Local NGO Leadership is the Foundation for Sustainable Impact

Less than 5% of global development funds support locally led, community-based organizations (CBOs) like Health Builders.

Despite strong evidence that these organizations have the greatest impact in providing services while also implementing systems change, small organizations struggle for funding. Instead, there is a proclivity of major bilateral aid organizations and large foundations to focus their giving on large international non-governmental organizations (I-NGOs).

With the arrival of Samantha Powers as the Administrator of USAID, there is a new focus and energy on moving the needle on this longstanding issue. A presentation in November 2021 followed a powerful chat she had with Kennedy Odede at the World Communities Forum in March of 2021.

It outlined USAID’s plans to substantially change their approach to CBOs to allow direct funding, providing glimmers of hope for change.
In many countries, long-standing health issues require systems change, and local organizations are part of the communities that can help implement such change. Not only are CBOs agile and flexible, but their solutions are community driven and organic. Health Builders’ model is a great example of this, as we work with local people and governments to solve their unique problems.

2020 was a watershed year for local organizations, with the COVID-19 pandemic making evident how these small CBOs could be quick to respond and move resources in response to their communities' needs.

While many I-NGOs left countries with the onset of COVID-19, local organizations went into the communities, where they were already known and trusted, and taught people about COVID prevention.

From the early days of the outbreak, Health Builders staff worked day and night with the Ministry of Health tracing cases and contacts, educating communities, and supporting outbreak response teams in addition to logistics support. Despite the notoriously small budgets of CBOs, they again showed that they can have an immediate and direct impact in not only saving lives but building healthy communities by providing sustainable solutions.However, local CBOs face barriers unlike the large I-NGOs, most importantly in the availability of funding. They often do not have the capacity to hire communications and fundraising staff and are limited in proximity and access to funding networks.

Statistics show that local organization's budgets increase by a small fraction of the growth rate of large I-NGOs. The funding gap is dauntingly massive, but also provides a huge opportunity. Health Builders’ locally led, Rwandan staff show on a daily basis the possibilities of making innovative strides in health care delivery in Rwanda in a highly cost effective way. This impact can be magnified many times as awareness grows about the strength of local organizations and the critical need for support.

We encourage you to learn more about this issue here and consider making a donation to support Health Builders!