The Sentinel

Human Rights Action :: Humanitarian Response :: Health ::
Holistic Development :: Sustainable Resilience
Week ending 23 January 2016

This weekly digest is intended to aggregate and distill key content from a broad spectrum of practice domains and organization types including key agencies/IGOs, NGOs, governments, academic and research institutions, consortia and collaborations, foundations, and commercial organizations. We also monitor a spectrum of peer-reviewed journals and general media channels. The Sentinel’s geographic scope is global/regional but selected country-level content is included. We recognize that this spectrum/scope yields an indicative and not an exhaustive product. Comments and suggestions should be directed to:

David R. Curry
Editor &
Founding Managing Director
GE2P2 – Center for Governance, Evidence, Ethics, Policy, Practice

pdf version: The Sentinel_ week ending 23 January 2016

blog edition: comprised of the 35+ entries  posted below on 24 January 2016

An appeal to end the suffering in Syria [120+ humanitarian organizations and UN agencies]

An appeal to end the suffering in Syria
21 January 2016, ongoing
More than 120 humanitarian organizations and United Nations agencies issued a joint appeal today urging the world to raise their voices and call for an end to the Syria crisis and to the suffering endured by millions of civilians. The appeal also outlines a series of immediate, practical steps that can improve humanitarian access and the delivery of aid to those in need inside Syria. You are invited to “sign” the appeal simply by liking, sharing, and retweeting it.

Three years ago, the leaders of UN humanitarian agencies issued an urgent appeal to those who could end the conflict in Syria. They called for every effort to save the Syrian people. “Enough”, they said, of the suffering and bloodshed.

That was three years ago.

Now, the war is approaching its sixth brutal year. The bloodshed continues. The suffering deepens.

So today, we — leaders of humanitarian organisations and UN agencies — appeal not only to governments but to each of you — citizens around the world — to add your voices in urging an end to the carnage. To urge that all parties reach agreement on a ceasefire and a path to peace.

More than ever before, the world needs to hear a collective public voice calling for an end to this outrage. Because this conflict and its consequences touch us all.

It touches those in Syria who have lost loved ones and livelihoods, who have been uprooted from their homes, or who live in desperation under siege. Today, some 13.5 million people inside Syria need humanitarian assistance. That is not simply a statistic. These are 13.5 million individual human beings whose lives and futures are in jeopardy.

It touches the families who, with few options for a better future, set out on perilous journeys to foreign lands in search of refuge. The war has seen 4.6 million people flee to neighbouring countries and beyond.

It touches a generation of children and young people who — deprived of education and traumatized by the horrors they have experienced — increasingly see their future shaped only by violence.

It touches those far beyond Syria who have seen the violent repercussions of the crisis reach the streets, offices and restaurants closer to their homes.

And it touches all those around the world whose economic wellbeing is affected, in ways visible and invisible, by the conflict.

Those with the ability to stop the suffering can — and therefore should — take action now. Until there is a diplomatic solution to the fighting, such action should include:
– Unimpeded and sustained access for humanitarian organizations to bring immediate relief to all those in need inside Syria
– Humanitarian pauses and unconditional, monitored ceasefires to allow food and other urgent assistance to be delivered to civilians, vaccinations and other health campaigns, and for children to return to school
– A cessation of attacks on civilian infrastructure — so that schools and hospitals and water supplies are kept safe
– Freedom of movement for all civilians and the immediate lifting of all sieges by all parties

These are practical actions. There is no practical reason they could not be implemented if there is the will to do so.

In the name of our shared humanity… for the sake of the millions of innocents who have already suffered so much… and for the millions more whose lives and futures hang in the balance, we call for action now….Now.

U.S. – Strengthening the International Response to the Global Refugee Crisis

U.S. – Strengthening the International Response to the Global Refugee Crisis
Fact Sheet
Department of State – Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
January 22, 2016

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced today in Davos, Switzerland, that the United States is seeking significant new international commitments to strengthen the international response to the global refugee crisis. This effort responds to the growing numbers and needs of refugee populations around the world, and reflects our sense of urgency about expanding the humanitarian safety net and creating more long-term, durable opportunities for refugees.

The United States will work with partners to advance the initiative over the coming months, culminating in a high-level event to be hosted by President Obama on the margins of the 71st session of the UN General Assembly. Event participants will be asked to make commitments in the following areas:

Broader and Deeper Commitment to Funding UN Humanitarian Appeals:
In order to create a stronger and more sustainable funding base for UN humanitarian appeals, we are seeking commitments to regular contributions from at least 10 new nations. In tandem with that effort, we will seek at least a 30 percent increase in financing for global humanitarian appeals, from $10 billion in 2015 to $13 billion this year.

Expanded Resettlement and Other Legal Channels for Humanitarian Admissions:
In order to create a brighter future for some of the world’s most vulnerable people, our goal is for nations with existing legal pathways for refugee admission to make commitments that double the global number of resettled refugees and those afforded other legal channels of admission, and for nations without such programs to establish them.

Facilitating Refugee Inclusion and Self-Reliance:
In order to enable refugees to meet their own needs and contribute to communities that host them, the United States seeks commitments to increase the number of refugees worldwide in school by one million, and the number of refugees granted the legal right to work by one million. We believe that at least 10 nations must strengthen their refugee policies and practices to help reach these goals.

The United States will announce significant new commitments over the coming months and will strongly encourage other nations to do the same. The President’s Summit will convene those nations that have made significant new commitments toward achieving the Summit’s core goals throughout the course of 2016, encouraging the international community to do more than we have in the past.

New multi-year initiative launched to step up global response to trafficking in persons and the smuggling of migrants

New multi-year initiative launched to step up global response to trafficking in persons and the smuggling of migrants
21 January 2016, Brussels – The European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) today launched the Global Action to Prevent and Address Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants. A four-year joint initiative between the EU and UNODC, the programme will be implemented in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) through to 2019.

The programme forms part of a joint response to assist countries to develop and implement effective responses to trafficking in persons and the smuggling of migrants. UNODC, together with IOM and UNICEF, will focus efforts on assistance to governmental authorities, civil society organizations, victims of trafficking and smuggled migrants.

John Brandolino, UNODC’s Director of the Division for Treaty Affairs, welcomed this initiative and stated that the global action signalled the continuing positive relationship between UNODC and the EU. Mr. Brandolino further added that “UNODC’s collaboration with IOM and UNICEF is key to successful global action. It will help provide a comprehensive prevention and protection approach to addressing the issue of trafficking in persons and the smuggling of migrants.”

Fernando Frutuoso de Melo, Director General of the European Union’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, added: “Trafficking in human beings is one of the most severe violations of human rights. This new project will help with the prevention efforts and will support the fight against this scourge.”

The programme is expected to be delivered across Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America in 13 countries, namely: Belarus, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Kyrgyzstan, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mali, Morocco, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, South Africa and Ukraine.

Too important to fail—addressing the humanitarian financing gap :: High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing Report to the Secretary-General

Too important to fail—addressing the humanitarian financing gap
High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing
Report to the Secretary-General
January 2016 :: 41 pages
Report Pdf

[Excerpts from Executive Summary]
The world today spends around US$ 25 billion to provide life-saving assistance to 125 million people devastated by wars and natural disasters. While this amount is twelve times greater than fifteen years ago, never before has generosity been so insufficient. Over the last years conflicts and natural disasters have led to fast-growing numbers of people in need and a funding gap for humanitarian action of an estimated US$ 15 billion. This is a lot of money, but not out of reach for a world producing US$ 78 trillion of annual GDP. Closing the humanitarian
financing gap would mean no one having to die or live without dignity for the lack of money. It would be a victory for humanity at a time when it is much needed.

The UN Secretary-General has appointed a nine-person group of experts (“the panel”) to work on finding solutions about this widening financial gap. The panel identified and examined three important and interdependent aspects of the humanitarian financing challenge: reducing the needs, mobilising additional funds through either traditional or innovative mechanisms, and improving the efficiency of humanitarian assistance.

The panel’s work aims to help inform and shape the objectives of the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in Istanbul in May 2016. It is also highly relevant in the context of adopting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—only by focusing the world’s attention on the rapidly growing numbers of people in desperate need will we be able to achieve the SDGs…

…Improve delivery: a Grand Bargain on efficiency
The panel concurs with a widely shared view among stakeholders that systemic change in humanitarian aid delivery is needed in order to raise new money and use it more effectively. Greater efficiency will create a virtuous circle by drawing in more funding. Since the status quo is not an option, the panel calls on donors and implementing organisations to come together in a Grand Bargain. As part of that agreement, donors would not simply give more but give better, by being more flexible, and aid organisations would reciprocate with greater transparency and cost-consciousness.

The elements of a Grand Bargain include provision of more cash-based assistance, where appropriate, and recognition of the comparative advantages of local, national and international implementing organisations for delivery of services. To improve response time the panel suggests the creation of a repository of pre-qualified organisations to dispense with repeated screening of NGOs, as well as more work on strengthening local capacity.

The panel wants donors to commit to more multiyear funding and less earmarking, since flexible funding is the lifeblood of humanitarian operations. And donors should simplify and harmonise their reporting requirements, leaving aid workers more time to perform their life-saving activities. And we need greater transparency from implementing organisations so that everyone can “follow the money” on its journey from donor to recipient. A global data platform to provide open and transparent data would help reduce transaction costs and increase effectiveness.

By committing to joint needs assessments, such as those carried out in northern Syria and during the Nepal earthquake, humanitarian organisations would increase donors’ trust. True transparency is within our grasp thanks to digital technology and this should be extended to include communities receiving aid: humanitarian organisations can learn and improve by listening to the people they serve.

If we are to move towards a model of collaborative efficiency, the panel would like government donors and aid organisations to agree to a Grand Bargain. By doing so, they will clearly demonstrate a common commitment to the greater good.

The panel presents this report conscious that the implementation of its recommendations will depend upon the will of many to carry them forward. Panel members are committed to continuing to offer their assistance in the process of making these proposals a reality.
[Table, Excerpt from Grand Bargain discussion, p.24]
The panel recommends:
That by the World Humanitarian Summit donors and aid organisations work towards a collective roadmap for stretching available money to reach more people in need.

The main elements of a Grand Bargain are:
For aid organisations and donors to work more closely together towards:
…More financial transparency.
…More support and funding tools to national first responders.
…Scale up use of cash-based programming and more coordination in its delivery.

For aid organisations to commit to:
…Reduce duplication and management costs.
…Periodic functional expenditure reviews.
…More joint and impartial needs assessments.
…A Participation Revolution: listen more to and include beneficiaries in decisions that affect them.

For donors to commit to:
…More multi-year humanitarian funding.
…Less earmarks to humanitarian aid organisations.
…More harmonized and simplified reporting requirements.
Panel Members
Ms. Kristalina Georgieva, Bulgaria, Vice President for Budget and Human Resources, the European Commission
HRH Sultan Nazrin Shah, Malaysia, Ruler of Perak, Malaysia
Panelists in alphabetical order
Ms. Hadeel Ibrahim, the United Kingdom, Executive Director, Mo Ibrahim Foundation
Mr. Badr Jafar, the United Arab Emirates, Managing Director, the Crescent Group
Mr. Walt Macnee, Canada, Vice Chairman, MasterCard
Mr. Trevor Manuel, South Africa, Senior Advisor, Rothschild Group
Ms. Linah Mohohlo, Botswana, Governor, Bank of Botswana
Mr. Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah, Sri Lanka, Secretary-General, CIVICUS
Ms. Margot Wallström, Sweden, Minister for Foreign Affairs

The Rockefeller Foundation Announces $130 Million Initiative to Reduce Global Food Loss and Waste

The Rockefeller Foundation Announces $130 Million Initiative to Reduce Global Food Loss and Waste
January 21, 2016
DAVOS, SWITZERLAND—Today, as part of the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Annual Meeting, The Rockefeller Foundation announced the launch of YieldWise, a seven-year, $130 million initiative that will demonstrate how food loss and waste can be cut in half globally, continuing the Foundation’s long legacy in strengthening food security and advancing healthier, more productive food systems around the world.

“The amount of food lost or wasted before it ever reaches a table is simply unacceptable, with devastating impacts on people, profit, and planet,” said Judith Rodin, president of The Rockefeller Foundation. “Yet, it’s a challenge that can be prevented with a blend of existing solutions, from technologies that help farmers keep more of what they grow to models for private sector engagement that ensure those crops will be bought, rather than left to rot. Through YieldWise, The Rockefeller Foundation will finish the business we started with the Green Revolution more than a half-century ago—to ensure more of the world’s people are fed and the planet’s precious resources are protected.”

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), we grow enough food to feed all the 1.2 billion hungry or undernourished people on the planet, yet one-third is never eaten. Given the projected 2 billion increase in the global population by 2050, the need to minimize loss, not just maximize production, is critical.

To do this, through YieldWise, The Rockefeller Foundation will engage private, nonprofit, and government actors across the food supply system. With large multinational companies like The Coca-Cola Company and Dangote as key collaborators, the initiative will focus on linking small and big businesses that can mutually benefit from diversified sources for products and enhanced markets. At the same time, the Foundation will make targeted investments toward dramatically reducing food waste generated by retail outfits and consumers across the U.S. and Europe…

YieldWise’s immediate focus will be in Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania, where up to half of some crops are lost to inefficient harvesting, storage, processing, and time to market. The Rockefeller Foundation will focus on streamlining the supply chain from farm to market, putting proven technologies—many of them simple—in the hands of smallholder farmers to increase yield and create new paths to prosperity.

“In the global conversation on food waste, we often overlook losses between harvest and retail. On 470 million smallholder farms across Africa, lack of access to training and technology negatively impacts harvests and farmer livelihoods. When crops and food exports don’t make it to market, the economic development and global competitiveness of agriculture-dependent nations suffer as well,” said Mamadou Biteye, managing director of The Rockefeller Foundation in Africa. “YieldWise is the first global solution to food loss and waste that works across the entire food system: from farm to store to table and beyond.”

YieldWise will focus on behavior change, from how smallholder farmers grow and store their crops to how companies account for food loss and waste across their supply chains. It will help the economic development and global competitiveness of agriculture-dependent nations, which currently suffer when crops and food exports don’t make it to market. Beyond impacts on business and trade, it will also help to relieve the 25 percent of freshwater and 20 percent of farmland that is currently wasted on the production of unconsumed food. Ultimately, YieldWise’s goal is an efficient, productive global food system with minimal loss.

Nationwide launch of Mobile Health Program in rural India signals new era of mHealth for emerging economies

Nationwide launch of Mobile Health Program in rural India signals new era of mHealth for emerging economies
Platform overcomes technology barriers; delivers life-saving health information to mothers and pregnant women on mass scale
Jan 15, 2016 (WASHINGTON)—Today, the Government of India launched a nationwide mobile health program designed to train community health workers and to directly reach millions of women within three years. The program is powered by MOTECH, a robust yet simple-to-use mobile health (mHealth) technology developed by Grameen Foundation, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Until now, mHealth applications have been relatively small and siloed,” said John Tippett, Global Director of Mobile Health at Grameen Foundation. “By allowing systems to work together and serve huge numbers of people, MOTECH opens a new era for tackling global health problems at scale through mobile technology.”…

India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare announced the national roll out of two MOTECH-powered programs developed by BBC Media Action – Mobile Academy and Kilkari – both aimed at addressing health challenges that result in high infant and maternal mortality rates.

Kilkari directly calls pregnant women and mothers, delivering crucial health information targeted to their stage of pregnancy or their infant’s age. Mobile Academy uses Interactive Voice Response (IVR) messages on mobile phones to train front-line health workers in maternal and infant care. The health workers, known as ASHAs (Accredited Social Health Activists), are selected by the village they serve, and are central to India’s strategy to improve maternal and child health.

“The Government of India has launched Digital India program in order to transform the entire ecosystem of public services through the use of Information Technology,” said Shri Jagat Prakash Nadda, the Honorable Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare. “We need to transform healthcare by empowering people to become active healthcare citizens with choice but most powerfully with information and to take more responsibility over their own health and life choices… . I am confident that these services will bring us a step closer to the people who need our services the most.”

As of today’s announcement, national scale-up is underway. Kilkari—which is the Hindi word for “a baby’s gurgle,”—is live in six states, and Mobile Academy in four…