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Hello, my name is Hamidullah Ahmady working as the Program
Director for CEDO Afghanistan. My presentation is about localization of humanitarian
aid and its significance for the future of the humanitarian domain.

The concept is of particular interest
to me, because, I work for a local NGO that actively advocate for localization
since long time. We have had quite a number of policy debates on the subject
with key donors and other humanitarian stakeholders over the last 2 years. 

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My presentation will cover key operational aspects of the
localization including the definition of what localization entails, what a
localized response is, why it is important, how to promote it and what
long-term impact it brings in the humanitarian domain. 


The role of local humanitarian actors in humanitarian
response has been discussed among in the policy analysts for many years. The
importance of working with local actors is discussed in a number of
international events and is reflected in many of the key documents, including
the General Assembly resolution 146/82, the Red Cross Code of Conduct and the
principles of Good Humanitarian Donorship.  The Grand Bargain of the
World Humanitarian Summit 2016 had a significant influence in raising awareness
and promoting  the localization agenda.   

Evaluations of a number of humanitarian responses in the
past decade revealed that international actors who are most often slow,
inefficient and ineffective in providing a timely and effective humanitarian response
dominate the humanitarian domain. The complexity of crises calls for a review
of the current practices. National government, local NGOs and other grassroots civil
society actors are in a better position to work with crises affected people in
their communities. Building capacity of these local actors is critical in order
to establish an effective, sustainable, locally owned and managed humanitarian response
domain with ability to respond quickly and efficiently to crises.


There is not yet a globally accepted definition of aid
localization. To consider key components of the concept, OECD define localization
as  the process of recognizing,
respecting and strengthening the leadership by local authorities and the
capacity of local civil society in humanitarian action, in order to better
address the needs of affected populations and to prepare national actors for
future humanitarian responses.

response is
the one when a local humanitarian responder is involved in the entire programme
cycle: needs assessments, programme design and delivery and final review and

Methodology of the

The analysis and recommendation below are based on a
review of the relevant literature such as evaluations, report, and policy paper,
my experience and involvement in the subject and consultations with colleagues
who are actively advocating for localization agenda.   

Why is
localization important?

Humanitarian action by local actors is faster, relevant,
efficient and encompasses much stronger accountability to the affected
populations. Below are the main reason why localization is important.

response and access:  local humanitarian actors
are in close proximity to the affected populations, they can respond quickly.
They can respond to the many small-scale crises that are under the threshold of
international intervention. A landslide in a remote rural area may cause
immense loses to lives and livelihood, but may not attract response from
international actors due to low visibly and media access. 

Acceptance: it
is always a challenge for international organization and foreigners to access
crises affected communities especially in contexts of political crises due to a
wide range of misconceptions about foreigners. In these contexts, local
responders have more acceptances from local people, armed groups or local

effectiveness: Actions of local responders are more efficient. My
experience working with International and local actors reveal a huge difference
in costs. A 3 days field mission to Mazar, in northern Afghanistan to do an
assessment was in the range of USD 3,000 while I was working for UNICEF. The
same mission to Mazar was budgeted in the range of USD 200-250 when I was working
for CEDO (a local NGO). 

with development: Direct support to a local humanitarian responder can
increase national capacity and responsibility.   For
example, A program to support government    social
safety net can absorb shocks in case of a natural disaster, development co-
operation goals are aligned with humanitarian preparedness.

accountability:  International
actors are often accountable to their donors more than the beneficiaries, even
if they have set mechanisms for participation. However, when aid is provided by
local humanitarian responders who are well rooted in society, affected
populations are often more vigilant, asking for better quality goods and
services, be they national NGOs and/or local government, which can increase

security challenges for international aid workers and agencies is another key
reason of increased interest in working through local actors.

measures can help accelerate localization of humanitarian response 

analytical capacity:  Donors need the
capacity to interact with local humanitarian responders including assessment of
the partners’ financial, administrative and operational capacities.  

structure: Direct support to local humanitarian responders requires
donor capacity at the field level. To do this properly, the donor needs to
ensure that their staff in the field has sufficient decision making authority
and capacity to engage with local humanitarian responders, analyze the context
and administer grants.   

Flexibility: A local actor who is already partnering with a donor on
development projects can also be involved in the response to humanitarian
needs. This requires sufficient flexibility from the donor to insert crisis
modifiers in the grant with its local development partner. Crisis modifiers are
provisions included into the grant agreement that, in times of crisis, allow the
local actor to move funds from development activities to crisis response.

administrative capacity: donors need to develop contracting
processes that are appropriately rigorous, but do not create an excessive
administrative burden for local humanitarian responders or for donor
humanitarian staff. Donors can do this through using and adapting existing
contractual arrangements they have with their local or national development

investment: Building local capacity is a long-term investment, local capacity
decrease the delay in response time during emergencies.  

legal restrictions:  National
legislation or political constraints in countries in crisis can also prevent
local NGOs and CSOs from receiving foreign funds, in which case direct funding
is not possible. In such cases, donors may instead use their diplomatic voice
to attempt to overcome these domestic legislative barriers.

How to
provide ‘as direct as possible’ support to local humanitarian responders

When donor cannot work directly with local humanitarian
responders, there are alternative ways to support aid localization, these include:

Channeling funds through an international partner to pass on funds to their local partners, ?

Supporting pooled
funds led by the UN, World Bank or NGOs, when they are accessible to local
humanitarian responders, ?

Delegated co-operation to
other donors. ?In all such cases, the donor should aim to ensure that a
fair partnership exists between the local humanitarian responder and its direct
funding provider. Such an arrangement was put in place for EU support to civil
society program in Afghanistan.    

in “localization” within the humanitarian sector

Grand Bargain, Commitment 2 (Grand
Bargain, 2016)

The Grand Bargain highlight support and funding tools for
local and national responders. It highlight in particular a) a
global, aggregated target of at least 25 per cent of humanitarian funding to
local and national responders as directly as possible by 2020; b) Make greater
use of funding tools which increase and improve assistance delivered by local
and national responders, such as UN-led country-based pooled funds (CBPF), IFRC
Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) and NGO- led and other pooled funds.



Humanitarian Donorship, Principle 8   

Strengthen the capacity of affected countries and
communities to prevent, prepare for, mitigate and respond to humanitarian
crises, with the goal of ensuring that governments and local communities are
better able to meet their responsibilities and co-ordinate effectively with
humanitarian partners

Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR, 2015)

There is a need for focused action within and across sectors
by States at local, national, regional and global levels in four specific
priority areas.   


of main points 

The Grand Bargain of the World Humanitarian Summit 206 and
other campaigns related to localization of humanitarian aid are having a
significant influence in raising awareness among local and national actors of
their role in humanitarian response.   The
concept is increasingly gaining support from wide variety of humanitarian actors.    

The presentation discussed key reason why localization is
important, what has been done and what needs to be done to shift leadership of
humanitarian response from international actors to local responders.  With the recent commitment by key donors, funding
to local responders is going to reach 25% by 2020 and is expected to grow
further. I believe this will take time, as localization requires capacity of
local actors, which takes time to develop.  

This research presentation has highlighted some of the key
operational considerations in promoting the localization agenda.   The future of the sector and whether
localization of humanitarian response will reach to 75% in future, and how long
it will take depends on how stakeholders manage to meet the commitments of the
grand bargain.  Achieving the targets
also depends on the political well of donors, as localization requires a shift
in power relations between actors, both in terms of strategic decision-making
and control of resources. 



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