ActionAid: Partnerships for humanitarian action: challenges for large INGOs without a traditional partnership approach

Published Date

On 14 January 2020, the Accelerating Localisation through Partnerships programme (led by Christian Aid) and the Humanitarian Policy Group of ODI hosted a closed-door roundtable under Chatham House Rule to discuss the challenges for large INGOs without a traditional partnership approach to move towards partnerships in humanitarian contexts. This discussion took place within the framework of on-going efforts by the humanitarian system to support more local and locally-led humanitarian action. The roundtable was attended in person and remotely by 11 individuals from six humanitarian organisations as well as a research organisation and an independent consultant.

Since the World Humanitarian Summit, a number of initiatives, including the Grand Bargain Localisation Workstream 2, aim to support a more locally-led humanitarian action. While many discussions on localisation have focused on the commitment for more direct funding to local actors, the other commitments related to more equitable and genuine partnerships between local actors and international actors, and reinforcing not replacing local capacity, remain crucial. Humanitarian action that is as local as possible, as international as necessary calls for – in the medium term at least – genuine and complementary partnerships between local and international actors. However, there are many international organisations who continue to respond to humanitarian crises with a direct implementation modality or do not have a (long) history or tradition of partnership working. For these INGOs, there is limited support or guidance on the process of establishing or accelerating a partnership approach.

This closed-door workshop aimed to:

  • Present recent studies and internal reviews related to transitioning to a partnership approach.
  • Identify and discuss the challenges, barriers and blockages that stifle progress towards a partnership approach for large INGOs.
  • Share learning and discuss practical steps for removing these barriers, and enabling an institutional environment for genuine partnerships with local organisations.
  • Identify how the Grand Bargain Localisation Workstream could support organisations going through this transition to a partnership approach.

Please see below summary notes from the workshop.