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START is a network of international NGOs based in England, which granted its prestigious membership to Caritas Sri Lanka (CSL) recently and added the logo of the Sri Lankan partner to its official webpage. START is a network comprised of 42 national and international aid agencies from five continents with the sole objective of delivering an effective aid, harnessing the power and knowledge of the network to make faster and better decisions to help people affected by crises.
Established in 2012, this organization is a response to the old and conventional way of dealing with crisis responses which has been found to be ineffective. START is of the view that the existing and conventional system of humanitarian aid that has operated over more than 70 years is no longer working and the system needs an immediate drastic change to mobilize a faster, effective response mechanism, especially in response to kind of small-scale crises that often passed unnoticed – but which affects millions of people each year.
Since its launch of funds in 2014, it has reached more than four million people caught up in smaller-scale crises across 46 countries. Thus far, it has enabled its members to act in response to nearly 80 alerts, disbursing more than £17 million.
The salient features of their fund are that it is the world’s first pooled rapid response fund managed solely by its members and disbursed within 72 hours when an alert is raised, comparing with an average of 17 days when an aid agency acts alone. Each emergency response project is to complete within period of 45 days, ensuring highest degree of transparency and visibility in distributing aid.
Caritas Sri Lanka (CSL) was first formally introduced to the START Network in December 2014 by CAFOD (Catholic Agency For Overseas Development) in England and Wales which is a founding member of START. This was when Sri Lanka was faced with a flood situation back in late 2014 and early 2015. CSL was able to access START funds to support flood affected communities in the Eastern and North Central Provinces of the country.
Caritas Sri Lanka was privileged to receive its START membership in November 2016 along with two other organizations, PRO-VIDA (based in El Salvador) and Cordaid (based in Netherlands), following an invitation from START Network in 2015 for a new membership application.
Representing Caritas Sri Lanka, Rev. Fr. Shanthi Kumar Weliwita - National Director and Mr. K.Theivanrarajah – Manager of Disaster Risk Management attended the recent START assembly meeting held in London in November 14th to 16th. This assembly focused on two focal areas: firstly it discussed, how to navigate the future hazards and to plan for effective response mechanism, and secondly, it tried to focus on the standards and systems that could be applied by START to be more effective in the field.