Localisation of Humanitarian Aid Ensuring Efficient and Sustainable Humanitarian Action

Peter Ophoff, Fordham University


The global humanitarian sector is at a cross road. The world is witnessing the biggest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War. The former UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, convened the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016, with a focus on the Agenda for Humanity. The discussions and outcome, thanks to the consultation phase prior to the World Humanitarian Summit, and the inclusion of localization commitments in the Grand Bargain, are a game changer in the overall humanitarian sector. Fifty-five governments, and aid agencies have taken the commitment to ensure that by the year 2020, 25 per cent of their funding would go “as directly as possible” to national and local actors. The signatories are thereby also committed to ensure more equal partnerships between international and national responders, and agreed to more investment in long-term institutional capacity strengthening. Approaching two years since the Summit, the question posed is whether anything has changed? How many new small NGOs show up in the strategic humanitarian response plans? Has there been a multiplication of local actors? How has this inclusion of Localisation of Aid been reached, simply by giving money? Have there been any accompaniment or capacity building? What about accountability? The understanding and acceptance of the commitments and the actual implementation of the localisation agenda is facing some challenges. Frequently when a disaster happens, international humanitarian agencies, guided by their donor governments, appear to be fighting for territory, overpowering the local and national actors in search of the humanitarian imperative and the wider good to alleviate the suffering of the affected communities. Over the last two years, localization has gained substantial prominence as a policy issue in the humanitarian community, largely thanks to the strong impetus of the consultation phase of the World Humanitarian Summit and the inclusion of localization commitments in the Grand Bargain. Local and national actors agree that while efforts have been there has not been sufficient focus on how to develop capacity effectively. How much risk does localisation of humanitarian aid hold? This risk is allegedly aggregated when the ownership of the operation is handed over to a local actor. The main question is whether this risk is greater or lesser when humanitarian action is localised. Localisation of aid is not new. But do we understand the implications?

Subject Area

International Relations

Recommended Citation

Ophoff, Peter, "Localisation of Humanitarian Aid Ensuring Efficient and Sustainable Humanitarian Action" (2018). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10812034.