Many donors want to fund organizations as close to the communities they are trying to help as possible. Locally-led humanitarian response is widely regarded as more effective, more efficient and more likely to improve accountability to and the participation of those most affected by disasters and crises. The voices, knowledge and expertise of those most affected must be heard and respected in developing solutions. While the aid sector has made broad commitments to localize aid and put agency into the hands of those closest to the issues, progress toward this goal has backtracked to a five-year low, with only 1.2 percent of international humanitarian assistance going directly to local and national actors (LNAs) in 2021. According to The State of Global Giving by U.S. Foundations, this figure is likely higher for philanthropy, with roughly 13 percent of U.S. foundations’ global grant dollars going to organizations based in the country where programs were implemented in the 2016-2019 period.

Smaller, more nimble community-based organizations are the ones that take risks and act as first responders when crisis strikes, and yet they are consistently sidelined when it comes to funding. This lack of funding points to a systemic issue within the humanitarian sector: an imbalance of power. How are we, as funders, localizing our disaster response and recovery funding strategies?

What is localization?

There is no single definition of “localization.” Under the Grand Bargain, the signatories have committed to “making principled humanitarian action as local as possible and as international as necessary,” while continuing to recognize the vital role of international actors in situations of armed conflict.

Localizing humanitarian response (or localization) is a process of recognizing, respecting and strengthening the leadership by local authorities and the capacity of local civil society in humanitarian action, to better address the needs of affected populations and to prepare national actors for future humanitarian responses.

At CDP, we strive to grant to locally-led entities as much as possible. For international grantmaking, we seek to ensure that at least 25% of our grants go directly to local and national stakeholders in the countries where projects are being implemented. When granting to our trusted international partners with deep roots in those countries, more consideration is given to those that empower local and national stakeholders.

Read the full article about localization at The Center for Disaster Philanthropy.