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USAID must set agency-wide definition of local entity for its localization work

March 07, 2022


Increasing authentic, locally led development is the paramount challenge facing our sector. To ensure accountability to USAID’s commendable initial commitment to provide 25% of its funding directly to local organizations by 2025, it is essential to have a clear definition of local entity that allows for data collection and tracking. We firmly believe that definition should not include the locally established partners of international organizations.

— Dr. Tessie San Martin, Chief Executive Officer, FHI 360

Click here to download a PDF version of the local entity sign on letter below:

Amb. Samantha Power
U.S. Agency for International Development
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004

Development and Humanitarian Community Calls on USAID to Set a Clear, Tight, Agency-Wide Definition of Local Entity for Its Localization Work

Dear Administrator Samantha Power,

We, the undersigned international development and humanitarian organizations, celebrate Administrator Power’s vision of a more locally led future for foreign assistance, as laid out in her address at Georgetown University in November of 2021. To realize these reforms with transparency and accountability, we recommend that USAID create a clear and consistent definition of “local entity,” which eliminates the category of “Locally-Established Partners” in all current or pending regulations.

Setting a USAID definition of “local entity” applicable to all Bureaus and initiatives would increase the Agency’s ability to track progress towards the laudable goal that 25% of USAID’s funding will be awarded to local entities by 2025. Inconsistent definitions of “local” across various USAID initiatives mean it is currently far too complicated to measure funding going either directly or indirectly to local development and humanitarian entities.

Moreover, in that overarching definition of “local entity,” organizations that currently qualify as “Locally-Established Partners” or “LEPs” under the New Partnerships Initiative should not be counted as local entities. Including the LEP category as local would allow organizations that are actually international to access funding specifically geared towards national- and communitybased organizations. It would also allow USAID to count LEP awards towards its localization targets, making the 25% goal easier to reach, but far less transformative. We note that counting sub-grants under contracts or awards as ‘local’ would tend to undermine Administrator Power’s goals in the same way.

The double-impact of service delivery and sustainability that Power highlighted in her Georgetown speech is much more likely to be achieved by working through truly local entities. There is convincing evidence demonstrating that foreign assistance is more likely to be effective, with lasting results and strengthened local systems, when it is driven by local organizations and local priorities. As USAID takes steps to implement this bold vision for inclusive development, the undersigned organizations stress the importance of doing so through the principles of aid effectiveness, accountability, and sustainability


American Jewish World Service

Asylum Access


Catholic Relief Services

Corus International

FHI 360

Global Communities

Helen Keller International

Humanity & Inclusion


Innovations for Poverty Action

IntraHealth International

Islamic Relief USA

Mercy Corps

Nuru International

Oxfam International

PAI PartnersGlobal

PATH Physicians for Peace

Plan International USA

ReSurge International

Save the Children US

The Hunger Project

Women for Women International

Women’s Refugee Commission

Paloma Adams-Allen, Deputy Administrator

Colleen Allen, Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Management

Michele Sumilas, Assistant to the Administrator, PPL

Amb. Don Steinberg, Expert Advisor on LLD

Adam Philipps, Director, Local, Faith and Transformative Partnerships Hub

Ruth Buckley, Acting Director, Office of Management Policy, Budget and Performance

Messages of Endorsement:

“In addition to having a definition of “local entity” shared across the agency, we also invite USAID to co-design a community-led process to develop this definition.” — Asylum Access

“Humanity & Inclusion supports this initiative. In particular, we emphasize the importance of local organizations of people with disabilities, a key group of stakeholders who have traditionally had great difficulty accessing USAID funds directly.” — Humanity & Inclusion

“Clarity of language around both “locally-led” and “community-led” are critical for unleashing the creativity and energy of millions of community change agents.” — The Hunger Project

“To qualify as local, entities should be governed and managed by local or neighboring developing country citizens.” — George Ingram

“PartnersGlobal supports this recommendation — a clear and consistent definition of “local entity” can minimize some of the inherent obstacles to achieving truly locally-led peacebuilding and development.” — PartnersGlobal

“We haven’t gone far enough to ensure that development is locally-led. PATH supports clear definitions in US foreign assistance policy that will help us measure progress toward the transfer of power and resources to truly local, indigenous organizations.” — PATH