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I’m Killki and I attended the ACFID conference this year and I really liked to understand more how local actors play a critical role in planning, advising, implementing and evaluating aid initiatives within ‘global minority’ countries. In countries experiencing crises, such as Myanmar and Afghanistan, the rapid escalation of human suffering as well as worsening security situations have pushed out INGOs and their ability to deliver aid personally, on the ground. This has elevated the role of local actors. 

Local actors work in cooperation with INGOs, they negotiate with opposing militaries in order to move around the country in relative safety; risking it all to pass through ‘no-man’s land’ in their attempts to deliver aid. Above all, local actors are the frontline responders in protracted crises where humanitarian capacity is restrained. The success of these local actors demonstrates their immense value not only in crises but in the delivery of all aid initiatives as local knowledge, communication, and context directly impacts the success and effectiveness of aid projects. 

Najeeba Wazefadost (speaker at the session) is an Australian-Afghan refugee whose passion lies in advocating for Afghans and women in particular. Najeeba discussed the growing number of internally displaced people who have little support. As the Afghan situation deteriorates, more targeted work ‘on the ground’ needs to occur in order to provide meaningful aid. Najeeba also pressed for greater value to be given to locals, importantly, raising the issue of mental health access for volunteers, to better improve their ability to help others on the ground. 

The main takeaway from this session was that it is in the interests of international organisations to work more collaboratively with local actors to improve this relationship which will, in turn, improve the outcomes of aid initiatives.

 

Written by Results Advocate, Killki Salazar