Our commitment to localisation

Our commitment to empowering communities and shifting power dynamics in the aid sector  


At HelpAge, our commitment to localisation is unwavering.

We believe in empowering local actors, so that they have the power to influence decisions and prioritise the needs of the communities they serve.  

Our partnerships are built on mutual respect, valuing the expertise of all parties equally and fostering meaningful participation at every level.  

We support locally-led initiatives that champion older people’s rights, providing resources and autonomy to drive change on national and local scales.  


What is localisation? 

Localisation signifies a shift in the aid sector towards empowering local actors to lead humanitarian and development efforts.  

This movement, often referred to as ‘locally-led development’, acknowledges the need to redistribute power, decision-making authority, and resources from global to local entities. It comes in response to global debates around issues like racism, colonialism, and power imbalances within the sector.  

With models of aid and development under scrutiny, there is a growing recognition that sustainable progress can only be achieved when communities themselves are at the forefront of the process. 

HelpAge’s commitment to localisation 

HelpAge is dedicated to promoting locally-led development as a comprehensive strategy to empower communities, especially older people, in leading development endeavours.  

HelpAge emphasises collaborative approaches that elevate the voices and efforts of local stakeholders. This involves focusing policy and operations activities on local leadership. We are also gradually transitioning our country offices to empower local actors to take charge of initiatives and embrace partner-led programming in all settings. 


Why localisation matters to HelpAge 

  1. Our foundational values and history

Since its inception, HelpAge has been dedicated to fostering local leadership and autonomy. This dates back to the 1960s when one of HelpAge’s founders, the UK’s Help The Aged, began supporting financially self-sufficient NGOs. This commitment culminated in the formation of HelpAge International in 1983, which has since grown into a global network of almost 200 members. This historical context underscores HelpAge’s longstanding dedication to empowering local communities and organisations. 

2. Our commitment to inclusion, impact, and partnership in locally-led development: 

Partnership is one of the cornerstones of HelpAge’s values. Through initiatives like partner-led programming and global campaigns, HelpAge has consistently championed inclusion, impact, partnership, and learning. Our 2030 Strategy further solidifies our commitment, emphasising a shift towards national-level change and a vision for working directly with network members and partners to catalyse a movement that prioritises ageing within development agendas. 

3. Our strategic vision for locally-led development and impactful partnerships: 

Central to HelpAge’s mission is the belief that impactful change for older people is best achieved through locally-led initiatives. By empowering diverse local organisations and network members, HelpAge aims to enhance agency, voice, and empowerment among older people. This approach fosters greater accountability, ensures the fulfilment of older people’s human rights, and generates sustainable impact. HelpAge’s role as a supporter, convener, and thought leader underscores its commitment to partnering with and amplifying the voices of local communities, thereby driving meaningful and enduring change for older people worldwide. 


Through advocacy and influencing efforts, we strive to create an environment where older people and local actors can actively engage in policy debates and shape decisions. At HelpAge, we are committed to amplifying these contributions and ensuring they are recognised on a broader scale. 

Navigating Change: HelpAge Tanzania’s Journey to Localisation

1 April 2024 marks the launch of HelpAge Tanzania, an independent and autonomous national organisation working for the rights and wellbeing of older people and people with disabilities in Tanzania.

Smart Daniel, the CEO of this new office, reflects on the process and his hopes and aspirations for his new organisation.

Read his blog here.