1. Our Commitments to Humanitarian Partnership and Localisation
CARE believes that it is only through the collective efforts of many actors that overcoming poverty and injustice, and saving lives during emergencies, can be achieved. CARE has long promoted working with local institutions in development settings, to support local capacity, ownership and sustainability. Similarly, CARE increasingly works with partners when responding to emergencies, recognizing that this not only saves lives and achieves greater reach and scale, but also leads to sustainability.
CARE International Definition of Partnership
At the heart of all partnerships for CARE is our goal of addressing social injustice (particular gender inequality and unequal power dynamics) and poverty. Partnerships are purposeful relationships based on mutual trust, equality and learning, with an agreed vision, clear accountability for all parties, and which engage the complementary strengths of the actors involved to collaborate on specific objectives, challenges or opportunities in ways that achieve greater impact than they could achieve alone.
Vision 2030 and the Humanitarian Impact Area Strategy
CARE seeks a world of hope, inclusion, and social justice, where poverty has been overcome and all people live in dignity and security. In our vision for 2030, we put women and girls in the center because we know that we cannot overcome poverty until all people have equal rights and opportunities. With our partners, we aim to support 200 million people from the most vulnerable and excluded communities to overcome poverty and social injustice through six impact areas (Gender Equality; Humanitarian Action; Right to Food, Water, and Nutrition; Women’s Economic Justice; Right to Health; and Climate Justice).
CARE supports transforming the humanitarian sector by putting gender at the center of our responses, ensuring conflict-sensitive community-led interventions, using market-based approaches that protect people’s dignity, and building resilience and social cohesion through our work in communities before, during, and after an emergency. Our work in CARE’s core humanitarian sectors — shelter, WASH, food, and sexual and reproductive health and rights — will always seek to contribute to both gender equality and immediate humanitarian assistance.
By 2030, our goal is that 10% of those affected in major crises receive quality, gender-responsive humanitarian assistance and protection which is locally-led.
 Those under UN Humanitarian Response Plans, or their equivalents
The Value and Imperatives of Humanitarian Partnership and Localisation
CARE believes that it is only through the collective efforts of many actors that overcoming poverty and injustice, and saving lives during emergencies, can be achieved. CARE has long promoted working with local organisations and institutions in both humanitarian and development settings to support local capacity and ownership.
Similarly, CARE increasingly works with local actors as partners when responding to emergencies, recognising that this approach appropriately addresses the immediate needs of the impact population and achieves greater impact and scale.
Partnership is central to CARE’s global vision and mission. We ‘aim to be a partner of choice for governments, civil society organisations, social movements, the private sector and donors who seek long term solutions for fighting poverty and social injustice. When we maximise the potential of different types of partnerships we can collectively achieve more, have greater impact, and do so in more cost-effective, inclusive and sustainable ways. CARE recognises that partners are not a homogenous group and that we have diverse relationships with a variety of different types of partners.
Within the larger Partnership conversation, localising aid has emerged as a critical pillar of the humanitarian reforms adopted at the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS). It calls for a more collaborative and equitable humanitarian system that relies on national and local leadership of humanitarian response, supplemented – not led – by international actors. CARE’s data shows that when our activities are delivered predominantly through partners, our work is of a higher quality and significantly more impactful.
CARE supports and engages with diverse partners in a variety of ways – both formal and informal. CARE knows well the important role of a constantly evolving civil society in mobilising citizens, holding governments accountable for the progressive realisation of human rights, and identifying new solutions to injustice for scale-up, thereby contributing to lasting change.
Localising aid is defined as a shift from international to national/local leadership of humanitarian response. Enshrined in Workstream 2 of the Grand Bargain, it calls for making aid “as local as possible and as international as necessary… engaging with local and national responders in a spirit of partnership and aiming to reinforce rather than replace local and national capacities.”
Recognising that local actors have long been side-lined during response, it seeks to reassert their legitimacy and prominence in terms of visibility and operating space. This approach will require deliberate and concerted global investment in national and local capacities to manage disasters.
Localisation also calls for more direct, accessible funding to local actors and more equitable and effective partnerships. The vision is for locally-led responses as the new norm, where local actors are the first responders and direct receivers of funding, supplemented by international action if, and for as long as, needed.
The Rationale for Partnering with and Enabling Women Leadership in Emergencies
At the World Humanitarian Summit, CARE reaffirmed its commitment to focus on empowering women and girls as change agents and leaders, and to further support women-led groups to participate in humanitarian action.
There is growing recognition that women’s involvement in response leads to improved outcomes for relief and post-conflict stability. The leadership of local women’s groups in humanitarian action is increasingly seen as lifesaving. In many contexts, local actors (CSOs, government) tend to be male-headed and patriarchal. This tends to negatively impact the gender responsiveness of localised humanitarian action and the specific assistance and protection needs of women and girls. Stand-alone funding for gender work in emergencies, especially when directed to local women’s groups, can improve aid effectiveness.
CARE views partnerships with women’s organisations as central, not only to its goal of strengthening gender equality and women’s voice, but also for transforming its own organisational culture to successfully deliver its focus on gender equality. While CARE collaborates with diverse actors (including civil society, private sector, government), it recognises the need to strengthen partnerships and focus them more explicitly on addressing the agency (capacities and aspirations), structures (enabling environment) and relations (power dynamics) that lead to gender equality, as prescribed by its Gender Equality Framework.
As part of its gender in emergencies (GiE) work over recent years, CARE has honed its understanding and practice of what it takes to deliver more inclusive and equitable humanitarian programs in partnership with local civil society. CARE’s Gender in Emergencies approach prescribes building capacity and accountability to ensure that CARE and its partners commit to gender-sensitive programming in partnership-based operating models.
CARE has developed guidance to promote gender-sensitive partnerships. This tool assists staff to assess the interest and capacity of partners for gender-sensitive emergency programming and to promote gender-sensitive working relationships. CARE also invests in building strategic alliances at all levels (local, national, regional, global) to bring about broad systemic change towards more gender-accountable and gender-equitable humanitarian policy and practice.
CI’s External Commitments to Humanitarian Partnership and Localisation
CARE has made its partnering ambition clear, enshrining Partnership as a core Program principle and endorsing the Principles of Partnership (2007), the Charter for Change and the Grand Bargain (2016).
With these commitments, CARE welcomes the extensive consultations and discussions on humanitarian partnerships, operationalising the recommendations arising through the WHS process. CARE commits to deliver change within our own organisational ways of working so that southern-based national actors can play an increased and more prominent role in humanitarian response.
Principles of Partnership
The Global Humanitarian Platform, created in July 2006, brings together UN and non-UN humanitarian organisations on an equal footing. Committed to building and nurturing an effective partnership, the organisations participating in the Global Humanitarian Platform agree to base their partnership on the following principles:
- Equality. It requires mutual respect between members of the partnership irrespective of size and power. The participants must respect each other’s mandates, obligations and independence and recognise each other’s constraints and commitments. Mutual respect must not preclude organisations from engaging in constructive dissent.
- Transparency. It is achieved through dialogue (on equal footing), with an emphasis on early consultations and early sharing of information. Communications and transparency, including financial transparency, increase the level of trust among organisations.
- Result-oriented approach. Effective humanitarian action must be reality-based and action-oriented. This requires result-oriented coordination based on effective capabilities and concrete operational capacities.
- Responsibility. Humanitarian organisations have an ethical obligation to each other to accomplish their tasks responsibly, with integrity and in a relevant and appropriate way. They must make sure they commit to activities only when they have the means, competencies, skills, and capacity to deliver on their commitments. Decisive and robust prevention of abuses committed by humanitarians must also be a constant effort.
- Complementarity. The diversity of the humanitarian community is an asset if we build on our comparative advantages and complement each other’s contributions. Local capacity is one of the main assets to enhance and on which to build. Whenever possible, humanitarian organizations should strive to make it an integral part in emergency response. Language and cultural barriers must be overcome.
Charter for Change Commitments
- Increase direct funding to southern-based NGOs for humanitarian action: Commit through advocacy and policy influence to North American and European donors (including institutional donors, foundations and private sector) to encourage them to increase the year on year percentage of their humanitarian funding going to southern-based NGOs.
- Reaffirm the Principles of Partnership: Endorse, and have signed on to, the Principles of Partnership, (Equality, Transparency, Results-Oriented Approach, Responsibility and Complementarity) introduced by the Global Humanitarian Platform in 2007.
- Increase transparency around resource transfers to southern-based national and local NGOs: Commit to document the types of organisation we cooperate with in humanitarian response and to publish these figures (or percentages) in our public accounts using a recognised categorisation such as the GHA in real-time and to the IATI standard.
- Stop undermining local capacity: Identify and implement fair compensation for local organisations for the loss of skilled staff if and when we contract a local organisation’s staff involved in humanitarian action within 6 months of the start of a humanitarian crisis or during a protracted crisis, for example along the lines of paying a recruitment fee of 10% of the first six months’ salary.
- Emphasise the importance of national actors: Undertake to advocate to donors to make working through national actors part of their criteria for assessing framework partners and calls for project proposals.
- Address subcontracting: Our local and national collaborators are involved in the design of the programmes at the outset and participate in decision-making as equals in influencing programme design and partnership policies.
- Robust organisational support and capacity strengthening: Support local actors to become robust organisations that continuously improve their role and share in the overall global humanitarian response.
- Communication to the media and the public about partners: Promote the role of local actors and acknowledge the work that they carry out in any communications to the international and national media and to the public, and include them as spokespersons when security considerations permit.
Grand Bargain Commitments Localisation Workstream
Content coming soon.
CI Policies and Mandates that Guide CARE’s Approach to Humanitarian Partnership and Localisation
CARE’s Vision 2030 guides us for the next 10 years as we aim to influence change beyond the communities where we work directly. CARE will strengthen its support to civil society, social movements, representative organisations of excluded groups in line with our vision and mission to contribute to change through their collective actions, as leaders, allies, resource partners and amplifiers. We have a key role to play as a bridge-builder, connecting “new power” movements to “old power” in ways that influence, transform, and accelerate change. We adapt our internal systems to enable us to work with informal and formal actors as needed for optimal impact.
One of CI’s Program Principles is ‘Working with Partners’. We work with others to maximise the impact of programs, building alliances and partnerships with those who offer complementary approaches, are able to scale up effective solutions, and/or have responsibility to fulfil rights and reduce poverty through policy change and implementation. We commit to working in ways that support and reinforce, not replace, existing capacities.
CI’s Humanitarian Impact Area Strategy describes partnerships as critical for the agency to fulfill its humanitarian mandate. The strategy recognises that CARE is part of a larger humanitarian ecosystem requiring collaboration and partnering among a diverse set of actors to deliver effective and timely responses at scale.
CARE aspires to be part of a locally-led humanitarian system where local capacities are reinforced, not replaced. To achieve this, CARE is aiming for the following:
- Strategic and equitable partnerships with local actors
- Partnerships with WLO/WROs
- Locally-led response complemented by surge as needed
- Localised preparedness and resilience
- Humanitarian partnership platforms
- Local access to global spaces of influence
- Meaningful mainstreaming of localisation
CARE Framework for Partnering in Humanitarian Action and Localising Aid
As an integral part of CI’s Vision 2030, CARE embraces “new power” and broadens partnerships in support of civil society. We see our partners as agents of change, particularly youth and social movement actors, feminist organisations, activists and aligned and progressive private sector actors. In particular, recognising the role feminist organisations have played in gender equality progress, we prioritise relationships with women’s rights organisations and identify opportunities to support their agenda. We invest in civil society strengthening and act as a leader, ally, amplifier, and resource partner.
Risks are a natural aspect of every project.
CARE acknowledges that, as a social justice actor and agent of change, certain risks may need to be accepted. The process of risk management is about uncovering, understanding and appropriately mitigating perceived and anticipated risks to arrive at a position where risks are acceptable to CARE and to our partners.
(CI Partner Funding Agreement Policy, July 2021)
Risks in Partnerships within Fast-paced Responses
With the humanitarian sector becoming increasingly risk-averse, risk management for humanitarian partnerships is affected by the power imbalance between INGOs and national or local partners, where INGOs tend to focus on the risks of partners, rather than the risks to partners with an overwhelming focus on fiduciary risk followed by legal and compliance. This is reflected in the content of INGO partnership policies and in the positioning of partnership functions within finance and compliance teams. By transferring risk to partners and taking a punitive approach to partnerships, INGOs and donors are contributing to a vicious cycle of risk.
Limited access to unrestricted funding in CARE Country Presences is often cited as a barrier to more meaningful engagement with partners, since it creates a preference for short-term, transactional and project-focused partnership models in an effort to mitigate both reputational and financial risks.
In general practice, women’s rights organisations, women responders and other small grassroots organisations often lack or have weak organisational systems and capacity and therefore cannot always effectively meet due diligence standards, or meet them at the levels of more established organisations. Consequently, INGO partnership models are often unable to accommodate partnerships with these actors. Moreover, they may be affiliated with political, religious or ethnic groups or apply a rights-based approach which may appear to conflict with humanitarian principles.
These “high risk” factors often become barriers for partnerships with actors who have incredible potential to support CARE’s goals around gender transformation. CARE needs to have a supportive and collaborative model, which emphasises transparency, trust and capacity strengthening and accepts some level of risk.
There is a strong desire within CARE to move towards a more localised way of working and there are positive examples of this happening in practice.
 CARE International Partner Funding Agreement Policy, v. July 2021.
Summary of Good Practices
- Creating a database of vetted local partners in advance of emergencies to diversify partnerships
- Development and operationalisation of a country-level partnership strategy and dedicating a focal point to move forward the strategies and plans
- Flexibility of funding that allows more support to activities engaging the partners (e.g. access to quick emergency response funding and capacity strengthening activities)
- Provision of capacity strengthening activities to partners based on their needs
- Constant updating of country-level risk registers to help manage risks in collaboration with partners
- Engaging partners in all phases of emergency response (from proposal writing to budget planning, implementation to monitoring)
- Simplifying due diligence and compliance processes during high-risk emergencies
- Advocating with donors for budget flexibility and inclusion of overhead costs for partners
- Bringing partners to global advocacy consultations and discussion
- Setting up functional feedback and accountability mechanisms with partners
- In the Philippines, CARE established the Humanitarian Partnership Platform (HPP) adopting a decentralised model. With seven major partners working with their own network of local partners (over 30 in total), CARE acts as convenor, donor, relationship and knowledge broker, capacity builder to prepare for and respond to crises. This approach leads to increased timeliness, coverage, access and relevance of responses as well as more robust and confident partners. The HPP approach is also being replicated in Nepal, Indonesia, and Guatemala.
- In Tonga, CARE had a formal partnership with local organisations in conducting preparedness planning. When Cyclone Gita struck Tonga in 2018, CARE maximised its existing partnerships leading to increased reach, swift response, efficient administration, cost-efficient procurement, increased sustainability and strengthened partners’ capacity.
- In Yemen, CARE partnered with the Humanitarian Leadership Academy to provide online courses and learning to local partners.
- In Syria, CARE strengthened the internal capacity of partners to manage the projects more effectively and with greater equality given the risks around its type of emergency. CARE focused on building partner capacity for implementation and monitoring.
- In the Pacific, CARE Australia strategically works with local organisations on disaster preparedness and response in island nations where there is no CARE operational presence.
- In Nepal, CARE led national advocacy efforts to ensure international actors including donor increase their funding allocation to local and national actors.
- In South Sudan, CARE put special attention to partners’ visibility and recognition. Any advocacy messages and events always acknowledge and recognise the role of their local partners in their communication materials.
- In Vietnam, CARE strategically partners with local organisations and provides capacity strengthening to them to be able to reach indigenous and marginalised groups.