In the last few years, like-minded organizations and especially local and national NGOs have come together and formed collaborative regional networks. Some of these include the African Centre for Humanitarian Action, The Asian Disaster Response and Risk Reduction Network, to mention but a few. These networks have been able to influence debates and policies and to voice concerns of local NGOs. However, there has not been enough sustained support and investment in national and local NGOs networks.
Additionally, these successful examples of local and national NGO networks have found sustained funding difficult to come by and have therefore ebbed and flowed in terms of their presence, activities and level of engagement. Local NGOs have therefore had to join existing global networks which rarely prioritize their voices.
The voices of their more international counterparts are given much precedence, leaving little or no opportunity for local and national organizations to address systematic gaps that exist and the challenges they face as those who are often first responders in their own communities.
Majority of the focus has been on formation of networks around issue areas such as Disaster Risk Reduction and Response, and have been setup by international organisations or platforms. Moreover, none of these networks have operated at a global level, focusing instead on regional and national levels. So far, there has been no global, cross-organizational initiative with a primary focus on local and national NGOs that are locally rooted, founded and headquartered and who respond to crisis and development issues in their communities.
NEAR is the first platform that is global and for local and national actors.
54 organisations locally rooted organisations that are working directly with communities have signed commitments to join the network. A working group has been formed to develop the membership criteria. Once this is finalised the membership of these 54 organizations will be formalised. The organisations that have committed to join the network so far are from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Over 350 participants from 250 local and national NGOs were consulted in the creation of the network.
Near is headquartered in Nairobi with Adeso acting as the incubating organisation by hosting the network secretariat and providing management support through financial, communications, human resource and resources mobilisation services.
The Members’ Assembly will be the highest body. There will be a leadership council constituted of 4 elected and 3 nominated members to provide strategic guidance, coordinate and assist in development of the governing structure, branding and operationalization of the network. It will ensure the network is well-run and important decisions are made in a timely manner. The main areas of their responsibility are :
- safeguarding the mission,
- setting values and standards,
- approving the membership criteria
- extending outreach and
- to provide advice and guide the secretariat to maintain highest level of participation,
- accountability and transparency standard in its management functions
Statutes, rules and regulations will be developed to govern the network. There will be a chairperson who will provide leadership and a treasurer who will provide oversight and good stewardship for funds raised in the name of the network.
There will be a secretariat that will service the members and execute the network’s strategy. An executive director with the team of key staff will provide support to the leadership council, engage with members and ensure smooth running of the network business. The secretariat will also promote the network’s mission, vision and values and communicate with external stakeholder. The executive director will engage in resource mobilisation to ensure sustainability of the network.
An advisory group of experienced individuals will be formed to provide guidance to the leadership council and the secretariat. Working groups will be set up to assist the leadership council and the secretariat on need basis.
NEAR will focus on four main areas.
We will enhance policy-level and operational collaboration between local and national organisations. We aim to increase local influence on decision-making at international, regional and national policy level through advocacy, networking and communication.
We believe that robust and resilient member organisations are key to increasing local capacity to respond to crisis and development challenges. We offer a platform for collaboration along with learning resources to strengthen organisational capacity of our members as well as their accountability and preparedness to respond to the needs of their communities.
We advocate for increased access to direct funding for local and national organisations. As part of this we are exploring the design of innovative financing models including piloting independent, pooled funding mechanisms at country levels managed by the network. The national funds would invest in the standing responsive capacity of organisations working with local communities and strengthen their ability to work with a wide range of partners, both for humanitarian aid, development and resilience building.
Research and Humanitarian Evidence-based publications
We counteract the lack of visibility in the international space of organisations working with local communities by actively promoting their work through research and evidence-based publications.
The network will work with like-minded organisation to restructure the system and ensure that the system is fit for the future and people are at the centre of response. It will work to improve power relations and actively promote equitable and dignified partnerships and fare resource distribution.
The topic of localisation was at the centre of discussions at the WHS. Over 150 participants, majority of whom were from INGO community were present and actively engaged in conversations at the launch of NEAR network on 22 May, 2016.
NEAR has also been actively involved in shaping the Charter 4 Change commitments and is part of the steering committee. At the summit, NEAR organised a joint side-event with Charter 4 Change. Leading to the summit, the WHSsecretariat consulted with the network on local and national representation on the high level panels and special sessions. NEAR was also involved in the finance working group of the high level panel for financing.
OCHA have been very supportive to NEAR network.