AIDF Global Disaster Relief Summit

Sep 25, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC, USA - The seventh annual AIDF Global Disaster Relief Summit was held in Washington D.C. on the 10th and 11th of September at the World Trade Center Washington, D.C. (Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center). The two day summit had more than 350 participants representing NGOs, UN agencies, donors, governments, military personnel, academia and the private sector. 

The event was kicked off with Dmitri Dovgopoly, the director of the UN Procurement division addressing updates on UN Procurement such as procurement volume of the entire UN doubling in the last 5 years; the UN is to buy more goods and services than ever before.

The first panel moderated by Carlos Carrazana, Executive Vice President & Chief Operations Officer at Save the Children USA, brought a wealth of practical experience and in-depth understanding of laws, rules, contracting terms, procurement procedures, accounting and audit procedures. 

The conference was then split into two parallel streams, with security and logistics in one room and health and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in another. 

The security and logistics panels concentrated on security and stability in the Middle East & Africa moderated by Andrii Nebrat, Director at Ukrainian Helicopters, followed by best practices for getting supplies into areas of reduced infrastructure presented by Becky Turner, Consultant at the Humanitarian Logistics Association. The last panel in this stream discussed operational efficiency and supply chain management. 

The first health and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) panel on reducing health consequences during emergency situations discussed current health threats during and after emergencies and the best practice to overcome them. This was followed by panels on best practice and innovations for emergency WASH as well as lessons learned from the Ebola outbreak highlighting the need for strong emergency medical coordination between governments and NGOs. 

Informal roundtable discussions on both days allowed audiences to share their experiences with the group or ask more specific questions and then conclude the first day with panel discussing strategic partnerships and CSR models.

During the networking breaks and lunches the audience had the opportunity to explore the exhibition area with stands from Global Fleet Sales, Danimex Communication, Inmarsat, Butyl Products, Ebury, NRS International/NRS Relief/TANA Netting/Flexyway Solar Solutions, Volga-Dnepr Airlines, TOYOTA Gibraltar Stockholdings, Iridium Satellite, Greenshields Cowie & Co, MPOWERED, TATE Global, Red Rose, GlobalCorps, OECD, Air Partner, ARPA, Ukrainian Helicopters, CTG Global, JSI, the International Association for Public Health Logisticians and UN Development Business. Further sponsors such as ARPA, Biomerieux, BakerHostetler, Motorola Solutions, Satcom Direct, Palladium, BDO, E-geos, MinXray, Ford and Earth Networks were able to engage, speak and network at the summit.

The second day of the conference offered panels on topics such as innovations in emergency coordination and social networks, moderated by Keith Robertory, Director of Disaster Logistics Support at the American Red Cross. By 2020 there will be 2.9 billion smartphones in the developing world; use of digital aid will become an ever more increasing strategy for aid response. This panel was again followed by split parallel sessions in ICT, data and field operations. The discussions included panels focused on better communication with communities, highlighting the importance of communicating in a disaster. Another topic addressed was electronic payment models for aid operations, emphasizing the trend and need for digital payments during and after an emergency where access to actual money can be difficult. 

The field operations stream looked at safety of crisis-affected population and shelter assistance and post-disaster settlement planning. The last expert panel of the summit discussed taking a human-centered approach to relief and recovery programs, examining a holistic approach to aid delivery to better address community needs and rights. 

Elizabeth Zimmerman, Associate Administrator of the Office of Response & Recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, closed the summit with a passionate keynote speech about FEMA’s strategy and the importance of partnerships and collaboration. 

As Brent Anderson, United Nations Development Business stated, “This year’s summit was an excellent networking and learning opportunity for us. The speakers were informative and engaging. There was a wide range of practitioners and officials which provided a very well rounded summit with players from government, aid organizations and the private sector. We have made contacts that should prove most valuable to us in the coming months.” This was the objective of this summit: bringing together all stakeholders from different backgrounds and organizations to improve disaster relief and management globally.

PHOTO: Dmitri Dovgopoly, Director, Procurement Division, United Nations, providing opening remarks at the annual AIDF Global Disaster Relief Summit.

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