How does localisation fit into the bigger picture?  

Project: Learning Project 6th March 2018

In the upcoming global conference ‘Preparing for Shock: Is Preparedness the New Frontier?’ taking place in Geneva on 14th and 15th March, we will explore enabling approaches and obstacles to sustainable preparedness programming and hear from local implementing staff, national networks, global programmers and researchers who have first-hand knowledge on these areas. For more information about the conference, please visit our event page here.

In this blog post leading up to our conference, Shahana Hayat, Country Learning Advisor for Bangladesh and former Talent Development project staff, reflects on how localisation fits into the bigger picture within preparedness and humanitarian response.

What do we mean by localisation?  

Localisation of aid has generated a lot of interest amongst humanitarian actors, particularly after the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in 2016. The localisation work stream in the Grand Bargain highlights the following key aspects:

  • Building institutional capacity for preparedness, coordination and response
  • Reducing partnership bureaucracy to join hands with local responders
  • Strengthening national and international coordination mechanisms
  • Ensuring 25% direct funding to local actors by 2020
  • Establishing localisation markers to measure progress
  • Creating pooled funds for flexible funding approaches


How does localisation fit into the bigger picture?  

Dialogues on localisation often include direct funding, capacity building, equal partnership, visibility, collaboration, and participation – all of which are important when thinking about how to put localisation into practice. However, understanding how localisation fits into the bigger picture is equally as important.

Therefore, I would like to highlight three big picture themes that challenge us to unpack localisation in light of human rights and humanitarian law, capacity development, and gender equality programming.

Scenario 1: Sovereignty and international concerns

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights brought human rights into the realm of international law. Since then, nation states and organisations are under ethical and legal obligation to protect human rights on the ground. The fundamental question is whether violation of human rights issues should or should not be a matter of international concern for the sake of territorial sovereignty. For example, in light of the Rohingya crisis, we need to ask:

  • How must national, regional and international coordination mechanisms function so they maintain a balance between sovereignty and international concerns?
  • How can these mechanisms be improved so they protect the rights of Rohingya?


Scenario 2: Capacity development in conflict

It is recognised that there is a continued need for international surge to address large-scale humanitarian emergencies, such as the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh or the earthquake in Haiti. The United Nations system and international humanitarian organizations are ethically committed to cooperate with the Bangladesh Haitian governments to provide humanitarian assistance to the affected population. In this context, we need to think about:

  • How could international experts join hands with local responders so that local governments and actors do not feel disempowered or citizens do not lose confidence in national governments?
  • How can international experts take the opportunity to build local actors’ capacity for preparedness, coordination and response and strengthen local surge?


Scenario 3: Gender (in)equality and Core Humanitarian Standards

We are well aware of gender disparity in developing countries. The armed conflict in Yemen has led the entire population into a humanitarian crisis, but due to existing gender inequality, women and girls in Yemen face different challenges to men. And such vulnerability of women and girls prevails in many parts of world which are affected by disasters. This requires us to consider:

  • What types of humanitarian programmes /actors should be given direct funding?
  • What needs to change in humanitarian programming in order to ensure the highest quality and greatest impact?

It would be interesting to hear thoughts from others involved in either the DEPP or similar programmes. We’d love to hear your comments to take the localisation discussion to another level for better preparedness


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