Recent humanitarian projects in Turkey show the success of the international community collaborating with local actors.

It is a bitter fact that humanitarian crises have always been around, and won't be going away any time soon. Human suffering deserves particular attention from the international community and recognising the growing numbers of vulnerable people, there have been efforts to gradually increase humanitarian assistance. 

But global assistance is hardly at the level needed to implement sustainable solutions to eradicate suffering and empower people to support their own livelihoods. To effectively fight against human suffering at such high levels requires the commitment and solidarity of the international community. 

In previous years, transformations in the humanitarian sector usually centred around problems faced in the operational functions of organisations. In operational and functional terms, there have been successful attempts to make the humanitarian sector more efficient and effective. 

The new millennium started with striking developments professionalising the sector. In 2016, a new era emerged with the World Humanitarian Summit. The summit involved the participation, contribution and commitment of over 3000 sector representatives from both governmental and non-governmental institutions from all over the world. Several critical sector related issues and concerns were discussed. The result was the surfacing of a new model for dealing with the ineffectiveness to reach sustainable solutions to humanitarian crises around the world. 

In other words, it was agreed that people in need should not be left alone on their own after first aid responses and instead should be harmonised into life with more far-reaching methods. This became known as the humanitarian-development nexus.

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in his inauguration back in 2016 pointed to the importance of this nexus, “We must bring the humanitarian and development spheres closer together from the very beginning of a crisis to support affected communities, address structural and economic impacts and help prevent a new spiral of fragility and instability.” 

The drastic change in the way the humanitarian sector viewed the new model became even evident when participants at the summit agreed to name the nexus with an outstanding claim: “The New Way of Working”. 

After the summit, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) developed a booklet to define the term and explain how it will affect the functioning of operations. 

The humanitarian-development nexus model or the New Way of Working, purports that the humanitarian and the development sector need to now cooperate and collaborate more closely with the inclusion of local branches to achieve collective outcomes with a focus on risk and vulnerability reduction. 

This reduction would then contribute to the overall achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Achieving collective outcomes is a key component because this change shows that the international community and humanitarian actors have agreed on deepened cooperation and joint action. 

In line with the New Way of Working, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in cooperation with the Turkish Ministry of National Education and the Turkish Red Crescent implemented a project titled “Turkey Resilience Project in Response to the Syria Crisis: Adult Language Training (ALT).” 

While the project was funded by the European Union with specific criteria that need to be adhered to, UNDP and the Turkish Ministry of National Education carried out the main operations of the project, such as the coordination of local centres, reaching target groups and organising their participation. The Turkish Red Crescent transferred a certain amount of money to participants through their KızılayKart platform, which is currently running the largest humanitarian assistance programme in the world. 

A central objective of the project was to enhance the Turkish language skills of adult Syrians residing in Turkey under temporary protection. The project involved public education centres located in 10 different cities of Turkey and providing them with language training sessions in separate classrooms. One ultimate goal of this is to help Syrians' employment prospects which will ultimately increase social cohesion. 

Furthermore, UNDP and TRC have recently launched another project – designed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic – titled “Strengthening the Community Resilience through Disaster Awareness Trainings and Livelihood Initiatives.” This project aims to provide migrants and other local communities with business and professional Turkish language training along with a program to raise their awareness for disaster situations. 

There is no doubt that these projects are prime examples of the implementation of the humanitarian-development nexus model. While the projects bring international organisations together with a common objective, they also facilitate the involvement of local actors at both governmental and non-governmental levels, setting a good example of how international, national and local actors can reach a collective outcome. 

The projects plan to reach 50,000 beneficiaries. They will contribute to social cohesion and strengthen local administrators’ hands in providing the beneficiaries with a wide range of job opportunities. 

This shows how a humanitarian and development nexus can be bridged to serve social cohesion and sustainable livelihood opportunities. 

What is important in taking this model even further ahead is the coming together of actors on a global scale with the view to work with local actors to achieve collective outcomes. It is quite promising for the humanitarian world to witness such holistic projects being actualised in a context which triggers follow-up projects forming a chain of them leading to more comprehensive solutions. 

It is also critical benefit from other experiences and lesson of pioneering actors such as the UNDP and TRC – all of whom have shown to a great extent a way of working in Turkey that is in line with the New Way of Working. 

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