Call for Papers - Yumi stanap strong: localization of aid and the impact of COVID-19 in Vanuatu

Yumi stanap strong: localization of aid and the impact of COVID-19 in Vanuatu

Submitted by Marie-Claude Savard, Morgane Rosier
For panel Implementing the Grand Bargain on the ground: Lessons and Reflections from the Pacific

Our article analyzes the impact of the global pandemic on localization in Vanuatu. The response to tropical cyclone Harold, which descended upon the country in April 2020 shortly after the country had closed its borders to international travel, reveals that the pandemic accelerated some “localized” practices. However, our research, which is based on in-depth interviews with a variety of local, national and international responders in Vanuatu, suggests that several factors hindered progress towards localization. Namely, we noted that a reductive understanding of the context, divergent definitions of localization and limited state capacity hampered the post-cyclone response by ignoring preexisting power dynamics and marginalizing local actors. Hence, though localized to some degree, support to affected communities was slowed by these factors. Our findings suggest that our current understanding of localization, which stems in the Global North, has limited transformative potential. It requires a revision to account for greater complexity, diversity, and the uniqueness of each country, and recognition of local/national efforts that occur outside international responders’ line of sight. Article co-authored by Morgane Rosier, PhD Candidate, University of Ottawa.