New IFRC Report calls for greater recognition and support for local humanitarian actors
Local actors are often the most effective in conducting humanitarian operations. However, despite their critical role, they struggle to attract the funding and support they need.
The 2015 World Disasters Report – launched today by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) – examines the complexities and challenges local actors face in scaling-up and sustaining their humanitarian response.
Although widely recognized, the effectiveness of local or national humanitarian organizations is not reflected in humanitarian financing trends. The Report found, for example, that of the total funding given to international, regional, national and local NGOs between 2010 and 2014, only 1.6 per cent of these funds were channeled directly to national and local NGOs.
The report calls on the humanitarian community to work together to ensure more equal partnerships with local actors and efficient financing flows, including at the community level, where humanitarian needs are the greatest and development impacts are felt the most.
It presents the case for a shift towards the “localization” of aid and a more equal partnership between international and local actors.
“Local actors are always the first to respond. In 2015, we saw local people and organizations at the centre of operations rescuing thousands trapped in the rubble after the earthquake in Nepal, setting up evacuation centres in the wake of Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu, and on the frontline of the protracted conflict in Syria,” said Elhadj As Sy, IFRC Secretary General.
“But their effectiveness goes beyond their proximity. Local groups, including National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, are effective because of the perspective they bring, their understanding of language and cultural norms, and because they are permanently present in communities and able to accompany them to address risks before disaster strikes.”
The IFRC is calling for more resources and support for local and national humanitarian actors.
“Responsibility for responding to large-scale disasters should, however, not be transferred entirely to local actors. A better balance must be struck,” said IFRC Secretary General, Elhadj As Sy. “International partners still have a critical role to play, including in the provision of specialized resources and expertise, and surge capacity when local resources are overstretched. But such support should be brought with humility, trust and respect, and with a commitment to building local capacity.”
Earlier this year, the IFRC announced the One Billion Coalition for Resilience – a new partnership to lift, by 2025, one billion people out of situations of risk and vulnerability and to become more resilient in the face of shocks and hazards. This can only be achieved through partnership with, and greater support to, local actors.
Background: About the report
The World Disasters Report is an annual independent publication commissioned by the IFRC, contributing evidence-based research on the challenges, trends and innovations in disaster risk reduction and crisis management. The report is an important body of research, which builds on discussions at the 2015 UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, and the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals. It makes a direct contribution to next year’s World Humanitarian Summit where the localization of aid is one of the key thematic areas of focus.