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RT13 - Co-option or complementarity? Locally-Led Development Initiatives and the #ShiftthePower movement

Emmanuel Kumi and Thomas Yeboah (University of Ghana, Ghana), Badru Bukenya and Innocent Kamya (Makarere University, Uganda), Nicola Banks and Gijs Van Selm (University of Manchester, UK), Willem Elbers and Lau Schulpen (Radboud University, the Netherlands), and Margit Van Wessel (Wageningen University, the Netherlands)

In 2016 the Global Fund for Community Foundations catalysed the #ShiftthePower movement in an open letter to International NGOs (INGOs) demanding a move away from top-down and hierarchical aid chains towards aid chains in which national and local organisations have ownership over their development agendas and the power and resources they need to pursue these successfully.

Following on from the earlier adoption of principles of localisation in the humanitarian sector, in recent years there has been a wave of interest in and action from INGOs as they begin to explore pathways to ‘locally-led’ development. This workshop will present recent research that maps the early experiences of locally-led development initiatives taking place among INGOs globally and how these are experienced by Global South organisations around the world. It will also explore the civil society landscape in Ghana and Uganda to see what locally-rooted systems are emerging or growing in ways that provide an alternative to Northern-dominated aid hierarchies.

As well as drawing out exciting best practices and shining light on the obstacles INGOs face on this path to ‘locally-led development’, we also ask the critical question, ‘to what extent are LLD initiatives supporting the broader #ShiftthePower movement?’. Despite these terms often being used interchangeably they represent fundamentally different perspectives and ideologies. Are any ‘touch points’ emerging from INGO best practice that are supporting a more Southern-centric aid system and a stronger, more durable civil society around the world?