It is widely believed that the practice of INGOs recruiting national staff, particularly in support of humanitarian response, can undermine national NGO capacity, but there has been very limited analysis about the ways in which it affects local NGOs’ ability to respond to crises themselves or the impact that it has on their ability to retain high quality staff. This phenomenon is not new or novel and has periodically gained prominence (most notably in the evaluation of the Indian Ocean Tsunami response in 2006) but it has never received sufficient attention to galvanise policy or practice changes on the part of the international organisations that perpetuate it. The issue most recently came to prominence during the Typhoon Haiyan response in the Philippines and the Nepal earthquake response where research on humanitarian partnerships once again highlighted the challenges faced by the flight of front-line surge staff from national to international organisations.
In the consultations leading to the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS), significant attention was placed on the important role that national actors play in crisis response linked to a concern that members of the international humanitarian system could do far more to stop hindering and to help national humanitarian action. Potential actions that could be taken to re-balance the system more in favour of national actors have been grouped under the banner of ‘localisation’ which seeks to promote a re-calibrated system which works to the relevant strengths of its constituent parts and enhances partnership approaches to humanitarian actors.
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