‘Localisation’ did not originate with the Grand Bargain. The Red Cross and INGO Code of Conduct is two decades old and commits us to “attempt to build disaster response on local capacities”. Similar principles, recommendations and commitments can be found in the Sphere Standards and the Common Humanitarian Standard. Reinforce rather than replace!

Why? The Grand Bargain, drawing on the report of the High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing, argues for ‘localisation’ because it will be more costs-effective. Unfortunately, who gets what share of the money has become a major consideration, and source of resistance to effective localisation. Why would supporting local capacities, to the point that they themselves can handle most crisis responses by themselves, not be a valued strategic objective? Governments, like the ones in Nepal and Indonesia, are also beginning to restrict the number of international relief agencies coming in and taking over. So, do we want to keep aid-recipient countries dependent? Are we trying to sustain and expand our relief business – or work ourselves out of a job?

Listening to over 250 local CSOs allowed GMI to identify seven areas where they often find the relationship with international relief actors frustrating – and where they want to see change. International agencies have roles to play, but local actors want equitable partnerships, with mutual accountability and -where needed- much more effective strengthening of their institutional capacities.