Localisation and Disasters

Communities themselves best understand the needs of people in their own area. That’s why we always build up local organisations and churches and support locally-led response to disasters.

Tearfund is part of Charter4Change, a global initiative which recognises that international organisations, like us, have to change to ensure that local organisations can grow and have equal access to resources and assets. We are working together with 33 other organisations to enable more locally-led humanitarian response, supported by over 200 national and local organisations from 45 countries. We want to see more funding for local and national organisations and to amplify local voices so they have greater presence and influence.

our approach

Tearfund has two distinct approaches which help empower local churches and partner organisations to develop their capacity and skills to respond to local crises. The first is Tearfund's Disaster Management Capacity Assessment tool which is an in-depth two year programme of support for local organisations to strengthen their capacity and expertise.

The second approach is to promote the role of faith leaders and faith-based organisations in preparing for and responding to disasters. We want to ensure that their knowledge and networks are utilised effectively. You can find out more on Disasters and the Church.

resources on localisation and disasters


Charter4Change is a global initiative, led by both National and International NGOs, to practically implement changes to the Humanitarian System operates to enable more locally-led response.

Charter4Change Progress Report 2017-18
Each chapter of this report looks at progress, challenges, good practice, learning and next steps according to the eight Charter4Change commitments.

Start Network - Localisation projects

Tearfund is one of the 42 member agencies that make up the Start Network, working together to deliver more effective emergency aid. Their programmes enable local decision-making, support the growth of innovation and develop local capacity.  The link provides some great resources and blogs, including some helpful explanatory videos.

Disasters and Emergency Preparedness Programme (DEPP)
DEPP was a three-year programme funded by UK Aid, managed collaboratively by CDAD and the Start Network. The collaborative approach aimed to improve the quality and speed of humanitarian response at a national and local level by building the capacity of national actors.

Shifting the Power Project
Tearfund was the lead agency for the Shifting the Power Project in Pakistan. This three year project helped shift the balance of power by:

  • Strengthening national capacity for decision-making and leadership
  • Helping national organisations achieve better representation, voice and recognition
  • Influencing international organisations to support and promote the work of local and national organisations

Financial Enablers
This three year project aimed to create financial autonomy for NGOs and CSOs. It encouraged the formation and growth of collaborative national partnerships and provided flexible grants for them to decide what capacity development to invest in.

Transforming Surge Capacity
This project made surge capacity more effective and efficient by promoting collaboration and coordination. It helped humanitarian actors work together and find new ways for local agencies and external stakeholders to improve.

Tearfund’s Approach to Localising Capacity Development

Based on the results of the Start Network’s Shifting the Power project, Tearfund is now phasing in the Disaster Management Capacity Assessment tool across all disaster vulnerable countries.  

Disaster Management Capacity Assessment (DMCA) Tool
Also available in French

DMCA Tool Summary
Also available in French

DMCA Guiding Principles
Also available in French

Self-Assessment Report
Also available in French

ECHO Projects (European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations)

Pathways to localisation front coverPathways to Localisation (PDF 1.37 MB)
This paper shares priority actions for partnership-based humanitarian action and for an enabling environment for locally-led humanitarian action. It is informed by more than 400 humanitarian agencies, through research, piloting and the development of National Localisation Frameworks, in Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria and South Sudan.

Accelerating localisation research summary Nepal front cover It was developed as part of the Accelerating Localisation through Partnerships (PDF 652 KB) project implemented by Christian Aid, CARE, Tearfund, ActionAid, CAFOD and Oxfam, guided by national steering committees, and funded by the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) from 2017 to 2019.

Recommendations from Nepal
This two year research project (2017-2019) in Nepal was commissioned by ECHO to establish what operational elements of partnerships between local, national and international NGOs are most likely to foster localisation of humanitarian action.

Bridging the Gap Project
This 12 month project (Oct 18 - Sept 19) in South Sudan seeks to bridge the gap in localisation dialogues by practically facilitating the engagement of faith actors in first line humanitarian response, bringing together faith actors and non-faith actors to increase understanding, trust, coordination and collaboration.

Policy and evidence research:

Bridge Builders Report coverBridge Builders - Strengthening the role of local faith actors in humanitarian response (PDF 4.7MB)
This report features recommendations on strengthening the role of local faith actors in humanitarian response. They are based on the implementation of a two-way capacity sharing model the consortium developed and implemented in South Sudan by Tearfund and other members of the Bridging the Gap consortium in 2019.

Shoulder to Shoulder

Shoulder to shoulder front coverFrom 2018 to 2019, Tearfund and CRUDAN carried out a reflective study looking at the unique model of partnership employed in their response to humanitarian needs in north-east Nigeria. The study found that relationships and attitudes to localisation and partnership were key factors in enabling a locally-led response. For more details, please refer to the following reports:

Shoulder to Shoulder – Policy brief (brief overview of the study, highlighting key policy recommendations) (PDF 547 KB)
Shoulder to Shoulder – Executive summary (brief overview of study including key findings) (PDF 272 KB)
Shoulder to Shoulder – Full report (detailed report) (PDF 486 KB)

Missed Opportunities

This research project includes four studies commissioned by Tearfund, ActionAid, Cafod, Christian Aid and Oxfam GB to look at the the current and future potential of partnerships with national NNGOs in humanitarian response.

Missed opportunities front coverMissed Opportunities: the case for strengthening national and local partnership-based humanitarian responses (PDF 602 KB)
This first study in the project is based on lessons from four emergency settings and highlights key areas where commissioning organisations might consider further investment.

Missed again front coverMissed Again: Making space for partnership in the Typhoon Haiyan response (PDF 3.3 MB)
This study makes recommendations for action to strengthen partnership between the national and international humanitarian systems in the Philippines and more broadly in humanitarian responses in the future.

Missed out front coverMissed Out: The role of local actors in the humanitarian response in the South Sudan conflict (PDF 4.71 MB)
This study seeks to understand the strengths and challenges of working with national and local NGOs in South Sudan’s conflict-driven emergency in 2013, and reviews how the broader humanitarian system facilitates or prevents their involvement.

Opportunity knocks front coverOpportunity Knocks Executive Summary (PDF 580 KB) and Full Report (PDF 1MB)
This study shares lessons learnt in Nepal after the earthquake of 2015, when the government required work to be carried out through national and district-based partners for all but the official phase of the response.

Building the Future of Humanitarian Aid
Christian Aid is another signatory of C4C and invests in disaster response through many of the same local partners as Tearfund. They have produced a report on partnering with local organisations based on their experience and sharing lessons learnt.

Joint Learning Initiative (JLI)

Tearfund participates in the JLI, an international collaboration on evidence for faith groups’ role and contributions to local community health and wellbeing and ending poverty.

Localising Response to Humanitarian Need: The role of religious and faith-based organisations
This is an online information platform for The Forum on Localising Response to Humanitarian Need: The Role of Religious and Faith-based Organisation.

Localising Response to Humanitarian Need conference summary and brief summary report
This conference was held in October 2017 in Sri Lanka and produced a bode of evidence on questions of how to engage local faith actors, and actions to scale up their engagement as local partners.