International assistance organizations continually evolve, make serious efforts at improving planning, and recently some have jointly endeavored to look beyond the typically short-term horizon of relief operations into what their field might look like in future decades. None of these initiatives, however, have seriously taken up the question of how the northern-based aid community might begin to effect an actual “indigenization” of humanitarian response, devolving it to the level where the countries and regions most often on the receiving end of humanitarian assistance would assume the leading roles for designing and managing it. This article looks at some of the arguments for, and formidable obstacles to, a true devolution in the international humanitarian system.
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