When disaster strikes or conflict threatens, the work of those saving lives comes into focus. World Humanitarian Day is a time to reflect on the tens of thousands of people in hundreds of organisations and thousands of communities who bring help and provide hope when it is needed most.
This dynamic process is fuelled, informed and grown everyday through the feedback and voices of those who know only too well what happens when disaster comes to their doorstep. In Nepal, scouts went door to door to tell people how to keep themselves safe and prevent disease after the devastating earthquake. Efforts to combat the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa started to make headway only when communities were involved in the response and felt they were not helpless. Networks of local journalists risk their lives every day in conflict affected Central African Republic and South Sudan to bring people the information they need to make critical decisions about their lives.
These type of activities extend the humanitarian safety net even as the challenges around the world are growing in scale and size. Support to local humanitarians, whether that be local health workers, NGO managers or broadcasters, is more important than it’s ever been. That support might come through training or ensuring systems are in place so that communities are able to voice their critical needs to those taking day to day decisions on priorities. The need for this to happen on a far wider scale is acute, because in so many emergencies in so many places the first and most critical help is going to be local.