This year’s conference explores how people in humanitarian crisis situations can get the support that they need. Indeed, the response that humanitarian actors plan is not always the response that meets people’s needs the most effectively. Demographic factors and specific cultural attitudes and practices shape the priorities of those affected by the crisis, but traditional humanitarians generally have difficulty understanding these and taking them into account in their programmes. Crises in different environments – such as urban contexts and middle income countries – test the relevance of traditional humanitarian work methods.