To commemorate World Humanitarian Day, the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Programme of the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies (NTS Centre) hosted a webinar titled “Anticipatory Action in Humanitarian Responses: Local Perspectives” on 18 August 2022. The webinar brought together Singapore-based humanitarian workers to raise public awareness in Singapore and the wider region.
Professor Mely Caballero-Anthony, Head of the NTS Centre, delivered the opening remarks while Dr Alistair D. B. Cook, Senior Fellow and Coordinator of the HADR Programme, moderated a panel discussion between Mr Konstantinos Antonopoulos, ASEAN’s Regional Representative for Doctors Without Borders (MSF), Ms Matilda Leong from World Vision Singapore, and Ms Angelina Ong, Executive Director of Mercy Relief. The panellists reflected on their experiences dealing with COVID-19, how their organisations incorporated anticipatory action in their operations, and the ways to scale up anticipatory action efforts in the future.
Mr Antonopoulos discussed the relatively recent adoption of Anticipatory Action within the Planetary Health framework by MSF and its relevance in the allocation and prioritisation of resources. As preparation and mitigation take centre stage in a time of increasing climate disasters, these organising principles are gaining momentum. Ms Leong shared World Vision’s preference for projects lasting 10 – 15 years to ensure sustainability in the long run. For World Vision, lessons learnt from COVID-19 include the importance of localisation and the need for pre-positioned resources. Also highlighting the importance of localisation was Ms Ong, who shared that Mercy Relief’s long-time practice of partnering with local organisations to run projects, with oversight from Singapore, proved particularly useful during COVID-19.
The webinar concluded with a Q&A session with 30 participants. Questions posed included the greening practices of these organisations, the need for reforms in the humanitarian sector as well as the role of local non-governmental organisations in conducting humanitarian operations.