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 locally led action

Locally led action


Resource

Start Network Assembly 2021: Decolonising evidence: locally-led defined approaches of measuring programmes success

Takeaways from the 2021 Start Network Assembly Explore session: Decolonising evidence: Locally-led approaches of measuring programme success This panel session aimed to explore what alternative approaches to collecting data and measuring success could look like from the perspective of local communities and non-western lenses. It was facilitated by Sanjukta Moorthy (a planning and MEL consultant) who has a special interest in championing diverse perspectives and decolonised frameworks. The three panellists were Saeed Ullah Khan (GLOW consultants, Pakistan) who brings extensive multi sectoral experience especially in large scale survey handling; Anuarite Kabuo (MIDEFEHOPS asbl, DRC) who works for an NGO passionate about contributing effectively to the development of vulnerable communities, children, women, victims of situations of armed conflict; and Pradytia Pertiwi (Rooted Impact, Indonesia) whose work focuses on research and development practice at the intersection of psychology, disasters, development and inclusion, seeking to co-create knowledge with communities.

21Dec21

Resource

Start Network Assembly 2021: Quality partnerships from the perspectives of local and national actors

Takeaways from the 2021 Start Network Assembly Explore session: Quality partnerships from the perspectives of local and national actors This interactive session explored what quality partnerships could look like between Start Network members and local partners. It explored what local partners perceive to be important values, and how to achieve these, especially trust, flexibility, and transparency. The session included a presentation of main findings from the survey, a panel discussion, and breakout rooms with participating INGOs and L/NNGOs. The panellists were local partners: Nanette Antequisa (ECOWEB, the Philippines) Muleneh Tesfaye (Caritas Ethiopia) and Lynn Walker (Tree of Life, Zimbabwe). The session was facilitated by Lola Gostelow (an independent humanitarian and associate of the Partnership Brokers Association). The session was based on a survey of 98 local organisations and their experiences working with Start Network members, or directly with Start Network.

21Dec21

Resource

Why is it Hard for Organisations to Learn?

The Evidence & Learning and Innovation teams at Start Network came together to begin unpacking how we can better embed learning into our work to ensure that our practice and projects continually change and develop as a result of learning and feedback. We began by getting to grips with the problem – what’s stopping learning from happening?

14Dec21

Resource

HOW CAN START FUND BANGLADESH DO MORE TO ENSURE: EFFECTIVE RESPONSES, SHARED LEARNING & POWER SHIFTS?

In 2019, Start Fund Bangladesh opened up its membership to 26 local and national organisations enabling them to access direct funding and become involved in decision-making around funding and responses. As a direct result, 80% of all Start Fund Bangladesh funding had been awarded directly to local and national organisations in 2020. This directive to shift the power has also been explored in other ways. For example, Start Fund Bangladesh has also been working to encourage INGOs who have local implementing partners to share overhead costs so that these can be used to grow and strengthen local organisations. To understand more about further changes that Start Fund Bangladesh could make, we listened to some of the reflections of Sina Chowdhury and Sirajul Islam who work for two of the local organisations that joined in 2019. The verbatim quotes from the interviews provide a powerful and rich narrative around their experience working with Start Fund Bangladesh and as humanitarians and have led us to formulate three main lessons for the Start Network: BE MORE INCLUSIVE TO BE MORE EFFECTIVE; UPSKILL TO EMPOWER; and CHAMPION FOR CHANGE. This report would be of interest to all those working towards a system change to a more locally led humanitarian system that is more accountable to those affected by crisis.

03Dec21

Resource

Recovering costs more equitably: An important step in rebalancing power?

Start Fund Bangladesh produced key evidence on the impact of Indirect Cost Recovery (ICR). How can organisations use ICR for their own organisational development and how INGOs can adopt these practices to strengthen partnerships with local organisations.

17Nov21

Resource

AN ITERATIVE FRAMEWORK FOR A LOCALLY LED START NETWORK

This framework is set out as a series of intensions and questions across 11 elements where we feel change is needed. The intention outlines the vision of where we want to be or get to as a network. The issues/questions outline questions that SN needs to answer at all levels leadership, management, staff, membership, Hubs, etc. 

17Nov21

Resource

The Five Founding Hubs: What has happened and what comes next?

In April 2020, five locally led groups of changemakers came together to explore what it takes to launch local hubs as part of Start Network, as envisioned within ‘Start Evolves’. This phase was called a ‘Proof of Concept’ and has resulted in the emergence of Hubs in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala, India, the Pacific Region and Pakistan. 

16Nov21

Resource

The new network: Our future role as a platform-based service provider

As the network decentralises, and more functions and decisions devolve to the hubs, the role of the Start Network secretariat will also need to change to support a new way of working. The "network of networks" will require a new global infrastructure which enables many members across many hubs to work together, share and learn from each other; and which provides aggregated solutions that reduce duplication across the network. This session was an opportunity to hear about the work and thinking that has been done to date around this new service-provider model and what it might look like.

16Nov21

Resource

A New Model For Governance & Membership In The Network

This session was an opportunity to re-engage with the proposed changes to Start Network's governance and membership structures, in line with our shift towards a distributed model of power and decision making. In particular, this session aimed to address the issues and questions raised by members over the past few months, and present a roadmap for addressing the next set of challenges in the network's development journey.

16Nov21

Resource

Indicadores de exito desde la perspectiva de la comunidad

Esta infografía resume los resultados de dos estudios en los que la Red Start habló directamente con los miembros de la comunidad sobre lo que significa para ellos el éxito de las respuestas de acción temprana.

15Nov21

Resource

Les indicateurs de reussite du point de vue de la communaute

Cette infographie d'une page résume les résultats de deux études dans le cadre desquelles Start Network a interrogé directement les membres de la communauté sur ce que signifient pour eux des mesures d'action précoce réussies.

15Nov21

Resource

Indicators of success from a community-perspective

This infographic summarises findings from two studies where Start Network spoke directly to community members about what success in early action responses means to them. We followed two quite different types of assistance- the first being a cooling facility and behaviour messaging programme to help during the heatwave in Pakistan, and the second being the provision of non-food items for those displaced following a volcanic eruption in DRC.

10Nov21

News, blog and opinion


Resource

Start Network Assembly 2021: Quality partnerships from the perspectives of local and national actors

Takeaways from the 2021 Start Network Assembly Explore session: Quality partnerships from the perspectives of local and national actors This interactive session explored what quality partnerships could look like between Start Network members and local partners. It explored what local partners perceive to be important values, and how to achieve these, especially trust, flexibility, and transparency. The session included a presentation of main findings from the survey, a panel discussion, and breakout rooms with participating INGOs and L/NNGOs. The panellists were local partners: Nanette Antequisa (ECOWEB, the Philippines) Muleneh Tesfaye (Caritas Ethiopia) and Lynn Walker (Tree of Life, Zimbabwe). The session was facilitated by Lola Gostelow (an independent humanitarian and associate of the Partnership Brokers Association). The session was based on a survey of 98 local organisations and their experiences working with Start Network members, or directly with Start Network.

21Dec21

Resource

Start Network Assembly 2021: Decolonising evidence: locally-led defined approaches of measuring programmes success

Takeaways from the 2021 Start Network Assembly Explore session: Decolonising evidence: Locally-led approaches of measuring programme success This panel session aimed to explore what alternative approaches to collecting data and measuring success could look like from the perspective of local communities and non-western lenses. It was facilitated by Sanjukta Moorthy (a planning and MEL consultant) who has a special interest in championing diverse perspectives and decolonised frameworks. The three panellists were Saeed Ullah Khan (GLOW consultants, Pakistan) who brings extensive multi sectoral experience especially in large scale survey handling; Anuarite Kabuo (MIDEFEHOPS asbl, DRC) who works for an NGO passionate about contributing effectively to the development of vulnerable communities, children, women, victims of situations of armed conflict; and Pradytia Pertiwi (Rooted Impact, Indonesia) whose work focuses on research and development practice at the intersection of psychology, disasters, development and inclusion, seeking to co-create knowledge with communities.

21Dec21

Resource

Start Network Assembly 2021: Recovering costs more equitably an important step in rebalancing power

Takeaways from the 2021 Start Network Assembly Learn session: Recovering costs more equitably: an important step in rebalancing power This session aimed to raise awareness on why a more equitable Indirect Cost Recovery (ICR) across the humanitarian sector is a concrete and tangible way to make progress towards locally led action. Panellists from the session include Fhakrul Islam and Sajid Raihan from Start Fund Bangladesh, Yeakub Hossain from SEEP, and Dulon Gomes from World Vision Bangladesh. The session was facilitated by Myriam Castaneda Solares.

21Dec21

Blog Post

Le HUB RDC balise la voie vers une nouvelle ère de l’action humanitaire Le HUB RDC balise la voie vers une nouvelle ère de l’action humanitaire

25Nov21