Because Action Against Hunger works where populations face routine violations of fundamental human needs — access to food, drinking water, land, and livelihoods — we have advocacy strategies in place to alert, inform, and influence decision-makers and politicians. These advocacy strategies allow our agency to address the underlying causes of hunger while delivering direct assistance to those in need. In practice, humanitarian advocacy enables us to engage in political arenas in ways that don’t threaten our programmes on the ground, the security of our field staff, our access to vulnerable populations, or our neutrality.
Humanitarian advocacy takes place at three levels
- Programme Level Advocacy: At the programme level, advocacy is rooted in the effective delivery of humanitarian assistance, addressing barriers or threats to a population’s access to life-sustaining resources and services.
- Policy Level Advocacy: At the policy level, advocacy can bolster humanitarian values, secure or protect humanitarian spaces, improve policies and practices, and challenge or propose funding priorities.
- Public Opinion Advocacy: At the level of public opinion, advocacy aims to enlist public support, build constituencies, and shape popular opinion in support of changes to specific policies or legislation. In practice, these contexts blur as advocacy efforts often take place at all levels simultaneously. To influence politicians, advocacy strategies can take many shapes but essentially involve the packaging and delivery of our field expertise, analysis, and recommendations to the stakeholders in question — publicly or confidentially — depending on the sensitivity of the context.
Humanitarian advocacy offers pathways to political influence for apolitical organizations like Action Against Hunger. While stridently impartial in the field — targeting only the most vulnerable — we recognize that advocacy, as organized activism in support of humanitarian values and outcomes, is the very embodiment of humanitarian politics.