What we are reading

Valuing local knowledge and solutions for SDG progress

In this sixteenth interview of the “17 Rooms” podcast, Jamie Drummond and Kennedy Odede discuss shifts in power, process, and funding to uplift proximate leaders and value local knowledge and community-based solutions. Drummond, co-founder of ONE and Odede, CEO and co-founder of Shining Hope for Communities, moderated Room 11 focused on Sustainable Development Goal number 11—on sustainable cities and communities—during the 2021 17 Rooms flagship process.

Opinion: 5 ways to decolonize global health and build greater equity

As a health economist from Ghana, I’m often asked about my take on the decolonization of global health.

For me, any discussion of decolonization brings to mind Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah, who — along with other African liberation leaders — spearheaded the decolonization of other countries on the continent.

Opinion: Africa will flourish if we invest in its young people

Growing up in Zimbabwe, “wakangwara semurungu,” a Shona phrase that means “wise white person,” was a typical compliment given if you did well in school or looked particularly chic — for example, “You’re so smart, like a white person.” To this day, similar anecdotes can be found throughout African countries. Behaving like a white person, thinking like a white person, or looking like a white person was the yardstick used to measure a person’s worth.

Heart-led Philanthropy to Improve Financial and Social Returns on Investment

Can philanthropy deliver what is expected?

Much has been written about the role philanthropy could play in resetting our fractured and extraordinarily polarised modern world. However, there are disagreements about the way forward. Great resets being mooted. New economic systems. Technology that will save the day. New apps that can entice, cajole, and inform students across the spectrum. Increasing numbers of global forums and think-tanks. Yet, very little is changing.

Four radical shifts towards decolonising aid

Two 5am starts followed by 16 hours of screen time. Yet by the end of the 2021 Humanitarian Leadership Conference, ‘energised’ was the word I used to sum up my feelings. Quite a feat!
Hosted by the Centre for Humanitarian Leadership at Deakin University, the conference challenged delegates to critically reflect on the humanitarian status quo. Speakers and participants dialled in from across the globe. There were representatives from local civil society organisations and large international agencies (INGOs), plus a whole host of individuals, from academics and journalists, to poets and at least one musician!

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.