ALNAP adapting to the needs of the humanitarian sector in challenging times

When I took up the position of ALNAP chair in January 2023, I wrote about the principal challenges facing humanitarians in these times of intensified conflict, natural disasters, and escalating needs, and how I believed ALNAP might be able to contribute to the changes that are urgently necessary.

Our latest annual report, published last week, is a useful guide to ALNAP’s work and shows how the organisation is adapting to the developing needs of the sector in challenging times.

ALNAP’s fifth State of the Humanitarian System (SOHS) report - which was launched a year ago - provided a compelling and comprehensive assessment of the ways in which the sector is succeeding and the ways in which it needs to do better.

The report shows that while the humanitarian system performs well in many important areas, progress has stalled in others. In listening to crisis-affected people, in localisation, in reforming the humanitarian architecture, and in coping with specific challenges raised by conflict situations including protracted and forgotten conflicts, we are not seeing significant improvement. The consequences for the people we serve are grave.

There are many reasons why change is stalling, fundamental amongst which is because the sector as a whole finds it demonstrably difficult to engage with the lessons of previous crises.

ALNAP has spent considerable time assessing the efficacy of different kinds of learning and their relationships with change. Our annual report draws interesting conclusions about the efficacy of technical learning, practical lessons, and the comparative stubbornness of more transformative system-wide issues.

We also discovered that there is still much we don’t know about how humanitarians learn, an evidence gap we are now addressing in a focused way through our research.

In identifying these learning challenges and addressing them systematically, ALNAP demonstrates its unique value to the sector. It has a laser focus on the critical importance of collective learning and provides a vital collaborative space for reflection and assessment.

ALNAP is constantly testing new ways to bring its outputs to humanitarians in the most effective and practical forms. We welcome any ideas for improvement.

I am in no doubt about the scale of the challenge facing the humanitarian sector, but I know that ALNAP is entirely committed to playing its part and working with our valued members, our partners, and the broader community.

We look forward to yet another year of collaborative learning and improvement and hope you will join us and support our efforts.