Partnering with Development Actors

Partnering with Development Actors

Our partnerships with development actors enable us to strengthen our protection and assistance work, supporting broader sustainable development outcomes, enhancing the overall impact of humanitarian action and creating conditions to prevent conflict and development reversals.

Our collaboration with development actors

The ICRC spends most of its budget on protracted conflicts; we have been operating for over 40 years on average in the countries where we conduct our ten largest operations. We not only help people survive conflicts and other crises, but also work towards delivering sustainable humanitarian impact by providing individuals and communities with the means and capacities to protect their own lives, dignity and well-being in the long term.

In contexts where humanitarian and development challenges converge, the ICRC's role is instrumental for a principled and comprehensive operational and policy response.

Collaboration between the ICRC and development actors leverages the strengths of each of the partners. Through such partnerships, the ICRC strengthens its protection and assistance work, supporting broader sustainable development outcomes, enhancing the overall impact of humanitarian action and creating conditions to prevent conflict and development reversals.

The ICRC's mandate is to protect and assist people affected by armed conflict and other situations of violence. In its humanitarian operations, guided by neutrality, impartiality and independence, the ICRC contributes to laying the foundations for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, making sure that violence-affected people are not left behind.

What is a development partner?

Since 2017, the ICRC has been working with various international financial institutions, national development agencies and other development partners to achieve sustainable humanitarian impact. These partnerships are critical to bridging humanitarian and development imperatives in fragile and conflict-affected areas and to overcoming the arbitrary divide between emergency life-saving care and longer-term response. Ultimately, development actors can also play a crucial role in delivering the ICRC's responsible exit strategies.

A long-term approach to such partnerships supports:

  • Knowledge exchange: This involves the sharing of knowledge and expertise on operating in fragile and conflict-affected contexts to protect and assist affected people and overcome organizational readiness issues, with a view to promoting humanitarian–development collaboration.
  • Policy engagement and humanitarian diplomacy: This serves to leverage local, regional and global voices and enhance joint advocacy to contribute to the humanitarian–development–peace nexus.
  • Operational collaboration: The aim is to preserve development gains in fragile conflict- or violence-affected contexts and secure critical life-saving aid for victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence.

Sustainable humanitarian impact

Working in places where people are at greatest risk of being left behind, our unique mandate serves not only to help individuals and communities to survive crises, but also to benefit from sustainable humanitarian impact. The ICRC works to prevent development reversals, preserve development gains and lay the foundations for recovery. Our unique organizational model enables us to pre-finance our operations, respond quickly to crises and sustain a field presence in areas affected by protracted conflicts or violence while planning a responsible exit.

Partnering for sustainable humanitarian impact enables the ICRC to enhance its operational collaboration with strategic development partners, based on direct grants and other forms of financing (see ICRC partners and projects section).

Key principles for achieving sustainable humanitarian impact include:

  1. Putting people at the centre of responses: Ensuring humanitarian organizations remain accountable to beneficiaries and address the complexities of people's protection and assistance needs.
  3. Shifting from "life-saving" to "life-sustaining" action: Enabling affected people to live and rebuild their lives independently, with dignity and autonomy.
  5. Reducing and preventing long-term needs: Durably reducing risks arising from conflicts and violence by supporting the resilience of affected people and essential services and systems, in cooperation with duty bearers.
  7. Partnering and the "triple nexus": To achieve sustainable impact, it is necessary to adopt a multi-sectoral approach, rather than focusing solely on humanitarian goals. Cooperation with a variety of stakeholders, including authorities, political, diplomatic and military actors and development partners contributes to this.
  9. Responsible exit: By strengthening resilience and laying the foundations for recovery to enhance impact in contexts of fragility, conflict and violence, the ICRC helps development actors join operations when an acute conflict eases in order to start focusing on longer-term systems building. Nonetheless, the ICRC retains a residual responsibility towards populations, supported during the more intense phases of a conflict, who would otherwise not receive adequate support and where development actors have disinvested. This continued engagement ensures the most vulnerable are protected during the different phases of protracted conflicts.

ICRC partnership value for development actors

The ICRC offers development partners a unique added value, including:

  1. Humanitarian expertise in conflict contexts: The ICRC has unparalleled experience in the field of humanitarian action, providing direct relief and protection for civilians, detainees, wounded people and others affected by conflict.
  3. Unmatched access: By upholding the principles of neutrality and impartiality, the ICRC gains access and acceptance in politically sensitive and restricted areas that few or no other actors can reach. Neutrality, which means not taking sides in hostilities or controversies, ensures trust, while impartiality guarantees equal treatment for people based on needs. This trust from all conflict parties enables the ICRC to effectively assist underserved communities and so fulfil its mission.
  5. Preventive approach: The ICRC implements activities aimed at preventing the collapse of critical infrastructure, for instance, it stabilizes service delivery in fragile or volatile contexts to mitigate widespread humanitarian consequences.
  7. Proximity to affected populations: The ICRC's activities are rooted in the principle of proximity, which means being present on the ground and directly engaging with affected populations to get a fuller understanding of their needs and aspirations and to co-develop solutions to the problems they face.
  9. Logistics: With its commitment to delivering goods and services and its robust procurement capacities, bolstered by regional hubs, the ICRC manages to deliver goods and services to people even in the most challenging contexts.
  11. Accountability: The ICRC is committed to enhancing the effectiveness of its action for victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence, using resources optimally and increasing its accountability, first to victims of conflicts, and second to other stakeholders, particularly its donors and partners.
  13. Direct delivery: the ICRC's direct implementation approach enables it to deliver greater value for money by limiting various levels of intermediaries while also ensuring greater oversight and control over project implementation in volatile contexts that require flexibility and shorter chains of command. The ICRC averages a 91% implementation rate and ensures cost-effective service delivery, maintaining an overhead rate of 6.5%.

Donor Support Group

The ICRC Donor Support Group (DSG) is a unique and privileged collective consisting of the ICRC's top government and institutional donors. It provides a platform for exchanges on key ICRC policies, priorities and programming.

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