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Grand Bargain sub-workstream on cash and local partnerships

In 2019, a sub-workstream on cash and local partnerships was established under the Grand Bargain cash workstream. This sub-workstream relates to the 2016 Grand Bargain commitment to “making principled humanitarian action as local as possible and as international as necessary,” while continuing to recognize the vital role of international actors.

The sub-workstream’s objectives are to better engage local and national actors in global platform on cash and voucher assistance, to align the Grand Bargain cash workstream with localization commitments, and to collect and share knowledge and information on cash and local partnerships. The sub-workstream is currently led by Women’s Right to Education programme, Oxfam International, SDC and the CALP Network.

Current priorities of the sub-workstream:

  • Recognize and enable spaces for local actors to lead and implement CVA programs.
  • Facilitate a shift from in-kind delivery to CVA delivered by local actors (when feasible and appropriate).
  • Recognize the value of each actor in a partnership and shift the view of local actors as implementers in CVA to local actors as partners in CVA.
  • Ensure investments in sustainable local capacity and include strengthening cash readiness and promoting the use of local systems.
  • Work to facilitate direct funding for local organizations to plan and deliver CVA. Donors should increase predictable funding to local structures and systems to enable better CVA planning and delivery.
  • Recognize that progress on CVA localization will require a shift in power, as well as changes to funding processes, systems and requirements.
  • Local stakeholders, international agencies and donors should build true alliances, including for strategic planning and decision-making.
  • Recognize the risks local actors face, particularly in the context of COVID-19, and increase support to sustainable mitigation measures.
  • Share identified risks and take a collaborative approach to risk management.

Why localization?

Although cash and voucher assistance (CVA) implementation has increased significantly in the past years, local and national humanitarian actors have been on the side-lines of funding flows for CVA. They are often financed through two or even more intermediary organizations. At the same time, local actors are providing the overwhelming majority of humanitarian assistance today.

By working in partnership with local actors, CVA programmes can be adapted to local realities, provide timely responses and amplify the voice of communities in highly vulnerable situations. This, however, requires recognizing the value of all actors and shifting the narrative from ‘capacity building’ to ‘capacity sharing’ between international and local actors.

Current structures of engaging in humanitarian action largely favour international organizations, leaving local actors little funding and humanitarian space. Addressing this power imbalance requires changing ways of working, developing equitable partnerships and adapting tools and systems to the context.

Equal participation in decision making forums and clarity on cash coordination systems challenges local actors and their ability to effectively respond.  Therefore it is critical to have one common predictable, accountable cash coordination mechanism with contextual specific systems.

Finally, risks are often transferred to local actors instead of taking a partnership approach to share and mitigate risks collectively.


Co-leads of the Grand Bargain cash sub-workstream on cash and local partnerships