ICCE TIG Week: Localization: How Do We Do This Well? by Lisa Frantzen

Lisa Frantzen

Hi, I’m Lisa Frantzen, Senior Consultant, Evaluation and Learning at TCC Group. I work with foundations, NGOs, and companies to strengthen their practices to use evaluation with a learning mindset.

Over the last few years, I’ve worked with more and more clients that are asking questions about how they can shift power and leadership of program implementation and evaluation to their internationally-based partners. I’m encouraged by this increased interest in “localization”, but I have also encountered steep challenges within organizations trying to make these changes due to deeply rooted norms within their ways of working. Some of these challenges include:

  • Having established timelines set to meet organizational U.S. Board expectations, but that don’t allow the time needed for meaningful integration of international partners.
  • Stating a desire to have international partners prioritize local needs and project designs but a reluctance to let go of a legacy program that isn’t prioritized by local staff but has ties to U.S. donors.
  • Reluctance to invest in other ways of information sharing (e.g., reports submitted in local languages or in non-written forms).
  • Moving to direct funding of local organizations but requiring overly rigorous evaluation reporting.

And, of course, there are many more challenges as well! However, I try to meet these challenges with a problem-solving mindset rather than with overwhelming feelings of despair and there are several examples from which I draw inspiration which I’ll share here.

Rad Resources

Source: Baguios, A., King, M., Martins, A. and Pinnington, R. (2021) Are we there yet? Localisation as the journey towards locally led practice: models, approaches and challenges. ODI Report. London: ODI.

Lessons Learned

As I learned years ago as a Peace Corps volunteer, regardless of where we’ve come from or where we’re going next, we have a lot to learn from each other when we listen and engage in the moment. In this blogpost, Building Evaluation Capacity Across International Offices, I share a process that I used working with Hand in Hand International to set up cross-country coaching while developing country-specific evaluation frameworks. I hope it may be of use to you.

Do you have other lessons that you’ve learned about localization? Or other sources of inspiration? I’d love to hear about them!

The American Evaluation Association is hosting International and Cross-Cultural (ICCE) TIG Week with our colleagues in the International and Cross-Cultural Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from our ICCE TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this AEA365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the AEA365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an AEA365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to AEA365@eval.org. AEA365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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