Locally led action

We're aiming to build a more balanced international aid system


Start Network’s vision is for a locally-led humanitarian system that is accountable to people affected by and at-risk of crises.

We aim to achieve this vision by making systemic-level shifts in the way humanitarian aid is approached and delivered by shifting power and decentralising decision making to locally-led networks and organisations;

POWEO Director, Leah Psiya. Photo credit: Jeremy Riggall/ Start Network

Start Network & locally led action


A network of networks

Start Network will catalyse a locally-led humanitarian system by enabling a diverse ‘network of networks’ that ensures equity in power and decision-making, access to resources and voice and visibility for its local members.

 

We will achieve this by catalysing and incubating locally-led, self-governing, national and regional hubs that are supported to bring on their own national and local members.

 

The problem

 

The humanitarian system’s current concentration of power, influence and resources within the global North has led to the exclusion and disempowerment of local and national actors, organisations that are deeply rooted in the communities that they support and which are responsible for the vast majority of humanitarian responses.

 

This imbalance of power is maintained through a highly risk-averse and compliance-heavy operating culture that prevents local organisations from taking leading roles and accessing direct funding. 

 

Tackling this problem requires moving towards a system that is accountable to affected and at-risk communities through the leadership of local organisations and through a change in mindset by traditional power holders that allows them to cede power and control.

 

It requires a radical shift away from the current centralised, compliance-focused approach to one that pools and shares risk between larger and smaller actors, and reflects the value that different organisations bring.

 

Our approach

 

By transforming into a diverse and locally-led network of networks, Start Network can demonstrate a powerful and positive alternative to the current system.

 

In doing so, we can demonstrate the positive impact on communities at risk of or facing crises, and model a different approach that can ultimately drive wider reform.

 

In 2021-2023, Start Network will:

  • incubate and support a network of locally-led, self-governing, national and regional hubs and achieve a diverse and majority-local membership, by supporting hubs to bring on local and national members;
  • decentralise and distribute governance and decision making to hubs, with a view to ensuring accountability to communities and to transitioning the Start Network team to a secretariat and service provider role; and
  • support local actors to exercise power within the humanitarian ecosystem and drive their vision for reform, working with others to address structural, political and operational challenges.

 

Examples of locally led action

Many of the Start Network programmes have actively sought to learn how we can improve localisation.

 

Start Network Hubs have been created to move the network to a more balanced and distributed network, with power and decision making in the hands of organisations on the front line of crises. Hubs are collectives of local, national and international organisations operating in the same country or region. They will control their own resources and define their own responses to crises affecting their communities, united by a shared purpose and common standards, and supported by a global Start Network platform.

 

The Disasters & Emergencies Preparedness Programme (DEPP), worked alongside local, national and international actors to strengthen capacity and better prepare for disasters. It also provided flexible funding for national NGOs, helped them to access international coordination platforms, and also helped partners join existing or establish their own new national networks.

 

The DEPP Innovation Labs has built on this to create national innovation labs, which are identifying and supporting local innovators and their solutions to humanitarian challenges.

 

The Start Fund uses local decision making to select projects based on contextual knowledge. While the Start Fund Bangladesh is working to actively include local organizations as part of the management of the fund.

 

The Start Fund Localisation Review (August 2017) suggested ‘Seven Dimensions of Localisation’ which are helping us improve and embed localisation further. The DEPP Localisation Action Research (in progress) where several DEPP projects have a wider scope of learning on localisation.

 

Start Network has also developed a tiered due diligence framework to enable the network to bring in more local organisations as members.  Members gain access to varying portfolios of Start Network products and services depending on their tier. This enables Start Network to bring in new members across a diverse spectrum of humanitarian actors while appropriately managing our risk.  

 

A framework for localisation

Localisation in action


Resource

Programa Piloto de Localizacion de Start Fund

Start Network ha desarrollado un marco de diligencia debida por niveles para permitir que la red incorpore más organizaciones locales como miembros, sin dejar de cumplir con los donantes y garantizando la confianza en toda la red. En marzo de 2020, se estableció un proyecto piloto para evaluar el impacto de la financiación directa de los miembros que habían cumplido con un nivel particular en el marco de diligencia debida escalonada. A través del piloto, estos miembros tuvieron acceso a un máximo de 30.000 libras esterlinas a través del Start Fund.

27Apr21

Resource

Projet Pilote De Localisation Start Fund

Start Network a développé un cadre de diligence raisonnable à plusieurs niveaux pour permettre au réseau d'accueillir davantage d'organisations locales en tant que membres, tout en respectant la conformité des donateurs et en assurant la confiance au sein du réseau. En mars 2020, un projet pilote a été mis en place pour évaluer l'impact du financement direct des membres qui avaient atteint un niveau particulier dans le cadre de diligence raisonnable. Dans le cadre de ce projet pilote, ces membres ont eu accès à un montant maximal de 30 000 £ via le Start Fund.

27Apr21

Resource

Start Fund Localisation Pilot

Start Network has developed a tiered due diligence framework to enable the network to bring in more local organisations as members, while still meeting donor compliance and ensuring trust across the network. In March 2020, a pilot was established to evaluate the impact of directly funding members that had met a particular tier in the tiered due diligence framework. Through the pilot these members were given access to up to £30,000 via the Start Fund.

27Apr21

Resource

Using Standing Operating Procedures (SOP) for Humanitarian Responses During a Pandemic

Start Fund Bangladesh developed standing operating procedures (SOP) after taking stock of current happenings and in-depth discussion with donors and humanitarian leaders. The SOP targeted safety measures at multiple levels to ensure the ultimate prevention of transmission at the community level. Some of these included: Tracking physical health of staff and volunteers throughout the project period; In addition, all personnel involved in the project needed access to personal protective gear (masks and sanitizers) Adopting new practices at the organisational level: providing accommodation facilities to staff and volunteers if needed; giving compensatory allowances to those working in direct response; increasing organisational cleanliness as per WHO standards Following strict guidelines during response and: distributing relief items through door-to-door delivery and drawing distant circles.

27May20

Resource

Disasters & Emergency Preparedness: A Practical Resource Guide

This new guide brings together knowledge and resources from across the Disasters and Emergencies Preparedness Programme (DEPP) to provide agencies with practical resources on how to deliver preparedness effectively in ten areas.

08Jun18

Resource

Increasing the voice and the influence of local and national NGOs

Shifting the Power (StP) is a three-year project that aims to strengthen the capacity and influence of local and national humanitarian actors, and to contribute to the development of a more balanced humanitarian system. StP is part of the three-year Disasters and Emergencies Preparedness Programme (DEPP) and is being implemented by a consortium of six INGOs: ActionAid, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Concern, Oxfam and Tearfund. The consortium is working alongside 55 local and national NGO (L/NNGO) partners in Bangladesh, DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya and Pakistan. The project is comprised of five ‘outputs’, relating to capacity strengthening, supporting representation and voice of local partners, consortium member INGOs ‘walking the talk’, collaboration with other DEPP projects, and learning and evidence sharing.

26Feb18

Resource

How has Shifting the Power influenced local and national partner's response to emergencies?

Shifting the Power (StP) is a three-year project that aims to strengthen the capacity and influence of local and national humanitarian actors, and to contribute to the development of a more balanced humanitarian system. StP is part of the three-year Disasters and Emergencies Preparedness Programme (DEPP) and is being implemented by a consortium of six INGOs: ActionAid, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Concern, Oxfam and Tearfund. The consortium is working alongside 55 local and national NGO (L/NNGO) partners in Bangladesh, DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya and Pakistan. The project is comprised of five ‘outputs’, relating to capacity strengthening, supporting representation and voice of local partners, consortium member INGOs ‘walking the talk’, collaboration with other DEPP projects, and learning and evidence sharing. This learning review took place between July and September 2017 (towards the end of the project). It examines how the project has influenced local and national partner’s response to emergencies, and which capacity strengthening activities have been most successful. The data on which the review is based was collected from StP staff, L/NNGO partners, and INGO consortium members through a variety of means including: qualitative surveys, field visits, Key Informant Interviews (KIIs), Focus Group Discussions (FGDs), Skype calls and extensive document reviews. The programme has seen some immediate results and benefits. There are numerous examples from all StP countries of L/NNGO progress in being prepared for and able to respond to emergencies. Positively, reports of the progress achieved as a result of being part of StP was not limited to one or two L/NNGOs, nor were they limited to one area of progress per L/NNGO.  

26Feb18

Resource

Start Network's vision for the future of humanitarian action

To prepare for the change needed in the future, the Start Network’s 42 members came together over the last six months, to co-create a vision for the network, based on experience gained over our first eight years. This proposal was unanimously endorsed by our membership in November 2017.

13Dec17

Resource

Localisation of Aid: Are INGOs Walking The Talk?

A new publication from the Shifting the Power project looks at whether and how INGOs following their own rhetoric of localising humanitarian aid.

09Nov17

Resource

The Future of Humanitarian Action in Pakistan

More than 130 participants from national and international civil society organisations, donors, UN agencies and government officials attended the conference to explore what an ideal future for humanitarian action in Pakistan might look like and how we might reorient ourselves to get there.

19Sep17

Resource

Going the extra mile: Bangladesh Localisation Review

In order to establish a baseline on the state of localisation in the Start Fund and humanitarian sector in Bangladesh more generally, the Start Fund Bangladesh commissioned this external review.

19Aug17

Resource

The Start Fund, Start Network and Localisation

Localisation is a foundational and non-negotiable principle within the Start Network. This report presents a ‘baseline assessment’ of where the Start Fund and three DEPP projects currently sits with the‘localisation agenda’.

02Aug17

News, blog and opinion


Blog Post

The value of Start Network membership to our new local and national NGO members

In 2020, 12 non-governmental organisations from Pakistan, India, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo joined Start Network. To reflect on the value of a locally led network and the challenges of building one we hear from the new members experience and stories from their engagement with Start Network. These are synthesised into three main themes – operational practices, visibility and credibility. The report demonstrates that new members perceive significant value in joining Start Network, from improvements in policies to increased credibility and visibility. Although new members perceive value in Start Network membership, new members have made recommendations for how to further increase that value. Start Network should ensure that new members are continually supported to improve and strengthen their organisational systems, such as SOPs, policies, and practises. Improvements in credibility could be further made by providing a formal recognition of Start Network membership and giving more visibility to new members as well as providing training on digital presence.

27Sep21

Blog Post

Co-creating a more proactive, locally led and efficient humanitarian action: Start Network’s call to action to the new Emergency Relief Coordinator

The new Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), Martin Griffiths, has officially started his role as the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, the most senior humanitarian role at the United Nations. He will be leading the policies and strategic decisions of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) which will have an impact across the humanitarian sector and the way the sector responds to crises.

28Jul21

Blog Post

Opportunities to change the way we evaluate humanitarian responses

In 2020, Start Network undertook a number of consultations with communities that were supported by its funding. This included a large household survey in Senegal evaluating the quality and impact of assistance in anticipation of drought through ARC Replica, as well as the perceptions of people assited in Pakistan, India and DRC as part of our due diligence pilot. Central to the planning of these evaluations was an intention to be as inclusive as possible by amplifying marginalised voices, and to ensure that the people interviewed were able to express themselves in their local language by hiring local consultants to conduct interviews.

23Jun21

Blog Post

Three benefits of due diligence from the perspective of new members

We wanted to understand the value that Start Network membership has brought to new members, including the value of our due diligence process. Based on interviews conducted between November and December 2020, here are the three main ways that due diligence has benefitted our new members from their perspectives.

26Apr21