April is Localization Month on Agrilinks
Welcome to Localization Month on Agrilinks! USAID is committed to promoting and expanding the implementation of the practices and principles that support localization. Throughout the month of April, we encourage you to share your stories, experiences, approaches and practices that prioritize local leadership in the planning, implementation and evaluation of agricultural and related development programming areas.
Words like localization, locally led development, participatory development, and community-led development can mean different things in different contexts and for different groups of people, so we would like to start the month by sharing how USAID defines localization. USAID defines localization as the set of internal reforms, actions and behavior changes that the Agency is undertaking to ensure its work puts local actors in the lead, strengthens local systems and is responsive to local communities. To promote this agenda, USAID is undertaking four lines of effort:
- Adapting our policies and programs to foster locally-led development that is tied to each country’s unique political, social, cultural, economic, and environmental conditions, including through local systems practice and local capacity strengthening;
- Shifting power to local actors, through an inclusive development lens, to include those from marginalized and underrepresented groups and promote space for them to influence and exercise leadership over priority setting, activity design and implementation, and measuring and evaluating results;
- Channeling a larger portion of funding directly to local partners while ensuring accountability for the appropriate use of funds and achievement of development and humanitarian results; and
- Serving as a global advocate and thought leader, using our convening power, partnerships, voice and other tools of development diplomacy to catalyze a broader shift toward locally-led development.
Localization is also about who we engage and how we engage them. As USAID is in the process of reviewing business practices and changing how we work, we’re becoming better at understanding the local systems; the diverse roles that different actors play within them; and how we can collaboratively work together. We’re coming to the table through more equitable partnerships, to join with local actors to learn from their expertise and experiences, and how we engage stakeholders collaboratively to jointly address some of the world’s greatest challenges. Local leadership is essential to generating more effective and inclusive development outcomes.
We have learned from previous initiatives like USAID Forward and Journey to Self-Reliance and are building on those efforts. We’re working to institutionalize localization approaches and principles across the Agency including in various internal policies and guidance. We’ve reaffirmed our commitment to supporting local actors to achieve their objectives, lead development in their communities, and shape their countries’ future, as reflected in the Local Capacity Strengthening Policy. We’re strengthening our teams with dedicated staff providing localization support. We’re expanding the toolkits available to staff and exploring procurement flexibilities like limiting competition to local organizations and transition awards. For example, USAID is identifying new opportunities for local awards, identifying barriers to localization and taking the steps to mitigate those challenges. We've also learned that while localization includes funding flows, it isn't ONLY about funding.
This process of shifting power must also be done inclusively. Localization without inclusion has the potential to reinforce discrimination and unequal power structures within local contexts, and therefore our localization efforts need to intentionally engage women, youth and marginalized and underrepresented groups. Co-designing opportunities and listening tours lead to more effective programs designed to meet local needs and advance local ownership, creating sustainable and inclusive development outcomes.
During this Agrilinks month, USAID wants to hear your localization stories, experiences, and examples. What lessons have you learned while utilizing localization approaches during the design and implementation of activities? What ideas do you have that would help us advance locally-led development? How have you intentionally included people from underrepresented groups as part of your efforts to advance localization? Please share your stories by submitting a blog post, joining our webinar, or reaching out directly to us at [email protected]. Localization is about integrating local voices and leadership into all aspects of our programs. By working together to advance localization, we can achieve more sustainable and inclusive development outcomes.