Local Works

USAID is committed to helping its partner countries achieve self-reliance and ensuring that U.S. taxpayer investments produce sustainable, long-term development outcomes. Local ownership of the development process is key to achieving these objectives.

USAID’s Local Works is a unique program designed to advance locally-owned development and enhance the Agency’s ability to empower local actors to take the lead in identifying and addressing development challenges.

To make development programs more locally-owned and sustainable, Local Works provides USAID missions with resources, tools, and opportunities to try new development approaches that are more flexible, locally responsive, and sustainable. Five-year discretionary funds available through Local Works provide missions more time and greater freedom to pursue locally-led programming and innovative operational approaches. Learning how to more effectively support local ownership and self-reliance contributes toward USAID’s vision of ending the need for foreign assistance.

Learning Priorities

Drawing on the past two rounds of Local Works, global research, and experience from across the Agency, USAID has identified several key challenges and opportunities to supporting locally-owned development. Local Works aims to contribute to Agency learning and strengthen practice in the following areas:

Acquisition and assistance, including new paths to partnership that support local ownership, such as co-design workshops, donor exit strategies, piloting innovative approaches and experimenting with new funding approaches that empower local partners to lead the development process.

Feedback mechanisms, which enable information to flow between local constituents, development partners, and USAID to improve engagement and program effectiveness, return on investment and sustainability, and accountability to local stakeholders and US taxpayers.

Systems- and networks-based analytical approaches, allowing USAID and its partners to better understand the complex environments in which they operate, the role each plays (or should play) in those systems, and ultimately the development challenge at hand and how that can be overcome through local systems and by local actors.

Participatory decision-making, including priority-setting, collaborative design, and other means of devolving control from USAID to local development actors, and ensuring inclusive local leadership.

Mobilizing local resources, including community philanthropy; partnerships that leverage resources from local private sector, faith-based organizations, government, civil society, and academia; and other sources of local skills and finances to replace those of international donors.

Strengthening local networks, including expanding the capacity of local organizations that support networks of other local organizations and cooperatives, market facilitation, and other demand-driven approaches to connecting local needs with local resources.

Flexibility in USAID mission operations, including approaches that emphasize experimentation and innovation in overcoming internal constraints while providing critical learning opportunities to build USAID and local partner capacities.

Supporting strategic transitions, including strengthening the abilities of local institutions and actors to sustain outcomes, mobilize resources, and address challenges, with an eye toward ending the need for foreign assistance.




*In Section 7080 of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (P.L. 113-235), localworks replaces the Development Grants Program and is referred to as the Small Grants Program.

Last updated: June 28, 2018

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