The DRA defines localisation as a process towards local actors having a stronger role and greater leadership in humanitarian assistance. The expansion of equitable partnerships between local and international humanitarian actors is essential to enhance the effectiveness of humanitarian assistance, address power imbalances in the humanitarian system, and promote sustainability and exit strategies. The DRA believes that localisation improves effectiveness, for example, by leveraging local knowledge, context awareness and links to communities. Local actors who adhere to humanitarian principles and have the right qualifications – adequate skills, resources and space in which to operate – not only save lives but can sustain recovery and risk-reduction efforts long after international responders have lefts. 


In the 2018-2021 strategy, the DRA made strong commitments on localising humanitarian assistance: for example, pledging to increase funding to local actors, allocate DRA budgets to strengthen the capacity of local humanitarian actors and amplify local voices in international humanitarian settings. We have made some major strides in this regard, reflected for example in the substantial increase in funds available for our local partners. We will have reached the Grand Bargain target of 25% by the end of 2021.

In the 2022-2026 strategy, the DRA will shift focus from localised programming to localised leadership. In addition, the DRA will embark on establishing a framework for equitable partnerships in humanitarian aid with an emphasis on complementarity, mutual respect, sharing of risks and benefits, and brokering collaborations between diverse actors, networks at community, local and national levels. Specifically, the DRA will for example work to increase the quantity and quality of funding to local organisations by piloting models of direct funding and flexible funding within Joint Responses (JRs) and increased decision-making over budget allocations by local actors. Furthermore, JR-specific localisation goals will be discussed to improve local leadership and facilitate a more central role for national and local actors in external humanitarian coordination, decision making processes and access to finance.


To ensure that perspectives, experiences and voices of local partners are taken into account, DRA set up an advisory group of representatives of local partners. The Local Advisory Group (LAG) guides us in our policymaking and designing JRs and provides input into DRA trajectories, such as developing the new strategy. What started initially as a counterpart to the DRA localisation working group, the LAG has grown into a more prominent role in advising the DRA on how to further strengthen the role of local partners in the DRA structure and mechanisms towards increased decentralised decision making and co-leadership.

In 2021, all eight protracted JR-countries were represented in the LAG: The Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. One representative per country engaged in LAG-meetings, with the aim of sharing experiences and building more locally-led responses.


1. In the Nigeria JR, 34% of the budget goes directly to local partners. In addition, a capacity building fund was made available which Nigerian partners could use unconditionally to organise their own security. See more here.

2. In 2020, a pilot was pitched to stretch DRA’s thinking and imagination around collaboration and cooperation between members. In Somalia, a locally-led platform of nine Somali NGOs called the Nexus Platform leveraged the diversity of its alliance to develop intervention strategies that traverse the boundaries of development, humanitarian and peacebuilding programming. Read more about the Nexus Platform here.   

3. In collaboration with the Response Innovation Lab, the DRA Innovation Working Group launched a call for Local Humanitarian Innovations in Uganda. The call aimed to promote humanitarian innovation as locally as possible by identifying opportunities and barriers and collecting best practices and learning on how these barriers can be overcome. For example, flexibility in the design and in the facilitation budget allowed adjustments throughout the call process to take into account feedback from involved (local) stakeholders and adapt to the changing COVID-19 context. Local and national stakeholders, including governmental partners, praised the call’s emphasis on local ownership and welcomed its consultative approach in which they were able to connect with other relevant actors within the existing (humanitarian) ecosystem. Read more about innovation within the DRA here.