To all international actors:

  • Adopt the correct understanding of localisation as supporting and reinforcing local actors, in a spirit of inclusion, mutual respect and genuine partnership, rather than replacing or subordinating them
  • Foster #transparency in the collaborative relationship. Invest in relationship- and trust building with local actors to support localisation in Myanmar.
  • Talk about risks with back-donors, international and Myanmar actors. Complement risk anxieties with opportunity-spotting: working closely with Myanmar actors creates opportunities.
  • Recognize the capabilities of Myanmar actors. Acknowledge that international actors can and do undermine Myanmar capacities, if they weaken their self-confidence, hire away their best staff and keep them on a financial shoestring.
  • Prioritise area-based over sectoral coordination to account for different sub-national contexts.
  • Set joint leadership with Myanmar actor as the medium term goal, rather than coordination.

To back-donors:

  • Acknowledge that Myanmar continues to be a protracted crisis and be clear on whether you are willing to  support the diverse set of Myanmar responders as actors in their own society and not just as delivery instruments for international aid.
  • Aim for quality funding: Ensure that the international and Myanmar intermediaries receive quality funding and monitor that they pass it on to their subgrantees. The quality of funding is as or even more important to organisational and programmatic effectiveness as the quantity.
  • Invest in capacity development and in a Myanmar infrastructure of capacity-support resources. Investing in an international infrastructure of capacity-support resources but not in a similar infrastructure in countries suffering protracted and recurrent crises, does not offer value-for-money from a longer-term perspective.
  • Adopt a gradualist approach to direct funding of more Myanmar agencies, starting with small  grants combined with the support to develop the organisational policies and programmatic expertise where needed. As progress occurs, and trust develops in the relationship, the grants can become larger.
  • Ensure the organisational business continuity of enough Myanmar actors in all parts of the country.

To Myanmar actors:

  • Take initiative: Myanmar CSOs need to own their standards of integrity, quality, and accountability. Articulate your own standards.
  • Be inclusive and attentive to internal status and power dynamics. Also, more established Myanmar CSOs can fail to recognize the agency and contribution of very localised actors, and risk bypassing them.
  • Work together: Promote and strengthen collaborative willingness and competencies. Competition between Myanmar actors is not in the best interest of people in Myanmar.
  • Remain advocates and role models for human rights, democratisation and non-violent handling of differences and conflicts towards other Myanmar actors.

Localisation in nutrition

Current evidence on successful approaches to localisation are minimal and even more limited for the nutrition sector. Our Review of evidence and best practice to inform the nutrition sector draws on case studies in other sectors, including from other countries, that are applicable to the Myanmar nutrition sector. It lists these priority steps to advance localisation immediately within the Myanmar nutrition sector:

  • Identify barriers: The nutrition cluster to hold a series of workshops to identify and overcome the main barriers for national/ local organisations in implementing nutrition programming, engaging in coordination mechanisms, and increasing leadership roles within the nutrition sector.
  • Strategize: The nutrition cluster or the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) secretariat to develop a localisation strategy at the national and subnational level within the Myanmar nutrition strategy based on the workshop and findings included in this report.
  • Track funds: The nutrition cluster to determine the most appropriate modality to track the amount of funds distributed to national/ local organisations (directly and indirectly) and frequency.
  • Prepare the transition: Nutrition sector intermediaries/ INGOs to develop and implement a long-term localisation strategy with incremental milestones, with the goal to build capacity of and to transition grant ownership to national/ local organisations and affected communities (such as women-led organisations).
  • Simplify: Donors to simplify grant applications, translate funding guidelines in the Myanmar language, allow applications to be submitted in the local language, provide flexible longer-term funding, and adapt monitoring/ reporting expectations.

Localisation in WASH: a participation revolution

We looked at the steps and requirements for  communities take charge of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene services at all stages - from decision making, to management, implementation, monitoring and payment -  in the HARP-F's participation matrix; and what impact community participation has on localising aid. 

In our December 2021 webinar A participation revolution? Experiences with community participation in WaSH projects as a path to greater resilience, we shared how HARP-F partners have sought to engage communities in WaSH programming in Myanmar and how this approach can empower community to lead the response. The experiences and lessons they shared about the impact and challenges of community engagement are also replicable in other sectors and other contexts.

4 lessons from HARP-F's approach to localisation

1/ Build a trusted partnership:  Localisation is about managing a gradual power shift, which requires a common understanding of the responsibilities of each partner, open communication and mutual accountability. 

 Make a long term commitment:
 Organisational strengthening takes time and cannot be accomplished by oneoff trainings. It requires a comprehensive capacity building approach, based on locally-led needs assessments, supporting
locally-led strategies, and offering mentoring, peer learning, and new opportunities for local organisations. This needs to be accompanied by the assurance of multi-year financing.

Make localisation an integral part of programme designLocalisation should drive programming, rather than being included as a contingency plan. Enabling a locally-led response determines grant management, leadership roles, and what organisational transformation and culture changes are needed, for all parties. It is not a quick fix for a time of crisis.

4/ Share the risks
 Localisation comes with even higher demands for accountability, transparency and due diligence placed on local organisations who are often unable to meet these higher standards. Intermediaries such as fund management facilities can shoulder some of the risk management for the donors, whilst giving national organisations the space they need to deliver flexible and adaptive response activities.

What our partners say

Our partners have been spearheading a locally-led humanitarian response in Myanmar’s protracted crisis through armed conflict, the COVID-19 pandemic and a military coup. In October, we held a series of consultations to hear directly from them what support, processes, and tools they require to sustain high quality, locally-led humanitarian action once HARP-F grants close.

Their message is clear: national organisations will require not only increased direct access to donors and to quality funding, but a shift in the power structure of localisation.

They expressed a clear ambition to lead the response, at all stages – not just as programme implementers, but from the decision-making point. And they have demonstrated that they are well placed to do so provided donors, intermediaries and INGOs create an enabling environment, and build an effective support structure. From multi-year, predictable funding, support for stronger systems, ongoing capacity enhancement, MEAL systems suited to Myanmar’s context, and stronger representation in humanitarian coordination mechanisms, they pinpointed the changes that are needed to directly empower local CSOs to lead humanitarian action.

See their recommendations on funding, leadership, risk sharing and capacity building.

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