This research was commissioned by the Accelerating Localisation through Partnerships programme – a multi-agency consortium programme funded by the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) over two years (2017-2019) – to establish what operational elements of partnerships between local, national and international NGOs are most likely to foster localisation of humanitarian action.
The research was underpinned by a mixed methods approach using qualitative and quantitative data collection approaches. In-depth consultations were conducted in three locations across Myanmar to reach a varied sample of local and national actors: Sittwe, Magway, and Myitkinya. In total, 98 NGOs were consulted for this research in Myanmar; 87% of which were local or national NGOs.
The findings reflect experiences from a rich diversity of local and national NGOs in Myanmar and provide valuable insights that can assist humanitarian organisations in ensuring partnership practices accelerate localisation of humanitarian action. Findings are also relevant for those funding humanitarian response, in particular signatories of the Grand Bargain.
Local and national NGOs in Myanmar believe their own organisations have only limited influence on humanitarian decision-making with donors and United Nations (UN) agencies. Partnerships, while not perceived as equitable, are still seen by the majority as instrumental in meeting the needs of crisisaffected people in disaster response operation.
The seven core organisational capabilities important for effective partnerships in Myanmar ranked highest by research participants were: Capacity building and organisational development; Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning (MEAL); Project design, planning and management; Financial management and reporting; Consultation and coordination; Fundraising; and Human resources (HR) management. Examples of partnership practices which are most and least conducive to localisation are outlined in the report with relation to each of these seven core organisational capabilities. Core values and principles highlighted as the most important for partnerships by research participants were: shared commitments to humanitarian programme quality, humanitarian principles, and accountability to affected populations. Trust and respect were voiced as critical to partnerships and many of the examples of partnership practices which are least conducive to localisation reflect a lack of these values, particularly in conflict settings.
National and local NGOs should continue to play an important leadership role in project design and planning, advocacy, coordination, logistics, and human resources management, while INGOs can make the most important contribution to partnerships by supporting L/NNGOs with fundraising, financial management and technical expertise. Research findings suggest that longer-term partnerships between INGOs and L/NNGOs will result in partnership practices most conducive to localisation. NGOs and civil society organisations in Myanmar will need to better understand the reasons why natural hazard and conflict contexts have differing levels of satisfaction in partnerships. Additionally, partnership practices should recognise the unique place that volunteers and their networks hold in humanitarian efforts.
Eleven key recommendations emerged from the research including: Jointly review research findings and recommendations; identify external factors restricting localisation through partnerships; review partnership agreements; assess capacity strengthening needs of local and national actors; assess capacity building skills of international actors; support organisational / policy development; hold discussions around understanding of humanitarian principles; invest in disaster preparedness and risk reduction; hold frank discussions on direct access to funding; Support linkages and understanding between local actors and donor agencies; support local and national organisations to be financially sustainable.
The Accelerating Localisation through Partnerships consortium members will be testing these recommendations in a pilot phase; learning from which will inform a Localisation Framework for Myanmar and a global Pathways to Localisation report. The consortium are keen to hear from organisations and agencies with feedback or learning from their own experiences of implementing these recommendations.