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Advisory Support to the WFP Global Access Discussion on Humanitarian Access in the Context of COVID-19

By 24/08/2020 No Comments

A World Food Programme (WFP) staff member teaches a pupil about the Sustainable Development Goals amidst the COVID-19 pandemic at a distribution center for the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme in Adekunle Anglican Primary School, Makoko, Lagos, Nigeria. (Photo: Damilola Onafuwa/WFP)

Embracing the challenge to support one of CCHN’s Strategic Partners in examining the Global Access situation in the context of COVID-19, the CCHN was trusted by the World Food Programme to facilitate and moderate the Global Access Discussion. This series of panel discussions and staff exchanges was held on 10 August 2020. The facilitation format was based on our experiences through the series of Peer Circle discussions and online Monthly Forums on Humanitarian Responses to the COVID-19, organized form May to July.


This advisory support was a great opportunity for CCHN to support a partner organization while getting a chance to engage with a community of humanitarians working and focused on humanitarian access and operational challenges in a variety of environments. After some preliminary work with the organizers of the WFP, we aimed to address the question of whether and how the COVID-19 has impacted humanitarian access and operations. Additionally, we used the forum for teams and individuals to exchange thoughts and strategies that have worked and could become best practices for other contexts.

Collecting Insights from External Partners, Research and Policy Institutions

The discussion was opened with introductory remarks from David Kaatrud, WFP Director of Programme – Humanitarian & Development Division, HQ Rome.

This particular event is convened by the WFP Technical Access Cell under the Programme Policy Division, with the support and facilitation from CCHN. We want to substantiate this mechanism within the WFP to work fully and properly, as we go forward grappling with the COVID-19 challenges.

David Kaatrud

David Kaatrud

WFP Director of Programme - Humanitarian & Development Division, HQ Rome website

The first panel was comprised of external speakers offering a more global vision based on their experience and research, namely OCHA, ACAPS and Humanitarian Advisory Group. One of our members of Community of Practice, Benedetta de Alessi, offered valuable insights from her role as OCHA Access Focal Point, Regional Office for Eastern and Southern Africa.

By sharing OCHA’s global survey on Trends of Access with WFP colleagues, hopefully, there can be a bigger picture understanding of the evolution of access in the context of COVID-19 as well as the types of access constraints, their impact and collective strategies for mitigation.

Benedetta de Alessi

Benedetta de Alessi

OCHA Access Focal Point - Regional Office for Eastern and Southern Africa website

Providing Samples of Regional Best Practices within an Internal Discussion

Following some exchanges with the global panel, we transitioned into a WFP internal discussion with four speakers representing different roles and regional contexts within WFP who gave the participants some background on what they are dealing with on the ground with a real focus on finding solutions.

The main objective of WFP’s Global Access Discussion was to exchange and share experiences on access constraints during the COVID-19 pandemic, were met with a broad participation of WFP staff from around the globe, and in various types of operations. This session, largely due to the moderation and facilitation of CCHN, has brought a lot of interest from the field in having a platform to discuss access related constraints

Philippe Kadima

Philippe Kadima

WFP Humanitarian Access Officer, HQ Rome, Italy website

There was a lively and interactive exchange with participants. While Will Harper, CCHN Negotiation Support Specialist – Africa moderated the exchanges, the CCHN team worked behind the scenes to filter and organize comments and questions to ensure voices were and perspectives from across the globe were heard.

I was interested in hearing about access to, and release from healthcare services, especially for humanitarian personnel. In my observation in a number of countries, we are often engaged in very challenging negotiations with health authorities to ensure that humanitarian staff are not automatically institutionalized, as this can impact on our ability to deliver, and may create distrust from staff and families. It’s been great to hear from colleagues having any tips for negotiating with doctors and health authorities; not usually a field that we are familiar with. Building our own capacity to conduct such negotiations will likely be essential going forward.

Vincent Van Belle

Vincent Van Belle

WFP Head of Security, Damascus, Syria website

Offering tailored Advisory Support to our Strategic Partners and other humanitarian organizations, CCHN will continue to facilitate these types of exchanges across our community of practice and hope to keep engaging and supporting frontline negotiators in different regions with different negotiation contexts.