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Moving localization from international discourses to local action

Updated: May 22

Project: Support to RISE-South Sudan consortium of women-led and youth-led community-based organizations in South Sudan

Sector: Community-led humanitarian action | Community resilience

Partner: RISE South Sudan | 8 women-led, youth-led, community-led humanitarian organizations

Location:  South Sudan

Date: December 2021 - ongoing

Credits: RISE-South Sudan

Everyone in the humanitarian community has been talking about localization (i.e. promoting local response to local problems). Yet, in practice, local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community-based organizations (CBOs) are not leading humanitarian responses, coordination, decision-making and funding allocation mechanisms.

Partnerships between international actors and local actors often remain inequitable due to an asymmetry in power, especially for youth-led and women-led organizations.

This a major challenge to genuine localization because those with the most power are not always the most knowledgeable about the needs and opportunities on the ground, and the changes needed.

This is why, a group of youth-led and women-led organizations in South Sudan joined forces to access more equitably information and opportunities in the humanitarian sector and advance channels in which CBOs can more effectively lead humanitarian processes hat concern our communities.

We are testing a new model of humanitarian operationalization based on the existing capacities, strengths, ideas, and resources of CBOs in South Sudan.

We believe that local challenges should be solved with local solutions, wisdom, and expertise. The current global humanitarian situation highlights the importance of reshaping positions and power dynamics in a rapidly changing world.

We believe in the need to redefine and reallocate responsibilities amongst international and local actors, with international actors focusing more on ‘behind-the-scenes’ technical support, more facilitation roles, and greater investment in promoting local and national resilience. International actors can still address gaps in capacity and resources by facilitating funding towards local structures, revisiting humanitarian financing models, engaging the private sector more meaningfully, unlocking the potential of ethical innovation and technology, promoting capacity and experience sharing, and maximizing community networks in the Global South.

In sum, we advocate for a paradigm shift by: 1) redefining the way humanitarian action is conceptualized, implemented and delivered; 2) investing in existing local capacities, structures, solutions, and potentials; and 3) promoting individual, community, and systemic resilience to meaningfully reduce risks, vulnerabilities, and eventually needs.

The vision of RISE-SSD is to have South Sudanese CBOs play a central and leading role in humanitarian program planning, response, coordination, funding allocation and overall decision-making.

With this new model, we aim at advancing three levels of changes:

First, Changes for the CBO members: 

  • We want to enhance the visibility of CBOs in national, regional and international humanitarian circles, and increase their role in shaping humanitarian discourses and practice.

  • We want to increase our capacity to fundraise at national, regional and international levels.

  • And we want to strengthen our existing programmatic and organizational capacity to design and implement programs of quality.

Second, Changes for the communities:

  • With this model, we want to see risks and vulnerabilities reduced, and the resilience of our communities increased.

  • We also want to see trusted support mechanisms in place based on what communities need and based on their ideas and strengths.

And finally, Change for the humanitarian sector/practice:

  • Overall, we want to see a genuine localized humanitarian practice, in which CBOs are able to fundraise independently, and lead processes that concern their communities.


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