Local Humanitarian Leadership

ANCHORED IN LOCAL REALITY: Case Studies on Local Humanitarian Action from Haiti, Colombia, and Iraq


Critics of international humanitarian aid have long suggested that the system needs to be more inclusive of actors from crisis-affected countries. Increased attention to this issue over the past decade or so has coalesced into a set of agendas often referred to as the “localization” of humanitarian assistance, “local humanitarian leadership” (LHL), and “local humanitarian action” (LHA). However, there is little consensus about key definitions and concepts related to these terms. What does “local” actually mean? Who qualifies as a “local humanitarian actor”? What are the goals of these agendas? In general, these conversations have been led by and focused on the experiences of international humanitarian actors, which has shaped the discourse about both the status quo and necessary reforms. Now, there are efforts underway to elevate the voices of local humanitarian actors in these conversations. This paper offers insight from local actors into fundamental questions of this discussion in three different contexts: a region of Haiti recovering from a hurricane, displacement and political crisis in Iraqi Kurdistan, and the overlapping pressures of migration, conflict, and climate change in Colombia.



Sabina Robillard, Isabella Jean, Tara Gingerich, Carlos Esteban Mejía, Ledis Bohórquez Farfan, Daryl Grisgraber, Tonny Joseph, and Daniel Maxwell


Feinstein International Center, Tufts University, Oxfam

Date Published

April 1, 2021