Capacity building strengthens the ability of the humanitarian sector to provide aid effectively and independently. Its goal is to help organisations become well managed, well linked to other partners and prepared for crises. Capacity building involves, sharing knowledge, expertise and good practices so that organisations can react to emergencies better and faster. Working in a coordinated and complementary ways will in turn increase the organisations’ potential to respond to humanitarian needs in an effective and efficient manner.
Humanitarian settings have changed dramatically over the past decades. Protracted conflicts, the increased presence of armed non-state groups, recurrent emergencies caused by climate change and poverty, scarcity of resources for a growing world population, increasing urbanisation, and high numbers of displaced populations all raise new challenges for the humanitarian sector.
The capacity of humanitarian organisations to deliver aid via traditional means is stretched to the limit. Despite the fact that funds for humanitarian assistance have increased significantly over the past few years, global needs have increased disproportionately, and only half of the humanitarian needs in 2018 were met.
Humanitarian organisations, both local and global, need to learn to operate in the face of new challenges and cooperate better with each other to maximise their impact for people in need.
The European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid operations (ECHO) helps increase the response capacity and shape the governance of the international humanitarian system through the Enhanced Response Capacity (ERC) funds. In 2018, the European Commission allocated €1 million for ERC funds.
The ERC provides seed funding to initiatives that introduce and develop new approaches to ways of working, for the benefit of the humanitarian sector. These initiatives are to later integrated into permanent structures, ensuring continuity of work and long-term resources, so that every euro spent has the greatest possible impact on the lives of the most vulnerable people.
The ERC funds focus on specific priority areas that are determined annually and are likely to contribute to an overall improvement of humanitarian action. Examples include:
In recent years, the ERC has supported the capacity of humanitarian organisations to improve the treatment of malnutrition; respond to urban humanitarian crises; use solar energy for sustainable water supply in refugee camps, increase access to care for survivors of gender-based violence, use cash transfers for affected populations in emergency settings, and increase awareness on International Humanitarian Law.