From where I stand: Unpacking "local" in aid

A CDA Virtual Learning Forum
 

Across all our work, we are hearing increased calls for greater local leadership and enhanced “localization” of aid. CDA and our partners and colleagues have endeavored to highlight the fundamental relevance of shifting how we think about and undertake our work. That is why, in April 2020, CDA launched the From Where I Stand virtual learning forum with this guiding question: What if the evidence-base for local leadership, aid policy, and INGO practice was instead based on the diverse experiences and ideas of those leading humanitarian, aid, and peacebuilding efforts in their contexts?

In 2020, we published over 25 articles from practitioners from over 17 countries that shared their experiences about what localization of aid looks like in practice. We heard from partners in their own contexts, as well as those seeking system-wide shifts in power, about what works, what doesn’t, what questions we should be asking, and what changes we, as a community, need to make.

In December 2020, we published a two-part reflection on the forum after 8 months of listening: What we’ve heard and From where we stand. Through this reflection process, we recognized that a space to share and listen to the stories of how people are leading in their own communities is still quite rare. Therefore, we transformed the forum into an avenue less focused on the ‘localization agenda’, but for people most affected by aid to explore and amplify their leadership experiences, stories, and lessons for the aid sector.

If you are interested in contributing, please contact Nanako Tamaru at [email protected].

 

Disclaimer: Guest authors featured on the From Where I Stand forum write in their personal capacity and the opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of CDA or of the other authors who participate in this forum. Blogs and reflection papers by CDA staff represent CDA’s analysis of themes and insights from all contributions to this forum.


Localism as Radical Ethics: What Syrians have taught us about the critical localization of aid

Localism as Radical Ethics: What Syrians have taught us about the critical localization of aid

In this post, Siad Darwish argues that localization is no longer only an enlightened tactical choice by the aid industry, but a vital necessity that seems to be the only way to alleviate the suffering of millions of people. Through an account and lessons from Syria’s varying experience with localization, Said suggests that “localization” must be an ethical endeavor that seeks to liberate people and planet from multiple intersecting forms of oppression.
From a rectangle to a circle: It’s time to turn the turn tables on aid

From a rectangle to a circle: It’s time to turn the turn tables on aid

In this post, author Ada Ichoja Ohaba speaks to the need to shift the ways of working between international organizations and local partners. She calls for INGOs and donors to move away from "top down" approaches and move towards inclusive methods focused on equality of all, as a way to fully represent the diversity of experiences and knowledge in decision-making.
Liberation starts at home

Liberation starts at home

In this post, Cecilia Milesi suggests that localization of aid should be a process to share power, decentralize and deconstruct the inequalities inherited of the post-colonial international cooperation system. In this way, international cooperation should be less about "aid" and more about "solidarity" and "horizontal exchange" to ensure mutuality is the central pillar. Cecilia further proposes some ideas for a radical renewal of international cooperation.
The quality of a leader: how photography helped me see peers everywhere

The quality of a leader: how photography helped me see peers everywhere

This blog is a question and answer interview format between Sanjay Gurung, Director of Mercy Corps’ Governance and Partnerships Technical Support Unit, and CDA's Chief Collaboration Officer Ruth Rhoads Allen. The piece features highlights from their conversation that touched on Sanjay's passion for photography and analyzes the ability to capture beauty and leadership in profound ways.
Power and accountability: Lessons from Nepal about the value of community ownership and devolution of power

Power and accountability: Lessons from Nepal about the value of community ownership and devolution of power

In this post Ujjwal Amatya discusses the value of greater accountability to local communities as a way to enhance local ownership and sustainability. He suggests that to be successful at localizing our work, donors, INGOs, and local organizations must seek to shift power imbalances towards local communities - who need to be at the center of all our work.
Who is Local?

Who is Local?

In this post, Paul George writes about the use of the word “local” in humanitarian aid. Through a personal account he shows how the word can lead to ‘othering’, and create challenges for agencies seeking to implement the localization agenda. He honestly questions who is local, who gets to decide, and the impact of this definition on the efficacy of aid efforts?

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