Thirteenth issue – March 2020

Generations: Break point or fresh start?


The impact of generational change on humanitarian aid

By Boris Martin and Sophie Zaccaria - In the humanitarian field, as elsewhere, generational change has made an impact. Now that many French NGOs are commemorating their 30, 40, or even 50 years of existence, what changes have been observed over time and, more importantly, how have they specifically transformed humanitarian action? From post-1968 medical doctors taking time off to volunteer on the field, to today’s “community managers”, to what extent does their experience fit with the commitment, the convictions, fieldwork, training, politics, mobilising actions, technological tools, and even with the very history of the humanitarian movement? [Read more]


Haiti: understanding
 the underwhelming appraisal of the international humanitarian efforts

By Diane Alalouf-Hall and François Audet - Ten years after the earthquake that devastated “the Pearl of the West Indies”, which has become the “NGO Republic” according to some, the authors give us an opportunity to remember, quite simply. But also, and perhaps above all, not to forget the necessary critical analysis of international aid that remains to be done. [Read more]


Finding the proper balance between generations

By Étienne Baudon - It seemed fitting to us to give voice to a young employee of an NGO when we developed the theme of “generational changes”. It is an effective way to get to know and better understand how members of the younger generation have come to characterise humanitarian aid, and to identify the points they share and do not share with their elders – and to reflect on what the all generations can create together. [Read more]

From enchantment to questioning: the changing face of humanitarian commitment

By Éric Gazeau - Founded in 2002 to assist former international aid workers with their social and professional reintegration, Résonances Humanitaires has become a valuable observatory over the years. In this article, its co-founder, Eric Gazeau, shares his vision and analysis of the changing profiles of successive generations of humanitarian personnel and the evolution in their humanitarian commitments. [Read more]

Should the “new young humanitarians” hack the system?

By Amélia Houmaïri-Romy and Vincent Taillandier - Even though it does not have the weight of a full investigation, let alone a sociological study, the survey conducted by Amélia Houmaï-Romy and Vincent Taillandier nonetheless provides much food for thought. Appearing to embrace the aspirations of their elders whilst having a clear awareness of the humanitarian sector’s pitfalls, the “new young humanitarians” may hold the keys to change, as long as they are not made to bear responsibility for it. To overcome this dichotomy, the authors put forward the idea of an intergenerational alliance. [Read more]

Integration, inclusion, induction: how Médecins Sans Frontières welcomes new generations

By William Empson, Cécile Pétriat and Stefano Manfredi - As an organisation with a strong history and an iconic image, Médecins Sans Frontières has thought about the integration of new generations coming on board. Taking a practical, trial-and-error approach, dogmatic conscious that young people need to find their place, MSF has implemented various processes to encourage their integration and evolve without renouncing its principles of action. [Read more]

Training future generations of international aid professionals: challenges and discussion topics

By Stéphanie Tchiombiano  - France is by no means lacking in training for young people looking to pursue humanitarian causes. As head of one of the most prestigious Master’s degrees on the subject, Stéphanie Tchiombiano wonders how we can best satisfy the needs of the aid sector and the career aspirations of students. [Read more]


Lessons in localisation: the Fondation de France’s experiences in Nepal and in Indonesia

By Karine Meaux, Haryanti Sunarta, Chaerul Umam and Patrick Verbruggen - At a time when local actors’ capacities are progressively gaining recognition in the field of international aid, what lessons has the Fondation de France drawn from its twenty years of experience in giving priority to these local actors ? In this article, we provide a comparative analysis of two recent experiences, from Nepal and Indonesia, in order to better understand current trends and meet the challenges that they represent. [Read more]


Use of research by NGOs: a call for reflection and action

By Valéry Ridde, Solange Dabiré, Christian Dagenais - The authors stress the importance of taking research findings into account for NGO interventions, and identify the technical and political challenges this presents. They put forward several approaches favorable to taking research into account, while explaining that knowledge and initiatives are still lacking in this area. This article provides a brief outline of the current state of affairs and puts forward the idea of an issue of Humanitarian Alternatives with a focus on knowledge transfer by NGOs, to be published in 2021. [Read more]

Operational research and malnutrition: state of knowledge and food for thought

By Amador Gomez, Pascal Revault, Pawankumar Patil - Many NGOs have already responded to the requirement of linking action and research. For instance, since 2016, Action Against Hunger has been holding a conference to take stock of these mutual insights and advances in malnutrition. Here, the three authors summarise the latest event held last November. [Read more]


Should Médecins Sans Frontières join the fight against global warming?

By Fabrice Weissman - Our issue on climate change has clearly fuelled the debate within the Médecins Sans Frontières movement. Following an article co-written by members of the Swiss and Canadian sections, Fabrice Weissman presents a critical analysis of the arguments put forward by his colleagues. An analysis that could be useful to the entire movement, and to the humanitarian community as a whole. [Read more]


Unsung heroes, Breaking the silence

By Denis Rouvre and Médecins du Monde - Unsung Heroes is a joint endeavour undertaken by Denis Rouvre and Médecins du Monde. This photography project “arose from the desire shared with Médecins du Monde to bear witness to the violence in the world as experienced by women” as the photographer said. “For eight months in nine countries worldwide, over one hundred women put their trust in me and accepted my presence behind the microphone, behind the lens. Despite the language barrier, cultural codes, and personal trials, these women have told their story. [Read more]



Universal health coverage by 2030 for every human being, from the West to the Global South? Achieving this sustainable development goal, which is as ambitious as it is necessary, will require exceptional political will, but also solid and convincing data on how to accomplish it, especially in terms of the most effective global health interventions. [Read more]






This book is the result of the meeting between humanitarian field actors and legal practitioners from the Law Faculty at Paris 8 University. Physicians, journalists, lawyers, politicians and soldiers met at this university, which has the reputation of being very “avant-garde”, in order to debate the concept of access to victims, here and abroad. [Read more]

(c) Dargaud / Rita Scaglia

Tribute to Claire Bretécher

Cover- A wink to Claire Bretécher, great cartoonist, who disappeared just as we were about to go to press.

Translators :

Mandy Duret • Gillian Eaton • Alan Holding • Alan Johnson • Juliet Powys • Derek Scoins

Correction for the French version :

Catherine Tranchant

Correction for the English version :

A.D.T. International

Acknowledgements for their voluntary contribution to this issue :

Aurélie Chevallier (MEDIATOON LICENSING) • Damian Gonzalez Dominguez (CICR/ICRC)

Conception :

In medias res

Printer :

Imprimerie Brailly – Saint-Genis-Laval

ISSN : 2492-7120