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Default to Design: Shifting Surge Post Pandemic

Surge practices are shifting in both fundamental and subtle ways due to the influence of multiple external drivers. Drivers this paper considers include the role of the pandemic, the localisation agenda, and growing environmental awareness, which have forced organisations to rethink their approaches to surge. However, many humanitarian actors have also proactively designed new practices, helping to drive change. This practice paper looks to capture both the default and the designed processes involved in creating a new surge landscape for the humanitarian sector.

This paper explores the evolution of surge practices through default and designed processes. It seeks to document lessons from the recent rapid changes and suggest a pathway for contemporary humanitarian surge.

This paper explores three questions:

1. What form did humanitarian surge take during the pandemic in Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Bangladesh and, more recently, in the Ukraine response?

2. How are humanitarian surge practices evolving to better support local leadership and capacity in these contexts?

3. What skillsets and support mechanisms are needed to ensure humanitarian surge effectively supports localisation in these contexts?