Is Aid Really Changing? What the Covid-19 Response Tells Us about Localisation, Decolonisation and the Humanitarian System

Publication language
Date published
01 Sep 2021
DA Global
Research, reports and studies
COVID-19, National & regional actors

We are at a unique moment in time when courageous leadership could transform the humanitarian system and shift imbalances in power. Covid-19 is no exception in demonstrating that this is the only way forward. This research is very timely, showing that current structures and priorities must be realigned with a greater focus on local actors’ leadership, ownership, innovative approaches and expertise.

Local actors, including Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies, have been at the forefront of responding to Covid-19 and saving lives. They demonstrate localisation in action and the value of volunteer networks to reach people in the most vulnerable situations. This research purposefully sought the voices and perspectives of local actors and they are enlightening, particularly on power dynamics. The British Red Cross has engaged with the implications of the research findings and is committed to taking steps forward, based on the recommendations.

This will build on our longstanding commitments on core funding and partnerships with National Societies, from Bangladesh to Lebanon, as they design their own emergency responses and priorities. We hope that this report will stimulate important discussions across the humanitarian sector. We know that local decision-making must be at the heart of funding, partnerships and policies so that communities are safer during crises.