Rethinking Partnerships – Humanitarian Platform hosts Learning Event

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Rethinking Partnerships – Humanitarian Platform hosts Learning Event

Local and National actors need to align their goals, visions, policies and practices to international requirements; Ms. Rose Eyoru, UNHCR

In recent years, “partnership” has become a common term in the literature of International agencies as well as in publications of the United Nations. More so, International agencies have been working on involving local NGOs in every step of project design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. In short, local partners have become an important part of the management cycle of development projects. Emphasis on such partnerships can create opportunities to combine skills, expertise, and resources that more effectively deliver aid and strengthen local organizations’ leadership capacity.

Throughout history, collective and accumulative efforts by communities and organisations have been instrumental in developing and sustaining livelihoods. On 18th July 2018, the Humanitarian Platform for Local and National organizations in Uganda organized a learning event which attracted over 60 participants representing Office of the Prime Minister, UNHCR, International agencies, academia, Local Government and civil society came together to discuss about effective partnerships in the humanitarian sector.

“The issue of service delivery to the communities should go beyond NGOs/INGOs and include Local Government”, Rose Gamwera Ms. ULGA

Among other things discussed during the learning event was the need to understand at the end of the day what the underlying principles of partnerships in humanitarian action and what Local and National organizations need to strengthen in order enhance partnerships. Listening from OPM and UNHCR who constituted the first panel, their focus pointed mutually to the question of capacity among local and national organisations; in terms of transparency and accountability, building trust and integrity, having insulated management systems such as financial tracking, accounting and reporting tools which are essential for partnerships to thrive .

The Senior Legal Officer OPM, Ms. Vivian Oyella urged local and national organisations to be each other’s keepers “one apple spoils a bunch” to create and maintain a good reputation before the international community. It is indubitable that challenges don’t exist in partnerships but how organisations go about situations like these is vital. Organisations like OXFAM, CEFORD, TPO, DRT, CAFOMI and HIJRA and entities like Local Government and Academia shared experiences and challenges they have encountered in various partnerships such as international agencies being project and/or very issue specific and when the project comes to an end then the partnership is over; partnerships with academia have also landed on a hard wall due to differences in interests, it was noted that often times the Academia’s interests are purely academic and scholarly and local organisations end up playing a peripheral role or the academia expecting a payment for the knowledge shared. However they also shared recommendations and lessons learnt from previous mistakes to have effective partnerships.

“Partnerships with national and local actors have always been identified as a source of problems in international humanitarian aid. But, the reality is that the national and local actors don’t play major roles despite the advantage of understanding the context, culture and internal dynamics of disaster-affected communities”Ms. Vivian Oyella, OPM

Most importantly, the learning event provided space for experiential sharing by partners to inspire innovation and new partnership models. The learning also open doors for healthy, strategic and sustainable partnerships within the humanitarian sector. On that note, issues were identified, commitments were made by various stakeholders and timelines set. Some of the commitments made as a way forward included conducting capacity needs assessment and developing measures of enhancing required skills, conduct stakeholder mapping based on the working groups, map out different spaces of humanitarian action –comparative advantage, among others.

Story by Clare Kyasiimire
Focal Person – Humanitarian Platform

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