The localization surge
MSF used to run an ad: “The world is our emergency room.” Snappy, no? Raises an eyebrow or two if wiped over a photograph, say, of dusty civilians shouldering a wounded neighbour, or starving children swallowed by their swaddling. It also raises an important challenge to the implementation of the “localization” agenda. By definition, responding to crisis – to extraordinary levels of need – requires some form of surge, a capacity to scale up aid operations in response to crisis. The UN- and Western NGO-led humanitarian system already struggles in this regard (see, e.g., MSF’s “Where is Everyone”). Local organizations might struggle further. In how many nations could even the combined NGO community open and maintain 19 surgical theatres, as MSF did within weeks of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, or mount 53 million Euros of operations in about 4.5 months?
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