With Learning Comes Change

ALNAP occupies a unique space in the humanitarian sector. At our origins, we were carefully designed to bring together the diversity of the humanitarian sector whilst having no agenda of our own beyond the mandate to enable those organisations to learn collectively and improve together around the issues they cannot solve on their own.

I continue to find it a special privilege to work for a network at the centre of so many topical conversations, while being charged with creating reflective spaces that protect time and opportunity for busy humanitarians to take a step back and exchange insights, experience and practical ideas in how best to address these collective learning challenges.

ALNAP’s 2023-2025 Work Plan 

In July 2023, ALNAP launched its comprehensive Work Plan for 2023-25. We will focus our efforts on issues which resonate across all constituencies of the humanitarian sector and are critical to its improved performance.

We will use our sector-wide mandate to make sense of existing evidence, fill gaps where necessary, and make connections between decision-makers and those innovating to overcome ‘sticking points’ on localisation, Accountability to Affected Populations (AAP) and the HDP nexus.

ALNAP will also consult monitoring and evaluation staff globally, hosting critical and sensitive discussions on how the humanitarian sector decides to measure its performance before developing updated, relevant and practical guidance on how to apply the OECD/DAC criteria in humanitarian contexts.

Our Work Plan has been shaped in response to our interactions with members, as well as the work we have conducted since 2022 on the 5th edition of the State of the Humanitarian System report and ALNAP’s Spotlight on Learning series.

Our film #WeAreALNAP introduces the key pillars of our work:

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Fundamental shift for the sector

When ALNAP was first set up, the biggest challenge for the humanitarian sector was a lack of evidence: not enough evaluations or research being conducted. But this has fundamentally shifted.

In today’s contexts, busy humanitarians simply don’t have the time to make sense of the wealth of learning, knowledge and evidence that’s out there. They are often struggling to make use of that learning to bring about change within their organisations and the wider sector.

In July 2023, ALNAP hosted the first ever EXplain event to provide concise but essential briefings to more than 20 senior humanitarian decision-makers on AAP, climate change, localisation and the humanitarian-development-peace nexus.

This was part of our new approaches for communicating knowledge tailored to the needs of busy humanitarians. Events like EXplain drive forward learning and change by increasing the level of interaction and awareness among key decision-makers of ‘niche’ learning and frontline innovation in the sector.

We want humanitarians to take away fresh thinking on complex topics, feel more up-to-date on the key conversations around them, and pick up new approaches different organisations are using to tackle them.

There was a fantastic response to Explain: we hope it will be the first of many events in the series.

Potential for learning and change

Learning doesn’t always lead to change, but change never happens without learning.

The reality is the nature of change in the humanitarian sector is slow, incremental and often driven by external factors.

We can see a humanitarian sector committed to improving, investing precious time and effort, but showing frustratingly little progress.

ALNAP seeks to diagnose why things aren’t moving, what’s starting to work, and what more can be done. And critically, what the patterns of the past tell us about the potential for learning and change in the future.

Learning doesn’t always lead to change, but change never happens without learning.

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