Mar 15
9:30am (CET)

NGOs and Risk: Managing Uncertainty in Local-International Partnerships (Geneva, Switzerland)


In humanitarian emergencies where access is limited and risk is high, people’s ability to obtain vital assistance often depends on partnerships between national and international aid organizations. The localization commitments of the Grand Bargain call for more support and a greater share of resources to go to national and local NGOs. At the same time, humanitarians face countervailing pressures that complicate and disincentivize local partnering. These include intensifying financial scrutiny, legal constraints, and punitive repercussions for losses in highly volatile and high-risk environments. The collision between localization and growing risk aversion has distorted national-international partnership dynamics and resulted in greater risks, hindrances and inefficiencies for humanitarian action. This report examines how risk is perceived and managed in partnerships between international and national NGOs working in humanitarian response. It follows from the 2016 report NGOs and Risk: How international humanitarian actors manage uncertainty, which was also produced by InterAction and Humanitarian Outcomes.

The study was funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) and benefited from the direct engagement of 10 international humanitarian NGOs. The research encompassed interviews with 117 humanitarian practitioners, undertaken remotely and in field visits to South Sudan and Nigeria, 446 survey responses from (mostly national) NGO field staff, and a systematic review of relevant policies from the participating organizations. In analyzing this evidence, the report identifies the trends, challenges and promising practices in this area, with the aim of strengthening partnerships for improved humanitarian action.

Lindsay Hamsik with InterAction and Abby Stoddard with Humanitarian Outcomes, will provide a presentation of the study findings followed by a roundtable discussion with NGOs on the study recommendations.