Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development
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Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development

The Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD) CEO Samar Muhareb represented her organization at the Pooled Fund Working Group meeting, supported by ICVA, held on June 20th in New York.

ARDD

The meeting encompassed a variety of topics, including country-based pooled funds, country-specific topics, and overall themes.  Over its decade of existence, ARDD has strived to build coalitions and networks of like-minded organizations and individuals to advance economic, social, and legal empowerment of vulnerable groups, and in this spirit, ARDD attended the meeting in recognition of the importance of furthering cooperation by pooling resources together with other organizations to have maximum impact. 

To these ends, ARDD has been and still is a true believer in localization of development, humanitarian, and emergency relief efforts and thus believes that it is crucial for international organizations and donors to place local organizations and talent at the center of their own efforts, with ARDD attending the aforementioned meeting to advocate further along these lines.  This overall localization mission is most clearly presented in a joint-statement drafted with other concerned organizations, a statement that calls for the "Promotion and Facilitation of

I. Equal Partnerships between INGOs and LNGOs in emergency and development response
A. Decentralize relief planning in favor of local partnerships for context-driven, multi-stage, long term sustainable interventions.
B. Oversight/Accountability Mechanism: Flexibility in national policy/legislative structures that guide, empower, and facilitate operations as per INGO capacity and LNGO needs.
II. Fair distribution of resources to local NGOs
A. Eliminate/minimize current multi-layered funds appropriations and establish direct line of funding engagement with LNGO to better assess needs, to ensure maximized/efficient allocation and use of resources and long term “ROI”. 
B. Simplify and offer varied funding modalities as per LNGO intervention needs."
 

The rationale behind these recommendations is as follows: "The current responses to and strategies for addressing humanitarian crises in the Middle East are foreign-led and foreign-managed. Although Western-driven humanitarian interventions are essential to save lives and to mitigate the disastrous effects of conflict in the short term, they must, however, better engage and involve local organizations in pursuit of local context-driven perspectives to ensure that hard realities and local needs are not obscured for the long term. 

Currently, only a fraction of funding from the international aid community goes directly to local actors, meaning that foreign organizations, which often lack direct regional and local understanding, are also the organizations that set responses and programming. This hierarchical process disconnects aid sources from its beneficiaries and the situation on the ground. Historically, it has led to unrealistic and unfeasible strategies for addressing local needs. The INGOs must endeavor to change this approach or risk wasting increasingly scarce resources and further increasing the impact of the crises.

We reaffirm that local actors are the closest and most capable of communication with beneficiaries targeted by response plans, that they are cost efficient, hold deep understandings of context and, most importantly, will remain in country after the immediate emergency response, ensuring sustainability of assistance and service to vulnerable groups. While there has been an increase in rhetoric towards supporting local actors, the lack of genuine engagement with local NGOs reflects a disingenuous attempt to empower them.

The way forward is through equal partnerships in planning interventions and fair distribution of resources so that local organizations are empowered to act in emergency response situations without waiting for instructions from headquarters on the other side of the world." 

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