In 2016, then UN Secretary-General encouraged humanitarian action to be ‘as local as possible and as international as necessary’. This principle, embodied in the Grand Bargain, calls for international NGOs and aid agencies to provide expertise and support rather than dominating humanitarian response at the expense of local leadership, expertise, and resources.
However, progress towards this goal has been slow, with some of our local partners expressing concern over a lack of interest among international agencies to work towards their Grand Bargain commitments. We see it all too often – in the hectic aftermath of disasters, there is a race to respond with limited time, funds, or interest in capacity development.
We heard these concerns and, in the interest of localised action, launched the H2H-funded Rapid Onset Localisation Team (ROLT) in the Asia-Pacific region, the area of the world most frequently affected by disasters. In the last 50 years, 6.9 billion people have been affected by natural hazards in the region, with climate change now threatening to increase both the severity and frequency of disasters.
The ROLT, consisting of regional and local experts who are experienced in humanitarian relief, are on standby and ready to respond to crises at short notice. In the event of a disaster, they’ll deliver training, online or face-to-face, to local organisations at the heart of early responses.
With the support of the H2H Get Ready Fund, the deployment procedures and policies for the ROLT have been developed, our inaugural ROLT members have been recruited, and the first short training modules are now available online.
This new and innovative approach will improve local capacity and assist local organisations in more effectively engaging with humanitarian coordination mechanisms. Our expert ROLT members will provide accessible training modules to ensure local responders have the best chance at implementing effective humanitarian responses. These early first responders will be the direct beneficiaries of the ROLT programme, but its impact will not end there; the communities at the receiving end of local aid will benefit too.
In effect, the ROLT takes the skills and knowledge of experienced humanitarian professionals and, through immediate training, places them in the hands of local organisations responding on the ground. It’s a way of leveraging the skills of regional experts for the benefit of local responders in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.
For ROLT to be effective, it is essential to have good regional and local partners. So, establishing partnerships within areas likely to be affected by disasters in the future is extremely important. Thankfully, RedR UK is not only part of the H2H network with its local and international partner organisations, but also part of the RedR Federation. As such, our sister organisations in Asia such as RedR India, RedR Indonesia and RedR Malaysia have been supporting the ROLT pilot project and will also play an important role for likely activations in the region.
Over the coming months we will be extending ROLT into other regions, will establish more partnerships and onboard more local and regional humanitarian experts. In this process we expect to call again on the support of our H2H partners of which some may be key to a successful first ROLT activation providing technical input or translation of key documents.
As for now, to fully determine the effectiveness and impact of ROLT we are still awaiting the first activation of the Asia pilot ROLT team. Meanwhile, we are very proud to say that with the support of H2H Network funding, we now have a roster of strong local and regional humanitarians and trainers from the Asia region (and beyond) ready and able to respond at a moment’s notice to the next disaster in Asia and the Pacific.