human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Localisation in practice

the Caritas response to floods in Kerala

As a response to the disastrous floods in the Indian state of Kerala in August 2018, Caritas India and Caritas Austria joined forces to be able to react fast and in a more efficient and effective way. The project “Humanitarian assistance to excluded and vulnerable populations affected by floods and landslides in Kerala” is funded by the European Commission (Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations – DG ECHO). It involves a consortium with a few other NGOs, which allows for a clear and agreed sharing of tasks.

The direct involvement of Caritas India as a local grassroots organisation and first-line responder has been keen and essential. Caritas’ presence in the affected community is a unique added value and it shows how important it is to invest in local partners and, ultimately, to pursue the so-called “localisation agenda”.

As stated in the Caritas localisation paper, local partners should be able to access directly a fair share of humanitarian funding and, at the same time, be the recipient of capacity building actions. They need to be at the centre of the processes where information flows and decisions are taken.

The response in Kerala can be considered as one good example of this.

In only four months, the programme targeted more than 3,700 households with unconditional cash transfers schemes, allowing the affected population to increase its purchasing power and thereby to meet essential needs. Additionally, more than 3,900 households received non-food items and hygiene kits to improve their sanitary situation. Other ongoing activities include the cleaning and chlorination of 140 wells, the repair of 310 partially damaged toilets and the provision of water storage tanks and water supply in 31 communities.

DG ECHO representatives visited the programme during a monitoring field mission in January 2019. On that occasion, DG ECHO expressed satisfaction with the good targeting and the progress made so far. Because of this visit, Caritas Austria and other NGOs in the consortium published a statement with key messages for Kerala:

  • increasing income disparity calls for a greater effort to redefine vulnerability and ensure inclusion of affected populations with a view to “leave no one behind”;
  • climate change calls for immediate and lasting solutions to reduce disaster risk;
  • due to decade-long problems in the field of water and sanitation, urgent action is necessary to provide adequate access to safe water and sanitation in the region;
  • localisation is an added value as it allows the comprehensive coverage of the services at community level.

The full statement is available for download below. You can also read more about this project on the websites of Caritas India and Caritas Austria (in German).


joint statement


Download full joint statement