Dialogue for Action on Aid Localisation in Somalia


Around the world, in multiple humanitarian crises and development situations, the issue of aid localization is crucial. Somalia is one such area where a growing number of Somali-led NGOs are looking to play a greater, more equal role in tackling the desperate situations that exist there, alongside their international counterparts, who currently lead the humanitarian response. There is a range of challenges in the current context, which are preventing this from happening. Many of these barriers are visible to all actors involved, yet their viewpoints can be alarmingly different. If progress is to be made, it requires an understanding of all the stakeholders about each other’s constraints, challenges, and proposals. The two-day dialogue for action on aid localization in Somalia held in Nairobi on 22 and 23 May, aimed to bridge the gaps that exist between the local and international actors, and to create innovative solutions as to how these groups could better cooperate and form long term partnerships in the future, rather than having short term contractual agreements. The workshop was organized by the Somali NGO Consortium (, the NEAR Network and the Rift Valley Institute, and was facilitated by the Centre for Humanitarian Change. The first day involved representatives of Somali organizations, who came together to discuss the challenges they face and develop common solutions and collective messages to discuss with international actors. On the second day, they were joined by representatives from donors, INGOs and UN agencies. This provided a common space for the stakeholders to voice their concerns, identify obstacles and propose broad solutions, aimed not at solving the issues piecemeal but at providing recommendations on what the next steps should be in the localization process.


In 2016, representatives from organizations from around the globe attended the World Humanitarian Summit and agreed to the Grand Bargain, a collective effort aimed at creating a greater partnership between local actors and their international counterparts. This effort produced ten workstreams. Among the streams are transparency, localization, cash-based programming, reducing management costs, improving needs assessments, and funding. The international organizations and donors pledged to give 25 percent of funding to local and national responders by 2020. Another, similar, initiative that emerged, led by INGOs, was the Charter for Change. These advocates for similar changes— transparency, partnership, recruitment, advocacy, equality, support, promotion and direct funding (20 percent) of their humanitarian funds to local organizations. While the funding forms a crucial aspect of these initiatives, it is also vital that effort is invested in developing long-term partnerships that will allow local actors to take a central role in humanitarian support and development, in representing the needs of affected people, determining how to respond to those needs and in decision-making around fund allocation. The funding is, therefore, a means to an end. The main objective of the localization is for local and national actors to have the capacity to respond effectively.