Shifting the Power Project Learning Review 2: Increasing the Voice and Influence of Local and National NGOs

1. Overview and background

The current international humanitarian system, dominated by large international organisations, is being stretched to its limit. Dealing with growing frequency, unpredictability and complexity of emergencies, it appears increasingly unfit to deal with these challenges, let alone address future ones. One opportunity to address these is getting the balance right between international and local response. Local actors are the first and main responders after a disaster strikes: they know the context and speak the language; they are there, and will stay there long after international actors have left. A growing body of evidence demonstrates that partnerships with national and local organisations enhance the relevance, appropriateness, accountability and connectedness of humanitarian responses, and ensure better linking up of relief, rehabilitation and development. Despite this, the current system favours working with large international actors, who frequently ignore local and national actors.

 Six international organisations – ActionAid, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Tearfund, Concern and Oxfam are working together in the Shifting the Power project , which runs from January 2015 to December 2017. By supporting 55 local and national NGO partners in Bangladesh, DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya and Pakistan who share the vision and ambition of playing a leading role in decision making and responding to crises in their countries and regions, this project aims to contribute to the development of a more balanced humanitarian system where local actors take their place alongside international actors. Creating this shift of power towards locally owned and led responses should increase the effectiveness and accountability of humanitarian assistance to disaster affected communities.

 To achieve this, Shifting the Power is strengthening local and national organisational capacity for decision making and leadership in humanitarian response, supporting local organisations to have greater representation, voice and recognition in relevant networks and platforms, and at the same time influencing international organisations to promote the role of local and national actors.

Specifically, the project is seeking to ensure that by December 2017:

  • 55 Local and National partners in Bangladesh, DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya and Pakistan have the knowledge, skills, processes, and policies to prepare for and respond effectively to emergencies;
  • Local and National NGOs (L/NNGOs) are better represented and have a stronger voice in relevant humanitarian platforms and networks;
  • The consortium member INGOs recognise and respond to Local and National NGO capacity, leadership and voice; and
  • The project provides evidence of good practice in strengthening Local and National NGO humanitarian preparedness and response work, and their role/ influence in humanitarian action.

Increasing Voice and Influence of L/NNGOs

As ALNAP’s report on ‘A networked response’ 2013 states “Networks are an increasingly prominent feature of the modern world. In the humanitarian system – characterised as it is by interdependent relationships between autonomous actors and the lack of any central authority or agreed hierarchy – they can be found organising collective action and collaboration in a multitude of settings.”  But currently networks for humanitarian action are dominated by international actors.  As the humanitarian system evolves, and we seek to improve its collective performance, greater investment needs to be made to support local organisations to effectively participate in, set the direction of, and benefit from collaborative approaches. This includes enabling national organisations to accessing resources and funds available through existing networks.  

The Shifting the Power Project has adopted varying strategies and approaches to deliver this objective of increasing the voice and influence of L/NNGOs in humanitarian platforms and networks in the five StP countries. In Ethiopia, the work was initiated through the research, Opportunities and Challenges for Meaningful Participation of Local NGOs in the Humanitarian Architecture in Ethiopia, while in Bangladesh the focus has been the formation of a humanitarian platform for local and national NGOs – National Alliance of Humanitarian Actors in Bangladesh (NAHAB). Pakistan forged a partnership with the established NGO platform, the National Humanitarian Network (NHN) and DRC is working with the two established humanitarian NGO networks – Cadre de Consultation des Organisations Nationales (CCONAT) in South Kivu and the Forum des ONGs Humanitaires et Developement (FONAHD) in North Kivu.  In Kenya, the project has focused on the processes around the drafting of the Disaster Management Policy at County and National levels and more recently focused on the drought response. In all five countries, various forms and levels of engagement continues to be made with key humanitarian platforms from representation to collaboration and partnership that includes the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT), Government Disaster Management Agency/Committee, OCHA coordination mechanism and UN clusters, and INGO consortium or coordinating bodies and in some national NGO or CSO networks involved in both humanitarian and development work. 

 The capacity to control and influence the humanitarian response is a distinct feature of the SHAPE framework, a tool to support the 55 local and national organisations taking part in Shifting the Power project to self-assess, plan and implement humanitarian capacity strengthening activities. The framework is based on a model of humanitarian capacity that emphasises power. It recognises that effective humanitarian organisations do not work in isolation and promotes organisations to establish and grow positive constructive relationships. An earlier Learning Review was conducted to look at the first phase of the project and critically assessed the development, content and use of the SHAPE framework in terms of capacity assessments and prioritisation and capacity strengthening plans.  Findings from this review will serve as the starting point for this second learning review and assess the progress from thereon.

 Objectives of the Review

The purpose of Learning Review 2 is to identify and share within the team, DEPP and wider audience(s):

  • How the 5 STP countries (Bangladesh, DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya and Pakistan) have approached increasing the voice and influence of local and national organisations in their respective contexts 
  • What are the results and good practices including those around processes, strategies and approaches to date;
  • How do existing humanitarian networks operate and influence the humanitarian system decision-making; and
  • Recommendations on how to effectively engage in the  Humanitarian and DRR system and increase the voice and influence of local and national organisations in these networks and platforms

 Expected approach to the review

We are seeking a consultant(s) to lead us through a process that can address the above questions and provide an analysis as well as examples of good practice and learning that can be shared more widely. To do this, we are anticipating that the review would consist of:

  • Desk-based research: reviewing existing documentation, including country advocacy strategy, plans, and reports; SHAPE framework review, partner capacity assessments and capacity strengthening plans, reports and case studies; consultations/workshops/advocacy events proceedings; relevant Shifting the Power project and DEPP studies
  • Consultation and interviews with project staff and partners and discussions with key stakeholders and non-DEPP stakeholders  including field visits to two countries and remote engagement with three countries
  • Workshop to present initial findings, identify lessons learned and draw up recommendations

 The budget available for this review is £10,000 (excluding workshop costs). 

 Timeline and deliverables

We are planning to begin this review in early May and it should be completed by end July 2017. The methodology and process for the review will be agreed with ActionAid, and should include the following deliverables:

  • Workplan for the review, which includes agreed review questions, stakeholders, proposed methodology and timeline
  • Inception report following meeting with project staff and other key stakeholders
  • Presentation of initial findings to and facilitating the discussion to identify learnings and draw up recommendations with project team and other key stakeholders
  • Final report with specific findings and recommendations, case study examples of good practice, and areas of learning identified

Expected background and experience

We are looking for a consultant(s) with extensive knowledge of and experience developing and or reviewing advocacy and influencing projects or organisational capacity development, particularly in the humanitarian sector.

 More specifically, applicants should have:

  • At least  5 years’ experience in the humanitarian sector, specifically on monitoring and evaluation, research and/or participatory reviews
  • Knowledge of humanitarian networks and platforms particularly in the project countries
  • Experience or familiarity with the concepts and thinking around the localisation of aid, particularly organisational power, influence and voice


Specific experience, competencies and skills include:

  • Experience on the use of Social Network Analysis or similar tool for knowledge and learning
  • Demonstrable understanding of organisational capacity strengthening strategies and approaches 
  • Ability to facilitate a learning workshop/event and to think strategically and provide clear and practical recommendations
  • Experience with multi-country reviews and stakeholder engagement

 Applications from individuals in countries where the project is being implemented are welcome

 1. Application process

If you are interested to apply, please submit an Expression of Interest (EoI), which should include:

  • Your CV
  • Short proposal (3-5 pages) including a brief description of anticipated activities, indicative timeline and budget
  • Three references
  • Examples of similar work, including research or evaluation reports

Please send the EoI package by e-mail to Nikita Samaratunga (

 All submissions must be received on or before 24th April 2017. Successful applicants will be contacted for an interview, which will take place at the end of April. Thank you.