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;
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 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.
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
Start Network Hubs
Start Fund Bangladesh
DEPP Innovation Labs
The Start Fund
Disasters and Emergencies Preparedness Programme
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