Drivers of Coordination In Humanitarian Relief Supply Chains
Humanitarian relief is an action that needs to be taken to reduce the impact produced by a natural disaster that occurs in a specific area. There are 4 principles of humanitarian interventions (based on van Pottelbergh, 2017), which are (1) Humanity, (2) Neutrality, (3) Impartiality, and (4) Independence. These are the basis of humanitarian relief to understand the challenges and basic reason to decision making. Sometimes, applying those principles in confronts us with dilemmas. By understanding these principles in much more details & critically to success of all coordination in humanitarian relief supply chains.
- Dilemma 1 : Humanity
First of all, we need to know what the meaning of “Humanity”. Humanity means compassionate towards every human being, every human have rights to safety, shelter, community around themselves, etc. Without the sense of humanity, nobody will engage humanitarian relief (helping people in need). Humanity alleviate suffering and respect dignity, but in the other side, it brings up conflicts between different groups, religion, political system, and sometimes different generation.
A case study that can illustrate first dilemma is: Rohingya crisis in Myanmar. There is a scenario where providing assistance to those people means replacing responsibilities of national government. Would you provide or not provide assistance? The answer is YES. We’re humans. Basically, as nature we must help other people in need regardless differences (“Compassion greater where needs are greater”).
- Dilemma 2 : Neutrality
As a humanitarian relief organization, we are in a situation where the conditions on the field are different from what we often feel. We operate in new context of political system, limited resources, and we must work with particular person. The question that will arise is how to deal “Neutral”? The principle of “Neutrality” is humanitarian relief should not favour one party or particular ideology. However, there is a limited humanitarian space to operate assistance in a particular group where there is a difference religion, ideology, geographical area, and etc.
A case study that can illustrate second dilemma is: Afghanistan. This situation is population can only be reached with escort or by having military provide assistance. To apply this principle, we must not favoring one party or ideology. We are just trying to provide aid to people who are need. Other challenge rises is moral issue. It doesn’t matter who we are working with, as long as they can meet our objectives. So that, it needs international humanitarian law and contracts to minimize new problems that may arise over time.
- Dilemma 3 : Impartiality
Neutrality and impartiality are having very closed link and can’t be separate one to another. Basically, the situation of third dilemma is non-discrimination and prioritization of one particular group. But, sometimes the area we will help have politicized context. Take a case study in Syria: Provision of aid by faith-based NGOs. The situation is where the government or donator said that provide assistance to one religious group only is the condition for having humanitarian access by the controlling party. We can see that controlling party access can be guaranteed by helping specific group.
The conclusion that we can make are do not discriminate against different groups, choose a right partner and also choose a priority (parents & children, parents, people with certain conditions, and others). We need to prioritize who needs help first, following the criteria that have been selected in the consideration of decision making. One of the problems that arise when there are refugees from other countries who enter our country, whether to focus on refugees children or prioritize their own citizens. To prevent this, we must increase the capacity building.
- Dilemma 4 : Independence
The last principle is “Independence”. We are in a situation that have political conflicts, situation of war, or refugee crisis. But in this principles, let’s take a look of case study in Nepal. Here we got situation when we want to provide assistance but the national government would like us to adhere to their standards in natural disaster situation. They have priority about whom to help first, what kind of supplies to provide, what suppliers to use.
One important dilemma that can be a problem is: In some case some parties who work together with the government take profit form the disaster. To get rid of it, we must have a concept of principle Neutrality. But, we must pay attention to details who we are working with, what are their requirements, their funds, and synchronize our objectives. If we don’t have free collaboration (about technicality), this method is much more complicated. So that, ethics is needed to prevent this situation.
Essentially, to apply all those principals, there are 4 challenges. Those challenges are interdependencies (we can’t separate one from another), tensions (confused which principle is more important and cause problems because there are several parties who do not agree with the decisions taken), lack of understanding and respect (didn’t know what is the humanitarian relief’s objectives & increase the chances of corruption), and not always possible to achieve (difficult to implement all of these pillars (due to financial, environmental, geographical issues, and some other constraints).
So how do we make all of four principles of humanitarian interventions work in practice? Firstly, we must conscious decisions based on proper analysis. It is about how many people were helped, how to help them by individually/group, political context, are there any humanitarian organizations around that are able to help other groups). Then, we can adapted solutions & pragmatic approaches. We must not be idealistic with our own opinions and need to consider other constraints. Last, we need to have focus (only?) on humanitarian imperative and conflict-sensitive approach (do not harm minimum guidance).
Authors: Mahasena Jonatan
- Mahasena Jonatan (160318048)
- Charles Sugianto (160318094)
- Sahilatul Mardliyyah (160318122)
- Elsha Ramadhanti (160318131)
- Nabilah Alpha M (160318152)