Rethinking capacity and complementarity for a more local humanitarian action

Humanitarian action has been a mainly international endeavour, where power continues to lie with donors, UN agencies and large INGOs. This led to a call at the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 for humanitarian action to be as ‘local as possible, as international as necessary’, which has inspired numerous debates and initiatives, including the Grand Bargain. To better inform humanitarian action that is as local as possible and as international as necessary, the Humanitarian Policy Group at Overseas Development Institute launched a two-year research project on capacity and complementarity in 2017.

This report draws on research conducted during the project, including an initial paper reviewing literature and practice that provides a diagnosis of current challenges; a case study on the response to the Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh, which delves deeper into questions of localisation in a refugee context; and a case study on the humanitarian response to conflicts in South Kivu and Kasai Central in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which looks at capacity and complementarity in protracted and emerging conflict contexts.