Eman Ismail, ICVA MENA Regional Representative and ICVA Focal point on Localisation speech at Reinforcing Localization in Jordan event.
Good afternoon, Al Salam Alikum.. my name is Eman Ismail ICVA MENA Regional Representative and ICVA Focal point on Localisation
It is a great honor to greet you all at this important event today. The International Council of Voluntary Agencies-ICVA would like to thank the ARDD and JONAF core team for all their efforts in organizing this event.
ICVA is the oldest global consortium established in 1962 and one of the great strengths for us is that we represent diverse members from both national and international NGOs and NGO networks, so we greatly appreciate the opportunity to bring inputs from global, regional and in-country perspectives to advance the dialogue on localization.
ARDD has been one of the very active members in the MENA region, very proactive in participation at different regional and global platforms to convey messages about the capacity of local actors, and the support needed to engage them better at the leadership and decision making role. ARDD and ICVA have been collaborating at different opportunities to strengthen JONAF fora work and to provide the necessary support to scale up JONAF COVID-19 response.
As ICVA in MENA region, localization is at the core of our strategy, and we have been focusing on supporting NNGO coalitions in Syria, Turkey, Yemen, Libya, OPT and Jordan on different areas related to joint coordination, governance, strategic planning, and a joint advocacy work at the regional and global levels. Also, focusing on engaging them at different regional and global platforms so they can share their valuable inputs and concerns. We also have been providing LNGO fora with technical and financial support based on their needs as we truly believe that strengthening local NGOs coalitions is vital for advancing the role of local actors.
So, I’d like to share quickly a couple of points and recommendations:
First) Leading role at the coordination and decision-making level
- We keep talking about localization in a room that is empty from local actors, so we need to walk and talk and start from global level to demonstrate an increased number of local actors who meaningfully contribute at the decision-making level. This is as important as the role that the local actors are playing in implementing and responding to the needs on the ground. ICVA is the co-chair IASC RG1 subgroup on localization- this is a global group in which we have a key focus on enhancing and increasing the meaningful participation of local actors at coordination and decision-making levels. So, localization is not only about resources and funding, but it’s about the importance of engagement and taking leading roles. Many conversations about localization resonate with the funding flows. I believe we have to move beyond seeing localization as an operational or bilateral issue between international and national actors and take a more holistic approach.
The Second Point) Different interpretation for Localisation especially amid of COVID-19 :
for localization its key here to have a contextualized definition at a country level and sometimes at the urban city level, considering a country with different cultural and social norms from south to north, east to west, we have to consider this whenever we talk about localization, and to be sensible about our targeted areas and people. I must also begin by saying that there is still a lot of uncertainty around COVID-19 and its impact on INGOs, local actors, and funding around the world. We kept hearing that funding will be impacted and the largest impact would be clearer moving forward in 2021 and later on, economic recessions, mobility challenges and new regulations might impact the ways that NGOs used to operate.
My third Point is related to) New Opportunities arising amid difficult challenges:
More and more focus on the localization than any time before. The response to COVID-19 has not eliminated many of the challenges we see around localization but has brought localization to the center and has made it a very appealing topic to talk about. the realization that we need and we should do better from different stakeholders is now a reality, how this realization can be translated into action, this is the question?
Also, for local actors themselves who are more and more realizing that they need to be affiliated within a coordination Network, forum or a coalition is one way to have a greater impact on joint advocacy work.
Community Engagement and Coordination with local authorities related to COVID-19: this is a key dimension related to the localization which is engaging the community, we can’t talk about real engagement without focusing on equitable partnership, lending some power to the people, and get rid of describing them as beneficiaries, or who are only in huge needs of capacity building with a top-down approach. Many good examples on Community Engagement amid of COVID-19- such as related to distribution, on-call case management, Campaigns to address GBV and protection issues especially at the time of lockdown.
Finally, I’d like to share a couple of recommendations:
To LNNO: it is essential to strengthening the institutional capacity of NNGOs to enable them to more meaningfully engage in the international humanitarian architecture. local capacities are reduced and linked with the financial constraints and for national NGOs to overcome these obstacles – particularly around staffing for coordination and liaison functions LNNGO needs to prioritize and explore new opportunities to mobilize funds for liaison and coordination functions and to continue to advocate with donors to cover these costs within both direct and indirect grants.
- Provide funding to NNGOs in support of the capacity building, liaison functions, and support participation in coordination structures. Ensure a portion of donor portfolios is channeled to local and national organizations, exploring opportunities for providing flexible multi-year funding to ensure the sustainability and continuity of NNGO projects and capacities.
- Also, Consider providing unrestricted direct or indirect funds that can be used by NNGOs to enable them to strengthen their systems and engage more meaningfully in international humanitarian coordination platforms.
To UN agencies and INGOs :
- Ensure an appropriate allocation and composition of seats within key strategic and decision-making forums including WG, Clusters, and HCT
- Take steps to create an environment in which strategic and decision-making structures are more accessible and inclusive of national NGOs. Consider holding meetings in the local language or providing simultaneous interpretation (where required) to overcome language barriers and encourage greater engagement by NNGO representatives. Also, to ensure national partners have adequate opportunities and time to contribute to agendas to ensure meetings are relevant for NNGOs and do not only reflect international interests.
- Invest in the capacity of national NGOs as part of preparedness and early recovery activities. Localization is not limited to emergency and during humanitarian response, greater opportunities may exist for undertaking these activities during non-emergency phases. Part of the Nexus approach and there is a great opportunity to tapping into development funds.
Once again, thank you so much for this great opportunity.