General Assembly Resolution 46/182 led to the creation of the Department of Humanitarian Affairs (DHA). It focuses on the strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian emergency assistance of the United Nations.
Networks clearly have wide-ranging applications in the humanitarian sector, yet surprisingly little has been written on the strategic development and management of networks with the humanitarian sector in mind. In this Background Note, we address the question of what networks actually do from this perspective, drawing on existing initiatives and mechanisms. We move on to outline a simple, flexible and powerful methodology — the network functions approach (NFA) — that can be applied to analyse and strengthen humanitarian network initiatives.
This note aims to help those facilitating, acting within or supporting humanitarian networks and communities of practice – whether across or within organisations – reflect on their activities and frame them in a more structured and strategic fashion. In doing so, we hope that network strategies will be honed, thinking will be clarified, activities be sharpened and ultimately, humanitarian performance will be improved – delivering greater value to members and to those receiving humanitarian assistance.