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Working with consortia is one of the European Commission's response to emergencies. David Sevcik, Head of the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection in Pakistan, and Branko Golobuvic, Technical Expert from the same office, detail the added value of working with a consortium in the framework of the "biggest emergency operation the European Commission has ever performed".
EU supported ACTED hygiene sessions © ACTED
What are the benefits of consortia for the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection teams committed to the flood response?
It is first a matter of synergy. Consortia bring together organizations with expertise in different areas. As such, they can work together on the basis of the strengths of each member. This is essential, because you can't look at a shelter without looking at how it affects water and sanitation, how it affects health, etc. Coordination is definitely another deciding factor. During an emergency as large as the floods in Pakistan, it is key that humanitarian organizations coordinate their actions to maximize their effectiveness. Consortia are one of the best ways of ensuring that different agencies work together closely.
Distribution of blankets, pots and kitchenware by our partner ACTED © ACTED
What about cost-effectiveness?
Indeed, let's obviously not forget economies of scale: due to the large amounts of money that were committed to the flood relief effort, there was a risk that the administrative burden would impact aid effectiveness if many contracts were signed with smaller NGOs, thus increasing administrative follow-up. Consortia uniting large and small NGOs help to ensure that these inefficiencies are minimized while ensuring that smaller NGOs with valuable skills and resources can take part in the emergency operation.
What is the added value of consortia for local populations?
Working with local populations and coordinating with local authorities allow increased impact as well as sustainability. It is thus important for relief NGOs to give priority to community-level coordination and local capacity building. Working together as a consortium allows member organizations to interact and coordinate with local authorities with a single voice and also allows partners to advocate for humanitarian principles in a single voice. This streamlines the processes and aid negotiations between those humanitarian agencies and local authorities.
What about the commitment of the European Commission to emergency assistance from now on?
The success stories of the relief effort stemmed from a combined humanitarian effort. But in flood-affected areas of Pakistan, the work to support communities still continues as many people face emergency needs. The threat of further flooding during the 2011 monsoon season also looms in the minds of humanitarians in Pakistan. European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection is committed to providing emergency assistance to the people of Pakistan if such threats become a reality. If a disaster takes place, we will act.