Localisation: A Fancy Word or Fading Light?

by | May 12, 2022 | Change |


Partnership is about working together with another. Ideally, although rarely, partnerships are of two equals. Not equals in every aspect, but equals as a whole. Ideally, partners look out for each other and think of the other.

Too often partnerships are merely transactional relationships used for gain.

Localisation is a fancy word meaning the humanitarian sector will seek to grow the local civil society in the countries it works in. The outcome being more and stronger local organisations and less reliance on global international actors. In essence, it seeks to transfer power and capacity to local organisations.

Sounds simple. Even common sense.

And on one hand it is. But there is always another hand.

In this second hand we find the challenges. Some donors and regulations require money to be transferred into a bank account in the donor country. Most civil society organisations in other countries don’t have a bank account (can’t even get one) in a donor country. Most donor funds require audits and certain financial systems which come with a large price tag and therefore only work on a large scale. Not too many small scale local civil society organisations have (or can afford) the required sophisticated systems. Many systems and processes are designed for and by staff of large organisations. The experience and perspective of these staff are large organisations with many staff, access to various expertise, and so on. The intended user of these systems are staff of smaller organisations. And too often this results in systems that don’t work for the small organisations.

Localisation is a fancy word. A good marketing word. It sounds nice. The problem is no one wants to do it. The entire existing system is set up to perpetuate itself, not to change itself. Localisation is a big word requiring an entirely different mindset to embrace.

Photo by Cristian Escobar


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