Localization is the process through which a diverse range of humanitarian actors are attempting, each in their own way, to ensure local and national actors are better engaged in the planning, delivery and accountability of humanitarian action, while still ensuring humanitarian needs can be met swiftly, effectively and in a principled manner.


Why localization

Localization creates an opportunity to critically examine and improve the overall structure and functionality of the humanitarian system by:

  1. Strengthening inclusion of, accountability to, and acceptance by affected populations
  2. Increasing resilience through linking preparedness, response and recovery efforts
  3. Enhancing the speed, quality and scale of humanitarian response
  4. Adding value through improving the efficiency and effectiveness of humanitarian action
  5. Promoting diversity and supporting innovative and contextual approaches



ICVA Briefing Paper: REINFORCE, REINFORCE, REINFORCE: Localization in the COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response

ICVA has developed this note to support dialogue on strengthening principled and effective humanitarian action by NGOs during the COVID-19 response, with a focus on reinforcing local and national action wherever possible.









ICVA Briefing Paper: Unpacking Localization 

ICVA and the Humanitarian Leadership Academy have developed this paper to support local, national and international NGOs to ‘unpack’ localization in a constructive  manner.
Localization is a product of a wide range of changes; particularly those related to the type of organizations that are leading or delivering humanitarian assistance, the ways in which these organizations are working and, the environments in which humanitarian action takes place.
To unpack localization, one approach is to consider it as the intersection of four sub-processes that are taking place simultaneously, in some cases working in parallel, in others working together or against each other. These processes appear to be highly contextual; they are moving in different ways within regions, in different national or sub-national settings, and particularly between natural disaster, displacement or conflict settings.




ICVA Briefing Paper: Localization Examined

ICVA's briefing paper on localization explores the evolution, opportunities, challenges and future trends of localization, and the impacts of these in terms of strengthening principled and effective humanitarian action.








Webinar: Localization: Perspectives on Change

On 8 November 2018,  ICVA-PHAP organised a webinar on “Localization: Perspectives on change” and heard from different actors’ experiences working towards greater localization of humanitarian action. The discussion provided an overview of the concept of localization, how it has evolved, and how it is currently used. Participants learned more about how governmentsnon-State donors, private sector actors, and diaspora actors see current opportunities, challenges, and future trends. The impact of localization initiatives on principled and effective humanitarian action was also examined.

The webinar “Localization: Perspectives on change” was built on ICVA’s “Localization Examined” Briefing Paper. It aims to help NGOs better understand the perspectives of a range of diverse actors towards localization,  with the ambition to prompt further discussion and action.

This webinar is part of the “Navigating Change” Learning Stream which includes a total of six webinars, briefing papers and other resources. All practitioners interested in humanitarian policy issues, particularly NGO staff, are encouraged to attend.



​Rahmawati Husein

Vice Chair of Muhammadiyah Disaster Management Centre (MDMC) and member of the Advisory Board,
Indonesian National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB)




Firzan Hashim

Country Director, Asia-Pacific Alliance for Disaster Management Sri Lanka (A-PAD SL)




Rabiah Nasir-Habeeb

Trustee, Foundation for Refugee Economic Empowerment (F.R.E.E.)






Angharad Laing

Executive Director, PHAP



Jeremy Wellard

Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, ICVA





Recommended reading on localization 

There has recently been an abundance of writing on the topic of localization. Here are ICVA’s top picks to gain an indepth understanding of the current state of the localization discourse and how localization talk is being turned into action. 

Top 5 reads: Understanding Localization

1. On the Road to 2020: Grand Bargain Commitment to Support National and Local responders (Trocaire, 2018): A recent and very thorough summary of the current state of progress of a range of stakeholders and overall landscape in regard to localization, with a focus on the Grand Bargain.

2. Understanding the Localization Debate (Global Mentoring Institute, 2017): The Global Mentoring Institute has a rich body of work on the topic of localization, including this 2017 piece on which examines in detail some of the arguments for, and challenges to, localization.

3. Localization and Locally Led Crisis Response: A Literature Review (Local2Global Protection, 2016): A very comprehensive review of localization published just after the WHS, which also discusses some challenges of supporting localized humanitarian action and suggests ways of overcoming these.

4. Localisation of Aid–Are INGOs Walking the Talk (START Network, 2017): This publication from the Shifting the Power project examines whether INGOs are living up
to their own promises to localize humanitarian aid. The report looks at current opportunities, challenges and good practices in relationships and calls for improved partnerships between INGOs and local and national NGOs.

5. Emergency gap: The challenges of localised humanitarian aid (MSF, 2016): This paper analyses the role of national and local actors in humanitarian action based on MSF’s experiences in areas within conflict affected countries. It highlights constraints and challenges that confront these actors when delivering humanitarian assistance, especially in situations of internal armed conflict and contends these limitations have been largely ignored by localization discussions.

Top 5 reads: Implementing Localization

1. Local Humanitarian Action in Practice (Humanitarian Leadership Academy and British Red Cross, 2017): This collection of case studies, led by the British Red Cross and the Humanitarian Leadership Academy, highlights successes and challenges faced by local humanitarian actors, drawing on the real-world experiences of ten national and local humanitarian organisations.

2. Notes from Breaking Down the Silos Webinar Series: Good Practices and Tips from the Field on Working with National and Local Actors (Global Cluster Coordinators Group, 2017): Published as a summary of a panel discussion examining best practices to localize during the early recovery phase, this document provides international coordination actors with a clear list of specific and actionable recommendations for improving operational coordination with national governments and NGOs.

3. IFRC Policy Brief: Localization - what it means and how to achieve it (IFRC, 2018): This paper, based on the IFRC’s experience convening the Grand Bargain Workstream, presents some key lessons learned and recommendations for strengthening localization.

4. Localization in Practice: Emerging Indicators and Practical recommendations (START Network, 2018): This report was commissioned by the START Network’s Disasters and Emergency Preparedness Programme (DEPP) Learning Project to contribute to learning on best practice for localization, and to move forward the discussions through a series of specific recommendations.

5. Highlights and Ways Forward (Charter 4 Change, 2018) A concise summary by the five NGOs which are both Grand Bargain and Charter 4 Change Signatories, and the NEAR Network, highlighting specific achievements for different stakeholder groups plus overall challenges and recommendations.