After years of inaction on the emergency aid sector’s promises to shift power and funding, grassroots groups are finding their own workarounds.
During a wide-ranging panel moderated by The New Humanitarian on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last week, aid leaders described how local organisations are taking matters into their own hands.
They’re collaborating with each other to share resources, instead of competing for the same dwindling pots of money. They’re working with new donors willing to back new types of faster local funding – which they believe can be a model for the humanitarian sector’s biggest donor governments.
“We're on this path of trying to figure out: What can we do? What kind of infrastructure can we build to be able to get resources to local actors?” said Hibak Kalfan, executive director of the Network for Empowered Aid Response.
“We as a Global South have to come up with our own solutions to our own problems and we're trying to do that,” said Degan Ali, executive director of the Kenya-based non-profit, Adeso.
The frank conversation also delved into differing views on what “radical” reform entails, how local and international organisations are treated differently when fraud scandals are unearthed, and why it’s harder than ever to convince donor governments to invest in aid.
Listen to what they had to say during the discussion:
- Degan Ali (@DeganAli), Executive Director, Adeso
- Christina Bennett (@cr_bennett), Chief Executive, Start Network
- Farouq Habib (@Farouq_Habib), Deputy General Manager and Head of External Affairs, The White Helmets
- Hibak Kalfan (@NEAR_Network), Executive Director, Network for Empowered Aid Response (NEAR)
- Rory Stewart (@RoryStewartUK), President, GiveDirectly
@NEAR_Network Exec Hibak Kalfan shares a vision for future aid financing on todays panel: 🎤collaborative, connected, locally-led, and adaptable funds. If you haven’t joined, make sure to listen to the recording @newhumanitarian https://t.co/PwDwd7uwQ6 pic.twitter.com/jVSi3aCyms
— Anita Kattakuzhy (@anitakatt) September 19, 2023
Thanks @newhumanitarian for creating a space for discussion and interaction on #trust and #localisation with great panelists including @DeganAli @cr_bennett @Farouq_Habib, Hibak from @NEAR_Network @USAID and @RoryStewartUK https://t.co/vA4b7bKKOF
— Yolande Wright (@WrightYolande) September 20, 2023
Many 🙏 to .@newhumanitarian .@illied for candid, lively
Discussion about #localization
Aid, decision-making & power.
a “gloves-off” conversation, but a needed one.
More direct funding to local orgs a steep hill but one we have to climb together. https://t.co/cRmTI2BpSp
— Marcia Wong (@marciakimwong) September 20, 2023
Thanks @newhumanitarian for a real, honest, informed debate amongst #humanitarian NGOs committed to shifting power to local orgs. @CAREGlobal echoes @DeganAli ‘s appeal to donors for “extreme trust” for local small-medium orgs to lead humanitarian action #Pledge4Change pic.twitter.com/KO021e3KAY
— Vanessa Jackson (@jacksonv07) September 19, 2023