’ and ‘South’ to foster greater communication and relevance.
WHAF initiates joint campaigns and projects with partners to address throughout the year thereby facilitating improved collaboration and coordination in humanitarian work.