In depth conversation: Two global development experts critically examine the movement toward decolonizing aid

Degan Ali and Cynthia Eyakuze say the sector needs to shift power to local communities, but that there’s been far too much lip service when it comes to ‘localization’

Why It Matters

Signatories of the Grand Bargain agreement did not meet the goal of shifting 20 percent of their funding to local organizations by 2020. What now? Meanwhile, global development and humanitarian aid are facing wicked problems: rising rates of extreme poverty due to the pandemic, climate change-induced droughts, famines, and migration — and much more. It is time to reexamine the ways the sector responds to these crises.

The humanitarian aid and global development sectors are facing a reckoning. 

For years, these sectors have operated largely from the global north — often working with global south organizations and community members, but ultimate control over what programs are funded, who sets the agenda, and how programs are carried out has stayed in the hands of people who’ve never experienced the problems they’re working to solve first-hand.

Enter: localization. In short, proponents of localizing aid and development argue that the sector should shift power to civil society organizations in global south communities themselves. That means transferring funding without asking questions. It means programs are designed by the people closest to the problem. It means empowering community groups to set the agenda and priorities.

Future of Good publisher and CEO Vinod Rajasekaran

Our social impact coverage and insights enrich thousands of changemakers like you everyday. Sign up for a free account with Future of Good to continue reading this article.