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(Photo: Christian O. Bruch)

Charter4Change and Kindernothilfe

What is the C4C?

In preparation for the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016, the UN initiated a participatory process with International as well as Local and National NGOs (L/N NGOs) whereby they hoped to identify the most disruptive gaps within the global humanitarian system. A significant discrepancy in the amount of funding provided to INGOs in comparison to L/N NGOs was discovered. In 2015, only 0.4 percent of global humanitarian aid funds were transferred directly L/N NGOs. It was even less in the years before.

Author: Taylor Anderson

“More money should be spent on capacity building of local actors. This would help break the cycle of dependence on international NGOs. Furthermore, many projects are designed without a clear understanding of the reality on the ground. Project design should be bottom up, not top down.” - Staff member, Haiti ("Perspectives from the field" 2018 report)

Out of this process the Charter4Change was created with the purpose of augmenting the role and involvement of local actors in humanitarian aid and development projects. This is known as 'localization'. In the C4C are 8 practical measures to strengthen the capacity of L/N NGOs and thus achieve greater localization in the humanitarian system. One of the 8 commitments is to increase the share of humanitarian aid to 20 percent by 2018, to be implemented directly and independently by local actors. Other commitments are to strengthen transparency, partnerships, advocacy, recruitment, capacity support, and communication.

The C4C categorizes international organizations as duty bearers and N/L NGOs as beneficiaries. Thirty-five INGOs and 232 L/N NGO partners have signed and endorsed the charter since 2015; Kindernothilfe was among the first group of signatories. Every year the C4C coalition publishes an Annual Report which summarizes and presents the INGOs self-reported progress on the implementation of the 8 commitments. L/N NGO endorsers are also surveyed in order to present their perspectives and comments on the progress made in the last year by the signatories.

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Why is it important?

At the beginning of a disaster, international organizations lack contact and an overview of what local capacities already exist and what is needed where. The affected population, together with the staff of the local organizations, can often have an equal or greater overview of the situation and can better decide which aid is most needed. There is therefore a danger that the existing efforts and systems of the local people will go unnoticed, or be undermined or destroyed during foreign intervention. Furthermore, local organizations and their staff remain on the ground and within the communities even after the crisis, even if the international community and the majority of INGOs are already shifting their attentions to the next disaster.

Kindernothilfe's Commitment to Localization

"C4C is important because it recognizes the role of the people who are the first to assist those affected by crisis. It helps to ensure that these key actors have a say in the strategies and standards of humanitarian aid and that humanitarian action is more closely adapted to the context where it happens."  -  Christine Idems, Kindernothilfe

Kindernothilfe is actively committed to ensuring that the global system of humanitarian aid is steered by local actors and initiatives by promoting improved access to financial resources and greater influence on the programmatic content of humanitarian aid by South NGOs. KNH attaches great importance to local expertise and ownership of the project research, design, and implementation process. For example, KNH does not send humanitarian aid workers to crisis areas, but supports the implementation of local project ideas by L/N NGOs.  

In this way, Kindernothilfe has the ability to ensure that the projects they co-finance are relevant, feasible, compatible with the local situation, not undermining local capacity, and adhering to KNH's child rights and protection mandate.

In addition to financial resources for humanitarian aid, we at Kindernothilfe support our partners in building expertise and capacities in this area. We are also helping to ensure that the German public is more aware than before of the importance of Southern NGOs for humanitarian aid. Kindernothilfe therefore annually publishes the share of funds for humanitarian aid which have gone directly to their partner local organizations. In 2018, 29.94% of KNH's  humanitarian funding went directly to our local partner organizations around the world.

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Going Forward and Kindernothilfe's Role

"Though actors have taken steps to ensure aid localisation occurs, one area that remains largely overlooked is that of child rights in humanitarian settings […] As it relates specifically to child rights and protection, localisation at a basic level entails empowering local/national NGO's with expertise on child rights issues to commandeer projects. At a higher level, localisation could mean supporting national governments to implement international and regional statutes so that children can benefit from legislation meant to protect them and safeguard their rights. In fact, localisation could entail adapting international and national policies to relevant socio-political contexts such as, creating locally led Community-Based-Child-Protection Mechanisms (CBCPM´s) and Child Friendly Spaces (CFS), an option explored by many Kindernothilfe partners." (Excerpt from KNH Blog post, "Why localisation matters for greater consideration of child rights in humanitarian settings " written by Shanae McDonald)

Kindernothilfe was among the first wave of INGOs to sign the charter in 2015. However, only few of our L/N NGO partners have endorsed the C4C. KNH therefore intends to create informational content on the C4C which can be disseminated to KNH colleagues as well as to local partners.

The values encoded in the C4C are also the values which guide KNH's programming and which are encoded in our mission and vision. Going forward, our hope is to educate and empower our local partner organizations through the framework of the Charter4Change.