Welcome to AidEx

AidEx is the leading international event for professionals in aid and development. We have two annual events:
Our flagship conference and exhibition in Brussels (16-17 November) and a 2 day Conference in Nairobi (13-14 September)

AidEx encompasses a conference, exhibition, meeting areas, awards and workshops. Its fundamental aim is to engage the sector at every level and provide an annual forum for the visitors to meet, source, supply and learn. Be sure to sign up to our newsletter to get all the latest updates from the sector.

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Photography courtesy
European Commission DG ECHO


AidEx Brussels

AidEx is the leading international event dedicated to the unique needs of development and aid professionals across the world; held over two days annually at Brussels Expo, in Belgium.

AidEx is recognised as a major platform for networking, making new contacts and doing business. By taking part, you will forge new relationships in the community, raise awareness of your organisation and be involved in the sourcing of new solutions to improve the efficiency of aid delivery.


AidEx Africa

Now in it's fourth year, AidEx Africa is a two-day high-profile conference which takes place annually in Nairobi, Kenya. AidEx Africa was developed as a satellite event to the already well-established AidEx conference and exhibition for humanitarian and development aid, held each year in Brussels.

AidEx Africa attracts over 300 delegates from the Government of Kenya, UN agencies, Kenyan Red Cross and leading NGOs from Africa and beyond.

Every year, we choose a conference theme for AidEx that we hope reflects the most interesting and current conversations taking place in the humanitarian and development sectors. In this sixth year of the event, we’ve opted for ‘localisation’, which I broadly define as the ongoing effort to give communities in need of aid and development assistance a more decisive role in shaping what this assistance looks like.

local 260The need to empower local communities in the aid delivery process is clear. At the recent World Humanitarian Summit, international donors agreed to direct 25% of all humanitarian funding “as directly as possible” towards local and national agencies. This would be a significant improvement on the current 4% threshold. 27 international NGOs also agreed to a new Charter4Change, committing to passing on 20% of their funding to national NGOs by 2018. 

I think this is all a step in the right direction. But to be truly effective, localisation needs to go well beyond delivery of aid. To start with, what do we mean when we use the term ‘local’? For instance, when we’re talking about the ‘local’ population in a country which plays host to thousands of refugees (each of whom can spend up to an average of 20 years in a camp such as Dadaab or Al Zaatari), this clearly includes both the refugees and the ‘native’ population. But the two often exist in very separate spheres. The challenge then becomes, how to reconcile the needs of both community, and bring both into the decision-making process?

And while we’re on the topic of what counts as local, there’s also a very practical issue: at what point does a long-term refugee become a local resident? It could be argued that it isn’t a matter of time or location; that a refugee remains a refugee for as long as they are dependent on external aid in a country other than their own. But how do we reconcile this with the fact that unlike other immigrants or ‘expats’, refugees rarely have the opportunity to establish themselves within the fabric of their host country or to contribute economically by working, for instance? Instead, most remain in a state of limbo; for all intents and purposes, physically in a country but not part of it.
Finally, I also think we need to take a long-hard look at the overlap between aid and development, which inevitably encompasses issues related to localisation.

With urbanisation, climate change and mass migration increasing apace, it’s clear that home-grown solutions will be vital for strengthening resilience and supporting local economies to withstand all manner of disasters. This means giving affected communities the tools and resources to tackle challenges in the way that works best for them, rather than dictating solutions from afar. It means the international aid community looking more closely at how to procure locally, in order to support long-term economic development. And it means striking the right balance between trusting local knowledge and providing external expertise to communities in crisis.

To me, the fact that we are having these kinds of discussions strongly suggests that today’s humanitarian system “was designed for yesterday’s problems, not tomorrow’s”, as David Miliband, President of the International Rescue Committee, put it recently. We’ll be continuing these discussions and discussing possible solutions at AidEx in November, but in the meantime, let me know what you think ‘going local’ means and let’s keep the conversation going.

If you would like to register for AidEx Brussels 2016, you can do so here for free.


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