Policy Brief: Policy Principles To Support Effective And Sustainable Local Leadership In Humanitarian Response And Development Assistance

Rooted in Catholic Social Teaching, CRS is committed to its principle of subsidiarity: the understanding that communities, who are the closest to challenges, are artisans of their own development. Supporting locally-led development and strong and effective local leadership encompasses this subsidiarity ideal. People should play a central role in their individual, community, and societal development, including that touched by humanitarian and development assistance programs. Building and strengthening local leadership and their institutions ensures that CRS’ work respects the dignity and agency of each person and community we serve and uplifts CRS’ approach of accompanying local institutions to serve the common good. CRS affirms local leadership is critical for effective, meaningful and sustainable humanitarian response and development and must be a priority for the future of foreign assistance.

CRS proposes six key policy principles, rooted in CRS’ experience with partners around the world, as well as the efforts of our peer agencies, partners, donors, and others, to encourage, support and expand locally-led humanitarian and development efforts:

  1. Effective partnerships underpin effective transition to local leadership.
  2. Local leadership requires local actors as implementers and leaders.
  3. Holistic, not transactional, capacity strengthening is critical for sustainable change.
  4. Funding mechanisms and conditions help determine localization success.
  5. A broad and inclusive civil society, including faith-based organizations (FBOs), is important.
  6. Government matters: localization should not replace an effective public social service sector.