The Niger crisis and the response to it have generated considerable controversy within the humanitarian sector. How effective were early warning and assessment mechanisms in producing timely, credible and accurate information and analysis? When it finally came, was the response appropriate? Why did the donor response appear to be slow, and did lack of funds act as a significant brake on the response? Was it appropriate to blame donors for the slow response? Did this succeed in galvanising action?
This meeting aimed to create space for discussion in order to look for and capture lessons at a stage when these questions are still being actively debated. It aimed both to inform on-going policy and programming in Niger and elsewhere in the Sahel, and to contribute to wider discussions about early warning, disaster prevention and disaster response, including reform of the humanitarian system and challenges to current development models in such environments.
The event was sponsored by the UK Department for International Development. In addition to ODI staff, it was attended by 36 representatives from donors and aid agencies, the media and academics. Three hourlong sessions discussed the role of early warning and needs assessment and the nature of the response, and the issues arising were summarised in a final wrap-up session. Each session began with a short presentation and brief responses from invited panellists, followed by a moderated debate amongst participants. In order to promote open discussion, the meeting took place under the Chatham House rule, so this report does not attribute views to individuals or organisations.