Within the humanitarian system, there is growing momentum to support a more proactive and dignified approach to crises. The capacity of local actors to lead humanitarian action is increasingly being acknowledged, and there is growing recognition of their role in enabling early, rapid response to ensure more effective and sustainable interventions.
Despite this, ALNAP’s 2022 State of the Humanitarian System report revealed that the percentage of direct international humanitarian funding to national and local actors decreased from 3.3% in 2018 to 1.2% in 2021. The humanitarian sector continues to grapple with global commitments to increase support for locally led humanitarian action. The system is not changing quickly enough and is seemingly resistant to change.
In the 2022 Pakistan floods and conflict in Ukraine, the initial response was – as is often the case - led by local actors. Similarly, local actors are at the forefront of early action in contexts such as the Philippines and Somalia. However, the opacity of financing and a lack of access to transparent and accountable funding instruments across the formal humanitarian financing system results in locally led action being curtailed, to the detriment of affected populations.
Country-level, national NGO-led bodies, such as Start Network hubs, are platforms for change that demonstrate the power of local actors in delivering appropriate, timely, and relevant early action and response initiatives. Their engagement with the Start Fund and Start Ready initiatives has demonstrated that approaches to enabling locally led humanitarian action exist and are impactful.
In addition, local and national organisations, play in most of the cases the role of implementers; delivering programmes designed entirely by donors and INGOs. This misses the inputs and learning coming from crisis-affected communities and local organisations that should be leading rather than following.
Objective of the Session:
This session aims to provide an improved understanding of the gaps that prevent local organisations from accessing the financing that would enable them to continue leading humanitarian action, and funding practices that have demonstrated approaches to meaningfully engage with local actors.
Key questions will include:
· How do different funding flows that support humanitarian action interact to effectively build resilience, and what might a new model look like?
· How are decisions being made with regard to where funding goes and when, with the meaningful engagement of local actors?
· How do these questions play out in the context of insufficient humanitarian funding and what are the implications for the effective role of local actors?
· What should be the involvement of local actors and local communities into the design of programmes?
This session will provide insight into the changes required for humanitarian financing to result in greater impact, citing examples that have proven to be more transparent, accessible, and accountable to local actors at the forefront of action.