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‘I don’t understand localisation…but I know this is a good project’

Blog Post

Martin Dawes, External Communication and Advocacy Adviser, CDAC Network, a partner on the Disasters and Emergency Preparedness Programme (DEPP) discusses localisation and what it means to different people in the sector. This blog was originally published in the CDAC Network newsletter.

A stand out comment from a three day event in Nairobi for organisations involved in the UK funded Disasters and Emergency Preparedness Programme (DEPP) went to the heart of the latest angst within the global humanitarian community. 

It was said by the lead for Christian Aid on the Strengthening Emergency Preparedness in Myanmar project. This is an effort that works in government controlled areas and other are such as Shan State where armed groups operate and, where, according to Yeeshu Shukla, ‘early warning processes stop at the townships’. The project aims to fill that gap by identifying local leaders, work in a number of dialects, ask communities for their priorities and put them in charge, while seeking to ‘connect science, institutions and societies for end to end warning for early warning action’.

It sounds like this is localisation. In fact, an ideal example. But when asked, Yeeshu admitted he was unclear about what was meant by it, but he knew that the project is rooted in communities and what they want.

In that sense it was very local. And not because someone else has suggested that this is the way to go. As a result authenticity is intrinsic.

Yeeshu spoke more about the project, the obstacles, help needed and the importance of getting language issues right in an interview recorded at the DEPP Learning Project event here.

The event itself was a chance to hear the sheer diversity of what is going on under DEPP, which a total of fourteen projects globally including Communication with Communities operated by the CDAC Network in Bangladesh and South Sudan. You can hear some of the voices involved and emerging issues for the organisations working through DEPP in the following podcasts;

1) Local action and the role of international aid (Interview with John Kitui, keynote speaker).

2) Collaboration – a key to making aid action effective (experiences from Pakistan on how there was motivation and energy to get more organisations involved around action for disability and the elderly in an emergency)

3) Aid Organisations and the Need to Change – observation from DEPP practitioners that local responders are often ready to work,, but the obstacles to that happening effectively may be within organisations that have a reluctance to ‘let go’. Among interviewees is CDAC Network’s Chris Ford and an exchange on giving budgetary control to communities so they can contract international aid. 

Our colleague Razwan Nabin from the CDAC Network project in Bangladesh coincidentally has suggested the following blog post from the Sphere Project on why ‘organisational culture must change t put people at the centre’. The conclusions, he says, coincide with his own observations.

This blog was originally published in the CDAC Network newsletter, which you can sign up to here, and on the DEPP Learning Conference website.

Read more about the Disasters and Emergency Preparedness Programme.

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