Humanitarian Practice Network

Localisation and local humanitarian action

The theme of this edition of Humanitarian Exchange is localisation and local humanitarian action. Five years ago this week, donors, United Nations (UN) agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) committed within the Grand Bargain to increase multi-year investments in the institutional capacities of local and national responders, and to provide at least 25% of humanitarian funding to them as directly as possible. Since then, there is increasing consensus at policy and normative level, underscored by the Covid-19 pandemic, that local leadership should be supported. Localisation has gone from a fringe conversation among policy-makers and aid agencies in 2016 to a formal priority under the Grand Bargain. Wider global movements on anti-racism and decolonisation have also brought new momentum to critical reflections on where power, knowledge and capacity reside in the humanitarian system. Yet progress has been slow and major gaps remain between the rhetoric around humanitarian partnerships, funding and coordination and practices on the ground.