What makes an organization 'local'?

Karen Sichinga, executive director of Churches Health Association of Zambia, explains why it’s not in anyone’s best interests to generalize about the capacity of local organizations.

Talk of aid localization abounds, but what is the definition of a “local” organization?

It’s one that was conceived in the country where it’s operating, doesn’t have any offices elsewhere and is “organic and homegrown,” Karen Sichinga, executive director of Churches Health Association of Zambia, told Devex at a recent panel on localization in Washington, D.C.

And they shouldn’t be underestimated, Sichinga added.

“Increasingly we hear local organizations don’t have the capacity, they tend to generalize … but local NGOs are not homogeneous ... what we don’t like to hear is that there is no capacity at all,” she told Devex.

Sichinga instead would like to see more focus on collaboration with donors to streamline reporting, pointing to an example when CHAZ was able to produce the same report for use by four different donors thanks to greater communication and cooperation between them.

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About the author

  • Kelli Rogers

    Kelli Rogers is an Associate Editor for Devex. Based on the U.S. West Coast, she works with Devex's team of correspondents and editors around the world, with a particular focus on gender. She previously worked as Devex’s Southeast Asia correspondent based in Bangkok, covering disaster and crisis response, resilience, women’s rights, and climate change throughout the region. Prior to that, she reported on social and environmental issues from Nairobi, Kenya. Kelli holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, and has since reported from more than 20 countries.

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