Since the World Humanitarian Summit in May there has been increasing talk about the localisation of humanitarian responses.
The first thing to note is that when we talk about localisation, what we are really talking about is the localisation of leadership and control of funding. When emergencies are responded to, it has always been affected communities themselves that are doing the bulk of the work to preserve life and livelihoods.
It is not as though international actors do all of the humanitarian work and that work needs to be increasingly passed on to local groups or communities. In terms of who does the work, emergency response has always been localised.
What we are talking about is leadership and control of funding.
At the moment only a tiny fraction of international humanitarian funding goes to local organisations. The Global Humanitarian Assistance report from last year says that ‘of total international humanitarian assistance, only 0.2% went directly to local and national NGOs and 3.1% to the governments of affected states’.
Out of every 1000 kyat of donor funding for emergencies, only 2 kyat goes directly to local groups.
How this money is spent is then overwhelmingly determined by UN agencies and international NGOs, who take the key leadership roles. Yet it is also more than just money. Systems of coordination and information gathering are also dominated by UN agencies and international NGOs.
What does local leadership mean in this context? What are the obstacles to more locally led emergency responses?
Yet from the other side, is more localisation in the humanitarian sector necessarily a good thing? Would responses be more or less effective if they were more locally led?
In the coming weeks, especially around World Humanitarian Day on August 19, we will be looking at this question of how emergency response can be more locally led. We will be speaking to people in international NGOs, UN agencies and local groups about what they think ‘localisation’ means in Myanmar.
And we want you to be part of the conversation too.
Follow the hashtag #CharterforChange and the PK Forum in the next couple of weeks and have your say.