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Are we there yet? Localisation as the journey towards locally led practice

Research reports

Written by Arbie Baguios, Maia King, Alex Martins, Rose Pinnington

Localisation has long been discussed, but has still not been delivered. Systemic barriers have posed challenges, and the term itself is contested. Now, the last tumultuous 18 months could provide a critical juncture to finally move forward with this crucial agenda. This paper reviews the barriers and challenges to localisation and locally led practice, with a view to informing a campaign for systemic change.

Based on a rapid review of the literature and evidence, consultations with over 100 participants, and analysis of 28 existing models and approaches, the report highlights the existence of numerous positive examples of localisation and locally led practice, while unpacking the power imbalance that has stalled progress overall.

There are four recommendations for international actors including bilateral and multilateral donors, intermediaries and philanthropic organisations, as follows:

  1. Learn from and accelerate initiatives that already exist – especially from the Global South
  2. Transfer greater resources, including by tackling root causes of risk aversion and redesigning funding flows
  3. Reduce encroachment of local actors’ agency and respect their ways of being by rethinking organisational roles (and stepping back if appropriate) and shifting one’s mindset
  4. Let Global South actors lead the campaign to promote localisation and locally led practice.