The idea that local actors should be at the forefront of humanitarian response in their own country is increasingly widely accepted. Local actors often have the best understanding of the context and acceptance by the people in need of assistance and protection. The World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in 2016 brought significant attention to a localisation agenda, and the Grand Bargain confirmed a commitment from the largest humanitarian donors and aid organisations to take steps to make sure national and local organisations are involved in decision-making processes in a humanitarian response, and are delivering assistance in accordance with humanitarian principles.
Localisation, particularly the engagement of local actors in decision-making bodies, has consistently been mentioned as a challenge for HCs in many Peer-2-Peer missions. Despite recent international advocacy efforts, local actors still only receive approximately 2% of all humanitarian funds. On the other hand, critics raise concerns over the inability of local actors to operate in a principled manner as well as fulfil due diligence and quality requirements.
Localisation Learning Mission
The Peer-2-Peer Project organised a learning mission to Gaziantep (Turkey) to look at how the humanitarian leadership of the cross-border operation to northern Syria had prioritised a localisation agenda, and had put a significant effort into making sure national/local NGOs were strategically and operationally integrated in the humanitarian response. The mission was organised and carried out with the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), who are the co-chair of the Grand Bargain Workstream on Localisation. The mission was carried out on the invitation of the Deputy Regional Humanitarian Coordinator (Dep. RHC) for the Whole of Syria operation.
The Peer-2-Peer Project produced a short and accessible case study in the form of a ‘Support Note on Localisation‘ for HCs and HCTs, illustrating the steps that the humanitarian leadership took, in Gaziantep, to strengthen the integration of national and local NGOs in the cross-border response in a principled manner. The practical note, Supporting Principled Local Action in Humanitarian Response, is just five pages and can act as a quick guide for Humanitarian Coordinators (HCs) and Humanitarian Country Teams (HCTs) to strengthen the role of national and local actors in humanitarian response.
Peer-2-Peer webinars on localisation
The Peer-2-Peer Project also hosted a webinar on localisation with the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator (RC/HC) from Pakistan, and a senior representative from the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Head of IFRC’s East Asia Country Support Office. The webinar highlighted some practical steps which can be employed to strengthen the role of national and local actors in humanitarian response. the Peer-2-Peer Project produced a produced a short and accessible webinar summary which captures the main points and may be useful for the leadership in other operations.
It is important to recognise that strengthening the leadership of local actors will have different challenges depending on whether it is being implemented in a natural disaster or a conflict setting. The Peer-2-Peer team works to identify concrete examples of how the comparative advantages of international, national, and local humanitarian actors have been optimised to strengthen humanitarian preparedness and response. The team is currently preparing a note on localisation.