Review. Café Humanitair: strategies born out of necessity to survive - Humanity House
22 June 2017

Review. Café Humanitair: strategies born out of necessity to survive

On Wednesday June 14, we discussed people’s strategies to survive after conflict and disaster. Read our review up here.

Book launch with a.o. Professor Thea Hilhorst

What are people’s strategies to survive after conflict and disaster? And what lessons can we draw from the past, to help people in their recovery in the best way possible? On Wednesday June 14, practitioners and academics on humanitarian aid and reconstruction gathered in the Hague to discuss these issues during a new edition of Café Humanitair. This edition was organised around the book launch of ‘People, Aid and Institutions in Socio-economic Recovery: Facing Fragilities’, edited by Prof. Thea Hilhorst, Bart Weijs and Gemma van der Haar.

Real examples for development work

What does socio-economic actually mean? Starting from this question, Prof. Thea Hilhorst explains that it is something that is part of our daily lives, as it revolves both around the social and economic situations that people are in. ‘In fragile systems, social, political and economics do not add up. That is what we discuss in this book: real situations that people face when recovering from disaster and conflict’.

After the five main lessons learned from the book were presented by hand of video contributions of other authors, the floor is given to Dirk Salomons, director of the Humanitarian Policy Track at Columbia University. He is very clear in his speech about the value of the book: ‘this book provides a lot of very real examples for development work’. He emphasizes that aid organizations can apply the examples from the book to how they work in the field. This message is repeated in the discussion panel that includes two of the authors from the book. Holly Ritchie and Patrick Milabyo both emphasize that organizations need to understand the needs of local people to understand the bigger picture when providing aid.

Aid needs to facilitate the needs of people.

Answering a question from the audience on what possible solutions are to solve the problems discussed in the book, Patrick Milabyo emphasizes: ‘people do not spontaneously participate in development. Aid should be able to facilitate the needs of the people in fragile systems’. And while this message has already been emphasized over the years, it will prove to be increasingly important in the years to come.


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