Shifting the Power through Developing the Capacity of Local Organisations

The organisations involved in this project acknowledge that local governments, community organisations, faith networks and local NGOs deliver a significant amount of humanitarian assistance and are fundamental to people’s survival in the immediate aftermath of disasters. Unless power in the international humanitarian system is proactively shifted to them, their vital role in relief will be undermined at a time when humanitarian disasters are increasing in number and complexity.

The aim of this project is to support local actors to take their place alongside international actors in order to create a balanced humanitarian system that is more responsive and accountable to disaster-affected communities. It will strengthen local and national organisational capacity for decision making and leadership in humanitarian response. It will as well link local to national organisations and at the same time influence international organisations to promote the role of local and national actors. The Shifting the Power project will demonstrate how this approach can make national responses faster, better quality and more effective.

What change is this project envisioning?

The project envisions four changes:

  1. Stronger national organisations to deliver emergency preparedness & response and in 5 countries
  2. National organisations are better represented and have a stronger voice in relevant humanitarian platforms and networks in their countries
  3. The Consortium agencies (INGOs) recognise and respond to national organisations’ voice and agency
  4. Evidence of good practice in strengthening local organisations’ humanitarian capacities and their role/ influence in humanitarian action is documented and shared beyond the project

What are the key activities associated with this project?

With support from the project team in-country, a minimum of 50 selected local and national partners will have the opportunity to assess their capacity gaps, as well as to plan and implement a two-year process of capacity development. Organisational capacities will be assessed against a Humanitarian Capacity Self-Assessment Framework that will be developed during the project, integrating  the specific dimension of power. The Capacity Development plans developed will be informed by these self-assessments. At the national level the project will build on existing networks as national platforms, and provide support to organisations on effective representation within them. The project will support these platforms to have more representative and accountable governance structures, it will build awareness of funds and ability to access them, and it will facilitate the development of emergency preparedness plans. Finally, the project will document learning through case studies, evidence-gathering working groups and workshops, and advocacy activities.

Latest News

•    The recruitment of the project team is almost complete.
•    The International Inception workshop took place in Nairobi in March 2015.
•    The five project countries are currently involved in selecting the local partner organisations (at least 50 in total) whose capacities will be developed throughout the duration of the project.
•    The Humanitarian Capacity Self-Assessment Framework is about to be finalised, after an extensive consultation process and piloting in each of the 5 countries.
•    The baseline survey is being conducted with local, national and international NGOs to get a snapshot of the power dynamics of the international humanitarian system in the project countries.


ActionAid and CAFOD, leading a consortium including Christian Aid, Tearfund, Oxfam, Concern
Bangladesh, Pakistan, DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya

Key Contacts

Claire Burniat International Project Manager: 

Resources & Further Reading

•    Shifting the Power project one page concept paper
•    Inception Workshop Communiqué. Click here.
•    Missed Opportunities: The Case for Strengthening National and Local Partnership-based Humanitarian Responses. Click here.
•    Missed Again: Making Space for Partnership in the Typhoon Haiyan Response. Click here.


Photo: ActionAid