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30 October 2023 - News


WASO Resource Development Agency(WARDA) , our local partner in Wajir County conducting a health outreach activity with support from Save the Children. Photo Courtesy| Peddy Oniang’o

By Yvonne Arunga,

Country Director for Kenya and Madagascar and Save the Children’s Global Sponsor for Localisation

Localising humanitarian response (or localisation) is a process of recognising, respecting and strengthening the leadership by local authorities and the capacity of local civil society in humanitarian action, in order to better address the needs of affected populations and to prepare national actors for future humanitarian responses.

In Save the Children we extend the concept of localisation to cover both humanitarian and development actions. The idea is to empower local communities and organizations (Save the Children we refers to them as L/NAs – local and national actors) to take the lead in determining their own humanitarian and development needs and solutions and to increase their participation in the leadership, planning, implementation and evaluation of aid programmes.

The concept of localisation is not new in the aid sector. Discussions on aid effectiveness and localisation first started during the Ethiopian famine in the 1980s. Localisation was discussed again in 2005 at the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. The concept was then picked up at subsequent international meetings and finally formalized at the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016, where UN agencies, international NGOs and donors came together to sign the Grand Bargain.

The Grand Bargain is a set of commitments made by some of the largest donors, humanitarian organizations and states aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of humanitarian aid. The ultimate goal of the Grand Bargain is to ensure that aid reaches those in need more quickly, effectively and efficiently and that the humanitarian system is better equipped to respond to the needs of those affected by crises.

The Grand Bargain currently has 65 signatories (25 Member States, 24 NGOs, 12 UN agencies, 2 Red Cross movements and two inter-governmental organizations). Save the Children signed up to the Grand Bargain in 2018.                                

To meet our 2030 ambition to ensure that all children survive, learn and are protected and in line with the aspiration of the Grand Bargain, Save the Children recognizes the fundamental role that   L/NAs, including government and civil society play in promoting and advancing children’s rights. Our 2022 – 2024 Global Strategy has four goals and six enablers. One enabler is about localisation, it is called ‘Shifting Power to children, communities and local actors’.

Save the Children believes that shifting power (including resources, capacity and ownership to national and local actors) will result in more timely, appropriate and effective outcomes for the children most impacted by inequality and discrimination and better fulfil the rights of children. We know that localisation, local ownership and locally led development are fundamental to rethinking and changing the aid and solidarity system (development and humanitarian); to be better fit for purpose, to address structural challenges internally and to decide where we work.

This is why the localisation agenda is important for Save the Children Kenya and Madagascar Country Office.