What we are reading

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.

Educators As First Responders: How Locally-Led Humanitarian Action is Key to Ensuring Children Aren’t Left Behind

In April 2021, more than 1000 delegates from across 80 countries came together at the Humanitarian Leadership Conference to determine where change is needed in the aid sector and what a reshaping of the humanitarian ecosystem might look like. Given their work in emergency contexts, the CEOs of three Teach For All network partners were invited to speak on a panel moderated by Dr. Randa Grob-Zakhary, the CEO of Insights for Education. Throughout the panel discussion, Larisa Hovannisian, CEO of Teach For Armenia; Salyne El Samarany, CEO of Teach For Lebanon; and Clarissa Delgado, CEO of Teach for the Philippines, challenged the efficacy of traditional humanitarian systems and explored how to move from rhetoric to action through systemic change.

Time to Decolonise Aid

In November 2020, Peace Direct, Adeso, the Alliance for Peacebuilding, and Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security held a three-day online consultation with 158 activists, decisionmakers, academics, journalists and practitioners across the globe. Participants and guest contributors exchanged insights and local experiences on the current power dynamics and imbalances that exist within the humanitarian, development and peacebuilding sectors. They discussed how structural racism manifests itself in their work, and how they envision a decolonised system that is truly inclusive and responds to their needs. The consultation received more than 350 detailed comments across nine discussion threads. This report presents the findings and recommendations from that consultation.

Nurturing African Leadership

Africa is very rich in natural resources and has the youngest population of any continent. If we can make the most of this abundance, we can create shared prosperity on the continent. To do so will require leadership across all levels of our societies. What is leadership?

Trusting Community-based Learning Ecosystems

European School of Governance, position paper #25 by Louis Klein |
Community-based learning ecosystems lie at the very heart of our understanding of the world, of its being and of its transformation. Being immersed in community-based learning ecosystems is a shared experience for all of us. By trusting this as an invitation to a process of inquiry, learning, and understanding, we begin to live out our human potential and realise our humanity. We will witness how a humanising society grows from metamorphic niches in learning communities. And it will change our understanding of learning and understanding, of development and transformation, and the roles of those who want to change the world.

How Covid could be the ‘long overdue’ shake-up needed by the aid sector

This year one in every 33 people across the world will need humanitarian assistance. That is a rise of 40% from last year, according to the UN. More than half of the countries requiring aid to help deal with the coronavirus pandemic are already in protracted crises, coping with conflict or natural disasters. Even before Covid-19 threw decades of progress on extreme poverty, healthcare and education into… Read More »How Covid could be the ‘long overdue’ shake-up needed by the aid sector

Why it’s time for international development to put people first

The international development community needs to shift its approach from intervening to solve problems to developing local leadership; People in developing contexts should be encouraged and given the skills to define their own challenges and identify solutions; The experiences of Teach For America and Teach For All offer ideas for how to make this change. It is high time for international development actors to shift… Read More »Why it’s time for international development to put people first

For the global development community, 7 predictions for 2021

This past year has been a lesson in the challenges of predicting. For the global development community, the best laid plans of the so-called “Decade of Action” had to be shelved as the coronavirus pandemic swamped every other issue. Maybe this year will be no different. Nonetheless, it’s worth it to at least try to look ahead and see what may be coming in 2021 for global development… Read More »For the global development community, 7 predictions for 2021

Systems Don’t Have Agency: Putting People First in 2021

By all accounts, 2020 was a watershed year for the term “systemic inequity.” It burst onto the scene amidst pandemic and protest, showing up in public conversations across a range of sectors. This is a very welcome development for those of us who have long been beating the drum for the messy, complex work that is systems change.