More Than 80 Major Local Aid Organizations in Nepal Left Out of Direct Funding

In the Flash Appeal for the Nepal Earthquake, 78 organizations have requested $422 million to lead the disaster response. Only 0.8% of funds are directed to organizations based in Nepal. Though this group funding effort is led by the United Nations, the process does not reflect a truly international approach. Local organizations are being used primarily as subcontractors instead of receiving funding directly.

Local organizations are essential to the earthquake response. In some cases, the foreign organizations who applied for funding have only a few employees on the ground. Foreigners will direct the projects and programs. Local organizations are listed as “implementing partners.”

Within the Flash Appeal, 83 leading Nepali groups are identified as “partners.” I was curious if there were some reason these organizations weren’t given the opportunity to apply for prime funding themselves: Were they inexperienced? Uninformed? Less professional? Collectively, they have more than 1,000 years experience in Nepal.

Jump to the List of Nepali Organizations


I researched each Nepali organization mentioned in the Flash Appeal and was shocked by the depth of their experience and expertise. Most of these organizations have deep roots in their community but simply haven’t been in the business of raising funds from governments. Local groups may have trouble applying for a number of reasons: 1) they don’t know about the opportunity, 2) the deadline to apply is within days of the disaster, and 3) the application requires fluent, technical English-language skills.

The organization featured in the image at the top of this post is Shakti Samuha. They are an advocacy and education group that was started by former victims of human trafficking and their focus is on women and girls. Immediately after the earthquake, I saw them operating distributions in the hills of Sindhupalchouk, the most heavily impacted district, bringing rice and food to their constituents.

But as a result of being busy on the ground, they weren’t in meetings in the capital, Kathmandu. In the Flash Appeal, Shakti Samuha is listed as the implementing partner for Planete Enfantes, a French NGO, with whom they have had a relationship for several years.


Because international groups are funded first, individual donations to the Nepal earthquake relief won’t have the same impact. Aid is more expensive because donors will end up paying the administrative costs of both the prime contractor (international non-profit) and sub-contractors (local non-profits). Many projects in the Flash Appeal list four or more sub-contractors.

It isn’t only local groups who are left out of the consolidated funding process. Small international organizations are also used as subcontractors in most disasters. I asked a number of smaller NGOs why they didn’t apply to this funding opportunity. Some told me they had never heard of it. Other groups told me that they believe the process is “political” or “rigged” and wasn’t worth the bother.

By funding only large international organizations instead of local or small organizations, we rob those smaller groups of the opportunity to expand their capacity and managerial skills. We also make it more unlikely that the response will take a truly local approach to aid and recovery. Small groups that operate outside the bureaucracy are often young or new organizations using innovative methods to deliver aid. They deserve to be included.

Jump to the List of Nepali Organizations


The problem needs to be addressed by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), which leads the application process.

1. Advertise the opportunity to local organizations immediately after a disaster. In some cases, it may be helpful to educate them before a disaster hits.

2. Volunteers can offer to apply on behalf of local organizations. (In Nepal, IOM offered to apply for local organizations in the Camp Management category, where there is always a deficit of local and international support. It seems no one took them up on the offer.)

3. Make the online process easier and more readily available to people in their language.

4. Require organizations to identify the country where they are based when they apply.

5. Donate to local organizations instead of international ones.

List of Nepali Organizations Being Hired as “Implementing Partners”



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  1. Alison

    Thanks for your meticulous documenting and reporting on the issue of local organizations and aid funding after disasters. I work at GlobalGiving (the crowdfunding community for nonprofits), and we, too, believe it’s so important for local organizations to quickly and safely access disaster funding.

    I agree that a major issue is making sure local organizations are informed and networked *before* disasters strike. We vet and support thousands of local organizations in 160 countries. We had more than 60 partners in Nepal prior to the earthquake, so immediately after the disaster, we were able to raise funding on our own and disburse it directly to those vetted local partners who were responding in their communities but weren’t in a position to fill out lengthy applications or deal with banking logistics during the aftershocks. But the only way this was possible was because we were in active partnership before a disaster; our vetting and disbursement work was up-to-date, and we were able to get in contact with nonprofit leaders to find out exactly what their needs were within hours and days of the initial quake.

    We’re learning a lot about how to improve our disaster response after each disaster, and I’d love to hear more about any suggestions for you have about how we can reach more “small groups that operate outside the bureaucracy are often young or new organizations using innovative methods to deliver aid.” Ideally, before disasters. We hear you on making the online process easier and more readily available to people in their language. (For Flash Appeals as well as our own platform.) That’s one of our major hurdles at the moment, (not knowing where the next disaster will strike, it’s difficult to plan for local language access at scale).

  2. Emily Troutman

    Hi Alison, Thanks so much. I think for countries that are in the path of frequent disasters it would make sense to pre-register organizations for the Flash Appeal or other funding opportunities that are destined to come up. For example, in Nepal many of the organizations listed here were known entities because they were part of major international development initiatives. They were already working with UNDP or FAO or UNICEF on long-term projects. After the quake, they became the best “partners” because they had deep roots in the community.

    One thing your organization could do — though admittedly, it’s tedious work — is look through the Flash Appeals for other countries where disasters happen a lot. Like Haiti, for example. Or India / Pakistan / Phillipines. Look for the area in the project proposals where international organizations list “implementing partners.” Then you could reach out to those groups directly. You could also do a Google search like this: “nepal” “implementing-partner” Most big organizations do list their local implementing partners in their annual reports or somewhere on their websites.

    For younger, newer organizations, it can be more difficult. It would be cool if someone would compile a list of grant/funding opportunities for NGO’s that are just getting started, then make a list of all the winners or fund-ees. I know a lot of family foundations fund new organizations this way. Maybe I’ll do it!! 🙂

  3. Alison

    Thanks, Emily, that’s really helpful and offers a new way for us to think about reaching local organizations that are best-equipped to respond after disasters. Many of those you’ve listed above aren’t on our radar. It also makes me wonder how else we can be supporting and connecting the orgs we do know (that maybe aren’t on your list) to help them access more major funding (like through the Flash Appeal) if they have needs beyond what we raise. Thanks again!

  4. Tensai Asfaw

    Hi Emily and Alison,

    I work with OCHA, and we are currently doing some thinking about how to make sure local actors get better direct access to funding. Just to explain in the briefest of terms, we help pull together international appeals, but actually don’t decide how all the money gets from a donor to an implementing partner. But if you’d like to be part of the discussion and share some of your ideas on what might work best – would love to hear your views, both from GlobalGiving and how you choose your partners, and from Emily on how we can ensure swifter access to local actors following major emergencies.

  5. nabraj lama

    Thanks for your good job and help to nepali community also i would like to request we are working with poorest, landless and vulnerable children s of Terai of NEPAL so we are interested to work with you if you have given the opportunity. i hope you will be support to access less children of Terai.

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