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Humanitarian Aid on the move # 19, special issue: Aid localisation

Localisation: moving from commitments to implementation
Kirsten Hagon

Key word: Point of view /

 The role of the workstream

We see the role of workstream 2 of the Grand Bargain on more support and funding tools for local and national responders as a means for signatories to work together to bridge these potential gaps. It should facilitate implementation of these commitments, including through facilitating agreement on common terms and approaches, disseminating best practices and collaboratively developing guidance. We also want to ensure transparency of the work of the workstream and to ensure that the voices of local actors are heard and able to influence the discussions, not only there, but in other Grand Bargain workstreams.

 Facilitating the conversation

There has been significant global interest in this issue. We are aware of a number of national level initiatives to hold national conversations to discuss what localization means in their context and what they would like to see change in terms of greater support to local and national humanitarian actors. At the same time, there have also been national and regional level research projects asking this question (see, for example, the research by the Australian Red Cross: https://www.redcross.org.au/getmedia/fa37f8eb-51e7-4ecd-ba2f-d1587574d6d5/ARC-Localisation-report-Electronic-301017.pdf.aspx). The workstream organized 3 global level multi-stakeholder meetings over 2016 and 2017 to explore what localization can and should look like, how to move forward on implementation, what it means for local actors in particular (giving them a platform to raise their suggestions and concerns with signatories).

The challenge now is connecting all of these conversations - national, regional and global conversations - ensuring that each is aware of the other and can influence each other.

Moving forward, the workstream has agreed to include some representative local actors in regular teleconferences and hopes to include them in all activities under the workplan. The workstream also aims to hold a number of webinars, open to anyone who can access an internet connection, in order to inform interested stakeholders around the world of what is happening at the global level and invite those who have been engaging on this issue to share their work and opinions via the website (still being developed). Language is going to be a key issue that will need to be addressed, which will be challenging given limited resources, so we will be seeking creative solutions to this.

 Clarifying the commitments

One of the most important commitments of the grand bargain is to achieve, by 2020, a global, aggregated target of at least 25 per cent of humanitarian funding to local and national responders, as directly as possible. However, the text does not explain precisely what “directly as possible” means, in terms of funding or who is considered to be a “local or national actor”. Acting in support of the workstream, the IASC Humanitarian Financing Task Team established a working group that looked into this issue, surveying a large number of stakeholders (including many local and national actors) in order to develop proposed definitions. Any definitions that are chosen have implications for what signatories are committed to, therefore it was essential that all signatories agree to the definitions. After substantial discussion, a definition of local and national actors was agreed and the decision was made to track funding that goes directly from donors to local and national actors, funding that goes via a pooled fund and funding that goes via one intermediary, before making a final decision on whether or not one intermediary would or would not be considered as direct as possible.