You could feel the excitement in the air as over 100 participants from Asia, Africa and the UK gathered in the Oakwood Premier Center in Manila for the DEPP Regional Learning Conference. Building on the momentum of the WHS one year anniversary, all were eager to hear how the programme is contributing to the Grand Bargain and discuss what the buzzword “localisation” really means in practice.
Today’s sessions were focused on the Asia region with presentations from the Philippines, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Pakistan. There was plenty of food for thought! Here are the highlights:
After a warm welcome by Regional Learning Advisor Shahida Arif, Benedict Balderrama and Dr Meshesha Shewarega set the scene in their opening speeches and reminded us that localisation is a process that varies depending on context and culture. They addressed the differences in the roles of local actors in the Philippines and Ethiopia and highlighted the need to do more to remove structural barriers.
Alexandra Pura noted that the best measure of humanitarian capacity building is to test it in a crisis. A video documentary of how the DEPP has benefited the Marawi Response illustrated the different ways in which projects contributed to the response. It also highlighted the possibilities that lie in collaboration – and inspired us to continue working in this way!
From Shahana Hayat we heard that the voices of the marginalised need to be recognised as critical when designing interventions. Our panellists from Bangladesh shared their reflections on investing in gender initiatives and better data management for improved response, but what really stood out was the notion that it’s absolutely crucial to strengthen linkages between humanitarian response and development programmes in order to build resilience.
Mark Bidder from UN OCHA gave us a quick overview of the evolution of the international humanitarian architecture. He emphasised that in this ecosystem INGOs and L/NNGOs need each other to work effectively. He encouraged local actors to continue lobbying for access to global humanitarian decision-making forums, and admitting that bureaucracy is a challenge, light-heartedly reminded us that “meeting needs, needs meetings.”
We heard stories from Myanmar: successes and challenges of running a protection pilot in Kachin State and how collaboration between local partners and an intergovernmental meteorological institution, the Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Africa and Asia, is strengthening preparedness systems of communities in conflict-affected villages. Of course, this doesn’t come without its challenges, the biggest being the difficulty to sustain capacity development within the limited project time-frame (something we are all thinking about).
Sana Zulfiqar from the National Humanitarian Network inspired us with approaches the network is using to lead localisation efforts in country. She encouraged us to do more than just use the buzzword – instead we need to create a clear roadmap for localisation!
Angela Rouse from the CDAC Network brought us back to the Grand Bargain and reminded us of the participation revolution – keeping communities at the heart – and the urgency of creating a system that is less top-heavy and more democratic.
Lisa Joerke shared lessons from the Transforming Surge Capacity regional roster, emphasising that improved surge requires both individual and organisational capacity building. We were left to consider the following: how do we strengthen linkages between international and humanitarian actors to make localisation efforts sustainable, and where exactly are those linkages most useful?
Elizabeth Smith and Darja Markek concluded the day by presenting key findings from the 2016 Learning Report, highlighting the main successes, challenges and learnings that have emerged from the programme so far. Darja also presented the Digital Learning Platform, an easy-to-use resource to document what works and doesn’t in capacity building. Sign up to share your learnings and continue the conversations we’ve started today in the forums!
Sharing and connecting with others is a key part of these events and it was great to see participants engaging with each other and building new partnerships during the breaks and Networking, Linking & Learning Sessions. More of this to come tomorrow!
Do we have a better understanding of what localisation means? Or is it not as easy to pin down as we thought? We’re looking forward to exploring this further on Day Two! We’ll be live-streaming again here thanks to the Humanitarian Leadership Academy and you can follow the action on Twitter under the hashtag #LocalisationInAsia
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