Empowering Local and National Humanitarian Actors

Photo credit: Julius Kasujja/Oxfam

The current humanitarian system has saved countless lives over the past 50 years. However, it is now overstretched and underfunded; unable to meet rising needs of crisis affected countries and providing assistance that is often insufficient, inappropriate and late. There is growing support for a shift of power and resources to local and national humanitarian actors. Local and national actors are the first responders when crisis hits and know the local context better than internationals, and yet receive a tiny fraction of international aid.

Informed by this context, Oxfam in Uganda implements an innovative project entitled Empowering Local and National Humanitarian Actors (ELNHA) that aims at strengthening the capacity of local and national humanitarian actors to take lead in Uganda’s humanitarian response.

The project is premised on a study titled Fresh analysis of the Uganda humanitarian capacity, which involved a number of national actors including relevant government ministries, INGOs, private sector as well as a number of stakeholders across 7 districts.

The study highlighted the fact that international actors dominate the humanitarian scene and there is need for all stakeholders, both local and international, to draw a plan that will actively involve more local and national actors in humanitarian planning, readiness and preparedness as well as to provide affordable and more sustainable humanitarian response.

The ELNHA project came at the backdrop of an influx of South Sudan refugees to West Nile in the North western part of Uganda as fresh fighting broke out in July 2016. This saw the number of refugees soar up leaving an overstretch in the response due to underfunding.

This is by no means the only crisis. Uganda hosts a total of over 500,000 refugees from neighboring DRC, Burundi, and Rwanda among others. Floods, landslides, drought, unpredictable weather patterns that affect small holder farmers and one of the highest population growth rates in the world are some of Uganda’s humanitarian crises.

ELNHA, envisages that by the end of 2018, local and national humanitarian actors will have the capacity to design, deliver and lead in humanitarian preparedness and response in Uganda. Also, these actors will have the space and power to influence the humanitarian agenda in the country while large international donors will have tailored their policies; strategies and systems to enable local and national humanitarian actors lead in response and preparedness.

Oxfam aims to see a shift of power, resources and capabilities towards Local or National Humanitarian Actors such as national or local government and the civil society.