Start Network has welcomed a further three new members, taking the organisation to 42 members across five continents.The three – Caritas Sri Lanka, Cordaid (based in the Netherlands) and PRO-VIDA(based in El Salvador) – bring to 15 the number of agencies that have joined this year, following an invitation in 2015 for new membership applications.
Sean Lowrie, director of the Start Network, said: “We welcome them all, and the fresh perspectives each will bring to Start Network, as we lead for change in humanitarian aid. We are a growing movement with a shared belief that the current system is not fit for purpose. Each of our three newest member is from a different continent, further evidence of the truly global nature of our network.”
Caritas Sri Lanka, founded in 1968, is a member of the Caritas International network in 165 countries. Rev. Fr. Shanthi Kumar Weliwita, its national director, said: “Immediate relief and response take centre stage when disasters occur, but long-term disaster mitigation and resilience requires specialised mechanisms in which the Start mechanism has developed wide expertise and continues to pursue research.
“We are therefore privileged to have been able become a member of this network and to be enriched by its innovative approach.
“Start Network and its members have rich experience in the field of disaster management. We hope to benefit from their expertise and at the same time share our own experience in addressing the impacts of natural disasters.”
Cordaid, also a member of Caritas International, has worked in recovery after disasters in 10 crises including the Philippines, Nepal, Indonesia, Pakistan and Haiti. Annelies Claessens, its humanitarian aid director, said: “Cordaid is delighted to join Start Network to demonstrate our commitment to diversity, decentralisation and collaboration in humanitarian aid, for which Start Network stands, as well as its focus on emergency preparedness and innovation.
“We have a practice of working with other organisations, local and international, in humanitarian aid and fully support diversity and the central role of collaboration in the humanitarian system. We have a particular interest in localisation of humanitarian aid and we hope to be able to exchange experience with Start Network, in order to learn and develop new ways of working.”
PRO-VIDA began in El Salvador in 1984 to support people affected by the country’s civil war. It currently has 62 staff and 1,830 community volunteers. Graciela Colunga, its executive director, saaid: “The Salvadoran Association of Humanitarian Aid, PRO-VIDA, is part of the Regional Coordination for Risk Management (CRGR) network, with 125 Central American NGOs from Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador.
“Now, as a new member of Start Network we hope to share their ideals of victims’ dignity through joint humanitarian action. They strive to be stronger, to learn, to propose, to participate through their experiences, and to uphold human rights within the most vulnerable communities, particularly among children and women.”
All three new members will send representatives to this month’s Start Network Assembly meeting.