National NGOs

Bridge Builders: Strengthening the role of local faith actors in humanitarian response in South Sudan: A two-way model for sharing capacity and strengthening localised response

Olivia Wilkinson, Wani Laki and et al
This report outlines and analyses the implementation of the Bridge Builder Model. This is a two-way, capacity-sharing model aimed at bringing together local faith actors (LFAs) and international humanitarian actors to increase understanding, trust, coordination and collaboration.

The model was developed by the Bridging the Gap Consortium (Tearfund UK, Tearfund Belgium, Tearfund in South Sudan, RedR UK, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Islamic Relief in South Sudan, the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities [JLI] and the University of Leeds) and piloted in 2018–2019 in South Sudan.

The overarching goal of the model is for a more effective and timely humanitarian response that best supports those affected by humanitarian crises, in part by integrating LFAs into the response. The model responds to gaps in localisation, where international humanitarian actors have not built partnerships with LFAs and efforts often run in parallel rather than being coordinated. The model provides capacity strengthening for both LFAs and international humanitarian actors, supported by a number of other activities such as small grants and mentoring for the LFAs, and networking workshops for the international humanitarian actors and LFAs.

The report highlights findings from our research and recommendations from the pilot of the Bridge Builder Model for humanitarian organisations and donors seeking ways to increase localisation in humanitarian response

South Sudan HCT Localisation Vision & Strategy

Humanitarian Country Team
People in South Sudan continue to experience multiple crises including conflict, intercommunal violence, food insecurity, mass displacement, economic turmoil and more. Communities lack access to basic services and dependency on humanitarian action remains high. Local and national actors’ play a key role in the humanitarian response. However, there are challenges when these local and national actors form partnerships, including multiple due diligence, administrative, and reporting processes. They lack access to direct funding and lack Capacity strengthening support to help them overcome these challenges.
Recognizing the critical role local actors play in humanitarian action, the Secretary-General at the World Humanitarian Summit of 2016 highlighted the need for humanitarian response to be “as local as possible and as international as necessary”. \t is critical to shift towards a localisation approach which aligns with Grand Bargain’s commitments. This approach must embrace any opportunity to enable local communities to build their resilience and coping mechanisms to mitigate and prevent the impact of any crises.
In early 2022, the IASC undertook a Peer-to-Peer (P2P) review of the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) in South Sudan and recommended a revised approach to localisation and partnership. They noted gaps in equitable partnerships, capacity strengthening, inclusion of local actors in decision-making, and a lack of common understanding of localisation which was often reduced only to funding. Whilst funding remains a significant factor, localisation is and must be understood more broadly if resilience and leadership of local actors is to be achieved.
The HCT agreed to develop a South Sudan localisation vision, strategy and associated targets and timelines. A small group of agencies drawn from UN and the NGO Forum - FAO, the NGO Forum, CHIDDO, CAFOD & Trocaire, and DCA —was tasked to develop the strategy on behalf of the HCT, through a process of consultation with numerous stakeholders from local actors, government, donors, UN system members and NGOs. Additionally, the HCT agreed to establish a new framework for partnership between UN agencies, INGOs and NNGOs, as recommended by the P2P. Combining these approaches, a framework for partnerships is a critical enabler to support meaningful localisation with sustained outcome.
The South Sudan HCT vision and strategy on the localisation of humanitarian response is accompanied by an action plan with targets and timelines? which can be updated, adapted, and revised as needed, reflecting the HCT commitments. These targets and timelines must be supported by measurable indicators that are agreed upon by all HCT members. Progress towards these targets should be kept track of periodically during HCT meetings and discussions should be held regarding reaching these targets in the allocated timeframe.