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A decision mapping tool for supporting localisation efforts in aid

There has been an increasing focus on the importance of ‘localisation’ within the aid sector, to the extent that it has been described as the latest buzzword. There are many different ways to define the goals of localisation: from an increase in resources going directly to local organisations, to ‘shifting the power’ through yielding greater autonomy to local actors, to respecting their ‘ways of being’. And then there is the critical issue of ‘who is local?’

Meanwhile, simply allocating more resources to local actors does not necessarily mean that aid interventions are ‘shifting power’ or responding to local priorities. If donors and their international partners retain decision-making authority, then existing power dynamics can be sustained, even when local organisations are directly funded.

Drawing on Maia King’s research on ‘Why does local agency matter?’, our impact team has developed an innovative new Decision Mapping Tool (DMAT) that can help practitioners to pursue the localisation agenda. The DMAT enables practitioners to explore and reflect on who is making key decisions across the programme cycle of a given aid intervention, and how.

The DMAT was piloted in four programming contexts in Kenya and India, to explore how it could be used, and to improve its design. This policy brief outlines the tool, and presents some key insights from the pilots, illustrating how the DMAT can be used to support a process of mapping and reflection on decision-making power within aid interventions.

Impact team

  • Rose Pinnington
  • Madhavi Rajadhyaksha
  • Gilbert Muyumbu


  • ESRC Impact Acceleration Account
  • School of Politics and Economics Impact Fund
  • King's College London


Read our policy brief, The Decision Mapping Tool: Understanding 'local' decision-making in aid interventions, in full here.


Who decides? Introducing the Decision Mapping Tool for supporting locally led approaches. Online.

Watch the recording here.