Local First


“Local First is a development approach that looks first for the capacity within countries before bringing in external expertise and resources, recognizes that much of this capacity is found outside central government, and understands that local people need to lead their own development.

“It’s hard to imagine a simpler or more commonsense idea.”
Carolyn Hayman, OBE, Peace Direct

I had the pleasure of attending a presentation by Carolyn at Oxfam’s office on 30 March 2013. She laid out a hierarchy that she has applied to peace-building activities, but which applies equally well to humanitarian assistance and development:

  • Locally led, where the local partner formulates the approach, and the outside agency provides, for example, resources and connections to organizations working in similar ways for mutual learning and support.
  • Locally owned, where the approach comes from outside but there is a determined effort to ‘transplant’ the ownership of the work to a legitimate local organization that over time can transform the program into one that is locally led.
  • Locally implementedwhere the approach comes from outside and a local organization is selected to implement it, without having been involved in setting the priorities or the approach, and where there is no transfer of ownership.

All of us present clearly aspire to “Locally led” approaches, yet too often the closest organizations get is “locally delivered.”

Carolyn’s organization, Peace Direct, has published a book on the subject, and there is a great summary brochure that can be downloaded from their site.

See http://www.localfirst.org.uk for more information.

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