Effective interventions

Pathways to Locally Led Development


This report summarizes lessons and recommendations from the ‘Unboxing Localisation’ Trajectory. The goal of the trajectory was to share existing policies and practices on locally led development within the context of SDG16+, with leading prioritization and input from partners rooted in (post)conflict settings.

70 organizations contributed to these findings. The trajectory was hosted by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (CSPPS) and the Knowledge Platform Security & Rule of Law (KPSRL). Its sessions consisted of a kickoff event (session I), priorities within the wide scope of localisation (session II), financing and influencing (session III), measuring localisation (session IV), inclusive programming (session V) and innovative financing (session VI).

On page 13 to 17 you can find a schematic overview of concrete and actionable recommendations, plus useful resources and tools. Below some further key takeaways of the report.

Key takeaways

The unique aspect of ‘Unboxing Localisation’ was that local organizations, INGOs and donors jointly unpacked this multi-faceted concept of localization (or as it was renamed throughout: locally led development). So apart from concrete recommendations and many cases presented and shared on how LLD is already being implemented, this format brought about interesting conversations beyond siloes and opportunities for joint agenda setting. Instead of being discouraged with how big and complex it is, this trajectory showed many concrete ways forward and connected partners in doing so.

The whole sector has been thinking about these challenges, so many conclusions have been discussed in other papers and fora too. There were some elements that were a particularly useful contribution to the broader debate though:  

  • The sector’s conception of what ‘results’ are is still too narrow. SRoL interventions change local dynamics through their direct goals (e.g. access to justice or mediation), but also through the exchange of skills and ideas, the network this collaboration establishes, the agenda setting in the donor countries etc. How partnerships and complementary roles develop over time should therefore be considered a goal and result in itself.
  • Too often, local partners are drawn into the design of programs when fundamental decisions have already been made, while collaborating within the framework of an ‘ongoing train’ with tight deadlines. Donors should invest in more permanent frameworks for dialogue at country or even more local level, to constantly reflect on ongoing work and proposals for new initiatives.
  • Due to capacity reasons and regulatory realities, it is not easy for donors to work directly with small local organizations. The role of (supporting to set up) network organizations should be utilized better to bridge this gap.
  • There are also some concrete tools and practices that recurred throughout the trajectory:
    • It should be common practice to work with sustainability plans and partnership assessment tools to constantly monitor whether the local partner is supported in the most effective and sustainable way by its international partners.
    • Language is a key barrier, so investing in translation is a concrete improvement that should be common practice for international organizations. Reserve budget for translators and utilize the opportunities AI offers.
    • The large ambitions on LLD should be accompanied by monitoring progress on LLD goals. There are frameworks and indicators available that can help to track progress.
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