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the case for strengthening national and
local partnership-based humanitarian responses

This report was commissioned by a consortium

of UK-based international non-governmental
organisations: ActionAid, CAFOD, Christian Aid,
Oxfam GB and Tearfund.

The research project was managed by Alexander

Carnwath of Christian Aid, supported by an advisory group
comprising Rosie Oglesby and Sonya Ruparel of ActionAid,
Anne Street of CAFOD, Nigel Timmins of Oxfam GB,
Oenone Chadburn of Tearfund.

The report was written by Ben Ramalingam, Bill Gray

and Giorgia Cerruti.

Many thanks to the staff and partners of the five agencies

who invested their valuable time in the research process.

Front cover photo:

Christian Aid partner CCSMKE supported the
community in Parkinshon village, Marsabit
district, during the 2010 Kenyan food crisis.
They focused on raising levels of nutrition,
distributing animal feed, providing water and
monitoring the health of the most vulnerable

Christian Aid/Branwen Niclas


Executive summary 4

Introduction 6

Focus and methodology 8

Findings 10

Can partnerships realise their potential? 24

Conclusions and recommendations 26

6 Missed Opportunities Chapter heading

Executive summary

Partnerships with national and local actors A number of the INGO organisations have
have long been identified as a source of used partnerships partly or exclusively
problems in international humanitarian aid. as the means by which they respond to new
Major evaluations of numerous high profile and emerging humanitarian crises. Some of
humanitarian crises most notably that of the partnerships looked at for this research
the Indian Ocean tsunami have identified date back several decades. However, the
insufficient investment in, and commitment approach taken to partnerships in the
to, such partnerships as the biggest majority of humanitarian responses tends
hinderance to effective performance. The to be reactive, driven by emergency, and
reality is that efforts to work with national shaped by ad-hoc interactions that take
and local actors do not play a central role in place at the point of crisis. The sector is not
the majority of international humanitarian yet systematic about partnerships: how they
work. This amounts to a longstanding are thought about, designed, implemented
systemic issue for the sector as a whole, or assessed.
which has persisted despite the efforts
made by individual agencies to invest time Despite this, and the well-known
and effort in this area. constraints faced in many response
settings, the research found a significant
This study is the first output of a research number of benefits that stem from working
project commissioned by five UK-based through such collaborative mechanisms.
international humanitarian
non-governmental organisations (INGOs) Such partnerships were identified as
ActionAid, Cafod, Christian Aid, Oxfam helping to:
GB and Tearfund. The main purpose of the enhance the relevance and
project was to look at the current and future appropriateness of humanitarian
potential of partnerships with national responses. National and local actors
non-governmental organisations (NNGOs) understanding of context and internal
in humanitarian response, based on dynamics allow them to shape
lessons from across the commissioning programmes accordingly.
agencies in four major emergency settings. enhance the effectiveness of assistance,
The project is part of an ongoing effort to by ensuring accountability to
build the future of humanitarian assistance, disaster-affected populations.
which has already seen publications in smooth the transition between the
2011 from Christian Aid and Oxfam GB. different elements of the disaster cycle.
The research process involved interviews Unlike the international system where
with INGO and NNGO staff, workshops and tasks such as resilience, response
meetings with INGO representatives, and a and recovery might be undertaken by
review of relevant documentation. different teams and organisations, local
Missed opportunities Executive summary 5

NGOs (LNGO) and NNGOs typically work in central part of humanitarian policy and
all of these spaces. This enables them to practice. These relate to the incentives
enhance connectedness and ensure that in organisations, the capacity and
responses take place in ways that respect willingness of INGOs and NNGOs to work
longer-term perspectives. in partnerships, and broader system-wide
issues around funding, visibility and norms.
On other issues, however, the picture That said, there does seem to be scope
is more mixed: for greater efforts in working through
Partnerships take time and resources partnerships with local and national
to set up and manage, and require actors. Given the anticipated rise in the
a complex engagement which is not number and complexity or emergencies,
amenable to simplistic measurements of it is becoming clear that the formal
efficiency and value for money. international system cannot be expected
The majority of partners are relatively to respond in all settings, all the time.
localised, and have small-scale Strengthening partnership approaches
operations, meaning that issues of should be seen as key to fulfilling the
coverage were not straightforward humanitarian imperative, both now and in
except in those few cases where the the uncertain future.
national partner happened to be a large-
scale NNGO. The study concludes that there are
four areas where the commissioning
Both the pros and cons need to be put in organisations might consider further
context. There is a general lack of financing investment. These are:
for partnerships and capacity both before Investing in change
and after major crises, despite the efforts Setting the agenda
of some partnership-based agencies to Building knowledge and shared
address this. Many of the benefits that have understanding
been realised to date have been achieved Strengthening practices.
with minimal investments, and little in the
way of official donor support outside of There are a number of process implications
emergency contexts. This clearly suggests for humanitarian agencies working in
that, across the board, the potential partnerships. These will be explored more
benefits of partnerships in response have fully in a second report.
not been maximised.

Of course, there are a number of wider

factors that alternately support and
prevent partnerships being a more

The diversity of the Recent studies point out the current it is evident across much of the
and potential benefits of partnership international humanitarian aid
humanitarian community
with southern actors.3 However, little system.
is an asset if we build has been translated into the formal
on our comparative humanitarian policies that shape the This may be because partnership-
advantages and system. One recent exception at the working demands transformative
global level is the Department for changes in the way things are done
complement each others
International Development (DFID) which pose threats to the status quo
contributions. Local 2011 Humanitarian Emergency of the sector, in terms of resource
capacity is one of the main Response Review (HERR) led by distribution, power and control. It is
assets to enhance and on Lord Paddy Ashdown into the UK interesting to note that many of the
which to build. Whenever governments humanitarian aid most successful change efforts in the
efforts, which espoused the principle sector have been characterised by
possible, humanitarian of southern capacity building incremental changes: tinkering with
organisations should for humanitarian preparedness, the existing system, and a focus on
strive to make it an response and recovery. The report business, more-or-less, as usual. To
integral part in emergency clearly presented the view that take a prominent example, much has
working through southern partners been made of the potential of mobile
helps to improve response, coverage technology to transform humanitarian
and build resilience. However, in aid, especially in the context of
Principles of Partnership,
Global Humanitarian Platform 20071 many instances, global humanitarian empowering disaster-affected
policies make little or no explicit communities. However, the majority
mention of southern partnerships. of investment in this area has sought
There has been a great deal of Typically the term is used to refer to to improve international agencies
debate, and rhetoric, in recent years relationships between members of use of such technologies within their
on issues of southern capacity and the international community, rather organisation, to improve efficiencies
the development of north-south than between those members and rather than to fundamentally
humanitarian partnerships. Much national and local actors. transform the relationships with
of this stemmed from the massive disaster-affected people.
response to the 2004 Indian Ocean This is an interesting gap given
Tsunami, and the Tsunami Evaluation the apparent desire for change in This paper builds on existing research
Coalitions Synthesis report (July 2006) the sector in general. There are, and collates the practical experience
which called for a fundamental for example, increasing efforts in of partnership in humanitarian
reorientation in practice a change innovation, leadership and resilience, crises gleaned from over 65 face-to-
in the organisational culture of with commensurate increases in the face and telephone interviews with
humanitarian aid providers that funding available for such work. INGO practitioners from five major
agencies cede power to the affected agencies: ActionAid, Cafod, Christian
population and that agencies meet The role of local partners in providing Aid, Cafod, Oxfam GB and Tearfund
this problem by promoting distributed aid in humanitarian crises is a major and staff from partner organisations.
ownership, with the community and systemic issue for the sector. It does The research focused on these
different levels of [national] government not affect all humanitarian agencies agencies engagement with national
owning different levels of the equally; some are organised with and local NGO partners in four
response...2 the aim of maximising the potential significant emergency settings. These
of local and national actors, but were the crisis in Kivu, Democratic
Missed opportunities Introduction 7

Republic of the Congo (DRC); the The rest of the report is structured
Haiti earthquake; the Horn of Africa in three parts: the focus and
food crisis in Kenya, and the Pakistan methodology of the research
floods of 2010. process; the findings (under the
broad categories of Relevance/
The overwhelming conclusion from Appropriateness, Effectiveness,
this work is that the international Efficiency, Coverage, Connectedness);
humanitarian community is and a Strengths, Weaknesses,
missing significant opportunities to Opportunities, Threats (SWOT)
strengthen its performance. This is summary analysis of what
especially the case given the current partnerships might bring in the
interest in resilience as a means of future. The report concludes with
militating against crises. The paper key points about the relevance of this
presents the case for greater policy- work in the humanitarian sector and
level and operational engagement presents recommendations to be
with issues of southern capacities and taken forward.
partnerships for humanitarian work,
focusing on disaster response. It also
presents some of the challenges of
such engagement and how these
might be overcome.

The Global Humanitarian Platform (GHP) is a forum of humanitarian organisations that aims to support collaboration between actors to increase
the effectiveness of humanitarian aid. For more information, see
Building the future of humanitarian aid: local capacity and partnerships in emergency assistance, 2012, Christian Aid; Crises in a New World Order.
Challenging the humanitarian project, 2012, Oxfam; NGOs and Humanitarian Reform Project Phases 1 and 2, 2008-present, ICVA.
Focus and methodology

Focus of the report Methodology The team sought to speak to people

with experience of partnerships in
The study synthesises the The research study employed a response, or who had leadership
partnership experiences of five major number of standard research and positions that were influential in
international humanitarian agencies evaluative methods, as follows: shaping such efforts.
in four distinct emergency contexts. Iterative enquiry: the team, the
The agencies are, in alphabetical Document review: the study study and, critically, the steering group
order: ActionAid, Cafod, Christian undertook an extensive review of of the study took a flexible and iterative
Aid, Oxfam GB and Tearfund. The the literature, including internal approach, in which the envisaged
four emergency contexts were: documents. outputs changed in focus and scope
Democratic Republic of Congo over the duration of the study, as did
Key informant interviews: over
(DRC) conflict 2009-2012, Haiti the timeline. During
65 staff across the five agencies
earthquake 2010, Kenya food crisis the period of the study, the focus
and partner organisations were
2010 and Pakistan floods 2010. These for the report broadened from
interviewed over the course of six
were selected through extensive gathering lessons about partnerships
months. Interviews, spread across the
discussions with representatives to identifying key advocacy
five INGOs, included senior leadership,
of the five organisations. The focus messages for use in influencing
national office and technical staff, with
on large-scale emergencies was the partnership agenda.
the bulk undertaken by telephone.
deliberate, as it was widely felt that
these were the settings in which
partnerships were most challenging, The framework of hypotheses used for the research process
in concept and in practice. This and interviews
rationale led to a focus on emergency
response efforts, although issues Inputs Activities Intermediate Outcomes Impacts
of resilience and recovery were also outcomes
addressed in the analysis. - Partnerships - Partnership - Partnerships - Partnerships
bring together development - Partnerships catalyse can contribute
relevant actors in involves well- lead to raised response and to improved
The case studies were based on a timely manner. understood and awareness of recovery. humanitarian
clear processes possibilities results (OECD-
a consultative process, in which - Partnerships and instruments. for enhanced - Partnerships DAC criteria).
are focused
the organisational representatives on specific, - Partnerships
humanitarian make a
efforts. contribution - There is scope
identified a number of staff members high priority require the to improved to get better
and partner representatives, across humanitarian right people and - Partnerships development assessments of
issues before, institutions, at strengthen decisions and value for money/
the four emergency contexts, and during and after the right level, level of cross- actions. cost-benefit
shared contacts with the research crises. to be connected organisational analysis.
in appropriate consensus, - Partnerships
team, or in some instances helped set - Partnerships ways. teamwork,
require a blend enhance
up the interviews. The research team of resources - Partnerships
coalitions and community
networks. relations.
then proceeded to investigate these human, financial, benefit from
technological. strong pre- - Partnerships
case studies for specific and general
existing contribute to new
lessons, using a number of common - Partnerships relationships. and improved
require effective capacities,
hypotheses gleaned from a review of preparedness knowledge and
documentation and the literature. on the part of all skills for better
parties. humanitarian
Missed opportunities Focus and methodology 9

Material was collected across all five efforts in different settings. This a qualitative summary assessment
areas of the hypotheses, however framework is increasingly used in of the findings from the team. It is set
this report focuses primarily on the evaluations and major studies of against the teams assessment of how
impacts of partnerships, drawing on humanitarian aid effectiveness, the sector is performing in this area
the other areas where relevant. (The most notably in the Active Learning overall, which is based on analysis
findings from the other areas will be Network for Accountability and of the landmark 2012 ALNAP SOHS
the focus of a subsequent report.) Performance4 (ALNAP) State of the report.
Humanitarian System (SOHS) reports.
Findings are organised according This process was shared with
to the Organisation for Economic The core of the report provides a the ALNAP secretariat, and was
Co-operation and Development synthesis of lessons from across endorsed as a sensible approach.
(OECD) and Development Assistance these five areas. Each sub-section Indeed, ALNAP is planning to
Committee (DAC) criteria for concludes with an assessment of undertake a similar scoring in the
evaluating humanitarian assistance, the potential of partnerships to next SOHS report. The summary
and relate to how partnerships in the address each area of performance. scores themselves are based on the
different settings contribute to the These are based on combining the independent analysis and conclusions
relevance/appropriateness, research teams assessments of the of the research team.
effectiveness, efficiency, coverage partnership work in each emergency
and connectedness of response response setting. This is intended as

Five OECD-DAC criteria for evaluating humanitarian aid

used in this report

Relevance/Appropriateness Coverage
How well humanitarian activities The extent to which assistance
are tailored to local needs. reaches all major population
groups affected by the crisis.
How well an activity has achieved Connectedness
its purpose, or can be expected The extent to which short-term
to do so on the basis of existing emergency response steps take
outputs. longer-term and interconnected
problems into account.
A measure of the outputs,
qualitative and quantitative,
achieved as a result of inputs. Source: ALNAP

ALNAP is a unique, sector-wide network that supports the humanitarian sector to improve humanitarian performance through learning, peer-to-
peer sharing and research.

This chapter sets out the research Assessing the research findings These issues were reiterated by
findings for the contribution of in this way allows a comparison the organisations participating in
the partnerships looked at in the between the overall performance the research. For example, there
study to improve humanitarian aid of the sector and the potential of was widespread acknowledgement
effectiveness. It analyses these partnerships to improve how the that, in many settings, international
findings using five of the OECD-DAC sector currently performs. This is operational staff members are
criteria for assessing humanitarian presented, in visual form, in the unfamiliar with the specific country
aid: Relevance/Appropriateness, diagram at the end of the chapter. context and culture:
Effectiveness, Efficiency, Coverage
and Connectedness (see page 9). 1. Do partnerships Many INGOs are based in [capital
cities] and send people to do work
enhance the relevance and
Each sub-section starts with [where crises hit]. They dont know
an assessment of the current
appropriateness of aid? the language, the culture, and
performance of the humanitarian cannot easily become acceptable
Relevance and appropriateness are
sector as a whole for each of the to the people because of the lack of
central to aid effectiveness. Research
criteria. This is is provided in blue understanding. As a result, they end
findings and beneficiary surveys
text. Performance is rated as strong, up targeting the wrong community
frequently find that aid is not always
good, moderate, poor or weak
relevant to the needs and aspirations
where strong is the highest rating Many interviewees emphasised
of affected populations. The reasons
and weak is the lowest. These scores that partnerships can enhance the
given include:
are based on the research teams relevance and appropriateness
independent analysis and assessment of a response by addressing the
weak understanding of
of the key findings and summaries in persistent shortcomings mentioned
local contexts
the ALNAP SOHS report 2012, which above. In the best examples looked at,
inability to engage with the
uses the same OECD-DAC criteria to the information and knowledge held
changing nature of need
analyse system-wide humanitarian by local partners is successfully used
poor information gathering
performance. The main text of each to improve the design and delivery
sub-section describes how, if at all, of aid responses. This can help both
inflexibility of response.
partnerships were found to have with the process for example,
contributed to a given criteria of designing effective and culturally
Analysis of the ALNAP SOHS
performance. appropriate needs assessments
suggests that overall sector
and the outputs of aid for example,
performance in this area is
The potential of a partnership- food assistance efforts that respond
moderate. This is based on the fact
based approach to improve aid to specific contexts. Numerous
that although the sector has seen
performance is then included at the examples were given across the five
modest improvements in relevance/
end of each sub-section also in study organisations of how local and
appropriateness there was a
blue text using the same rating national partners were able to find
persistent weakness in consultation
system as above. their own solution to the problems we
[of communities].
collectively faced (see box opposite).
Missed opportunities Findings 11

Christian Aid/M Gonzalez-Noda

In the Haiti emergency, Christian Aid partner APROSIFA recruited street food vendors such as Figaro Alourdes (left) to be food distributors.
She provided free, hot meals to 80 vulnerable people each day and was able to sell what she had left over for a small profit.

Making food assistance more relevant in Kenya and Haiti

At the onset of the drought crisis in north Kenya in The programme identified networks of cooks who
early 2010, Kitui was designated a red alert district by could cook for designated groups of families, and be
central government. It was assumed that the failure paid for it. There was a means for direct feedback
to plant grain was due to the drought, but in fact a fear from the families to the service providers about quality
of an aflotoxin contamination had prompted farmers and quantity. This provided sustenance to more than
to retain stocks longer than usual for domestic food 1,000 families, and was done in a way that was locally
consumption. This delayed the alert period until acceptable, supported small businesses, and was
July 2010. Discovering this issue through sustained accountable.
engagement between Caritas Kitui and farmer groups
allowed Cafod a lead-in period of three to four months Tearfund in Pakistan found that working with good local
for the purchase of appropriate relief supplies for partners helped address some of the inherent biases
distribution through the partner entity. and accepted wisdoms of an international response.
This included, for example, widening engagement with
In the Haiti emergency, Christian Aid partner stakeholders, so as to reach the very poorest and most
APROSIFA started a programme of work based on their affected by the crisis. When Tearfund launched their
understanding of the limitations of space for cooking, own operational response to the Pakistan floods, it was
and the dangers of many small fires in close proximity achieved through close working with, and the support
to each other and to plastic sheeting. of, existing partner organisations.
12 Missed opportunities Findings

One INGO operational managers governments, for example, some their commitment to humanitarian
eyes were opened by their experience national NGOs may be perceived to principles. For this reason, this area
in Pakistan: Id always worked with be more aligned with global powers was scored as strong.
direct delivery [NGOs], and so the first than with affected communities.
partner-led response I worked on was National NGOs may also be 2. Do partnerships enhance
a remarkable change. It was so clear aligned with military powers in a the effectiveness of aid?
what the value was the partners particular context. INGOs frequently
helped us have better analyses of the express discomfort about how well The most common questions posed in
context on the ground... national partners are able to fulfil the literature on effectiveness of aid
the humanitarian principles of are:
In addition to relevance in the context independence and neutrality. And
of specific aid programmes, there beneficiaries in a crisis, especially whether aid is responsive,
was also a widely-made point about conflict, will inevitably make their own prepared, fast and flexible
the political and societal relevance judgements as to whose side a local whether it is well coordinated
of partnership-based responses. or international NGO represents. whether it includes mechanisms
The humanitarian sectorwill need to to learn from experience
be sensitive to the consequences of Key messages whether human resources are
shifting attitudes towards, or negative 1. Conventional aid delivery adequate.
perceptions of, international aid approaches are often criticised
delivery. These may include: for their lack of relevance and Analysis of the ALNAP SOHS
appropriateness, and the evidence suggests that overall sector
national governments choosing to shows that well-designed performance in this area is
reduce international involvement in partnerships can militate against moderate. Objectives are seen as
aid operations on their territory these issues. largely met, but there are serious
concerns about the lack of issues around leadership and
independence of INGOs as agents of 2. Partnerships can do this by timeliness which were seen as
donor governments or their military ensuring programme design that is lacking in the sector overall. The
objectives. contextually appropriate, culturally report notes that Each major
sensitive, responsive to needs, emergency during the reporting
In many cases, working with local and based on communities own period had a mixed review in terms of
partnerships is emerging as a more understanding. effectiveness.
acceptable face of humanitarian
action. This is especially so in settings Potential of partnerships to enhance
A common view from across the
where access is limited (for example, performance
case studies was that partnerships
in Myanmar following Cyclone Across the agencies in the four
can, and do, help to strengthen
Nargis) or where the security context emergency settings, relevance/
responsiveness and speed, especially
is too challenging for an extensive appropriateness was the criterion
in relation to preparedness and in the
international presence (for example, most strongly identified by
immediate aftermath of a crisis.
Somalia). respondents as a beneficial outcome
No matter how large and well-
of partnerships in response efforts.
resourced an INGO, it cannot be
Of course, the local equals This was also the area where there
everywhere all the time. Issues of
accceptable principle does not were fewest ambiguities, apart
timeliness were highlighted by almost
hold true in all settings. From the from the obvious one that potential
all participants.
perspective of affected country partners do need to be screened for
Missed opportunities Findings 13

It is clear that local presence can

enable partners to be the true first Helping communities meet their priorities in DRC and Kenya
responders, getting to affected In eastern DRC, much INGO The product of these measures
people in, some cases, days or weeks and donor policy is focused on has been a substantial reduction
before the international community breaking the cycle of violence. in attacks on the community,
arrives. This was apparent in Haiti Work with local partners has far fewer casualties and far less
and Pakistan in particular, where allowed INGOs to focus more displacement (and, by implication,
Christian Aid partners were able to attention on how communities greater economic stability albeit
set up food assistance several days cope, and how they can be at a very low level).
ahead of the formal humanitarian supported to find their own
system. As well as initial response durable solutions. In Kenya, Oxfam GB works
activities, local partners play a with two partners, WASDA and
vital role in gathering contextual Katana commune bordering the ALDEF, that have a long history
information, assessing damage and Kahuzi Biega National Park in of engagement with particular
needs all of which contribute to south Kivu, DRC, is under communities. This long and
greater responsiveness and constant threat of displacement sustained engagement means that
therefore effectiveness. due to the activities of diverse they are optimally positioned to
armed groups. In response to this facilitate a more equitable access
Responsiveness was largely framed threat, the community, supported to limited aid resources. Inherent
in terms of engagement with by Caritas Bukavu, developed their to all of these were efforts to
disaster-affected communities. own risk-reducing measures. build trust between Oxfam GB
The need to build responses on These include: and implementing partners, and
community understanding of their The distribution of tools to raise between implementing partners
own path out of crisis was evident in the alert of an imminent attack. and communities. In both cases
the research. This is essential not just A n informal alliance forged with this involved partnerships that
as a means to ensure accountability, the staff of the park (many of spanned decades of interactions
but also to ensure that aid is matched whom are from a different with Oxfam GB.
to the priorities on the ground rather ethnic group) to warn of
than those perceived by international imminent insurgent activity.
aid actors (see box adjacent). Starting a dialogue with the local
Forces armes de la Rpublique
The majority of respondents felt that dmocratique du Congo
the introduction of accountability commander to ensure the early
standards to the work of funding movement of troops into the
both agencies and local partners has area, to reduce the likelihood
improved programming; empowered of attack.
communities to lobby for their rights;
and increased transparency at the
local and higher levels between
partners. This was typically related
to the perceived legitimacy of
implementing partners in the eyes of
communities and other national and
local actors.
14 Missed opportunities Findings

The Building accountability through

Monika Vrsanska/CAFOD
partnerships box, opposite, gives
some examples of all of these.
However, accountability standards are
not always beneficial for the partners
in question. In DRC, for example, some
church partners felt that externally
imposed accountability processes
impinged upon their existing traditional
authority systems. In other contexts,
governments also expressed a degree
of hesitancy about INGO accountability
frameworks. More common than
either of these responses was the
feeling from partner organisations
themselves, that new results
frameworks were being imposed
on them by INGOs without adequate
support or investment.

With CAFOD support, the Association of Womens Awareness and Rural Development is As well as potentially enhancing
helping train women affected by the 2010 Pakistan floods to make a living again through quality, partnerships can directly lead
rearing goats. The project also promotes education, healthcare and womens rights. to new practices and policies and can
open up the space for new kinds of
In the most effective cases, this both meaningful and respectful to operational approaches.
is not just left to chance. Many affected communities.
partnerships were explicitly built on That said, it was widely felt by
the notion of strengthening the use Three broad mechanisms were respondents that partners in general
of common standards and tools such apparent across the partner tend to tick fewer technical quality
as the Humanitarian Accountability responses: boxes in responses than international
Partnership (HAP) Standard5 and Enhanced beneficiary consultation. direct delivery. To some extent this is
Sphere.6 It was found that some A ppropriate assistance prompted, because partnerships are limited by
partners are actually more fully in particular, by a better resource constraints; existing levels
engaged in such standards and tools understanding at community level of skills cannot simply be increased
than the funding partners. These of individual and collective rights or upgraded overnight. It was also
frameworks, used effectively, can and how to attain them. observed that the preferred approach
lead to better dialogue between Challenges to traditional power of INGOs is to strengthen capacity
funding and implementing partners structures, including those of through dialogue and demonstration
on shared humanitarian goals and partners themselves. not instruction, which is a plus point,
how to achieve them in ways that are but also takes time.

The HAP Standard is a practical and measurable tool that represents a broad consensus of what matters most in humanitarian action.
The Sphere Project has established one of the most widely-known and internationally recognised sets of common principles and universal
minimum standards in life-saving areas of humanitarian response.
Missed opportunities Findings 15

When it comes to coordination, Learning and evaluation: There are

Building accountability learning and human resources, two omissions that need attention.
through partnerships the picture is rather more mixed. The first is that there are few lessons
ActionAids drought relief from partners themselves and what
effort in north-east Kenya in Coordination: There are obvious there is is largely anecdotal. The
2011-12 included an advocacy difficulties with partner organisations second relates to the evaluation of
campaign that aimed to link not being included in coordination partnership-based responses. These
local knowledge with advances mechanisms such as the Clusters.7 happen as a matter of course in the
in science. Participatory Funding partners are developing participating agencies, but there is
research was undertaken ad-hoc ways of circumventing these not always sufficient attention paid to
by partner organisations on issues, including giving the partner the partner-related issues around the
community perceptions of the freedom to attend as the INGO response.
impact of drought and coping representative. There is also an issue
mechanisms to combat it. around the coordination of partners Human resource capacity: This is
The partner also asked what and partnership processes. Although an enduring problem for partners.
aspirations communities had in there is ongoing discussion about a Whether international or partner-
terms of policy change, having networked approach to partnership, in based, a skilled staff base is the
translated national policies practice this was not apparent in many central determinant of effective
for local appropriateness, and settings. One notable exception was response. There is seldom a big
understood what communities the work of Tearfund in Kivu, DRC. enough pool of available staff
felt was missing. A set of issues internationally or nationally to meet
was developed, published in a Tearfund building a the demand. This problem can be
citizens report and presented networked approach to especially pronounced for partners,
at a national forum of decision- partnerships in the DRC not least because of the impact on
makers and influencers to In east Kivu, Tearfund worked staff members and their families. The
prompt appropriate change. to bring together three high demand for experienced staff
organisations to design and in a crisis means that a NNGO staff
Cafods inclusion of local implement assistance efforts. member can be paid much more for
government in the accountability Because of the challenges doing the same job with an INGO.
process in Kivu, along with the of facilitating dialogue, this These two factors, combined with
central involvement of partners, required more inputs and the tendency of INGOs to draw from
allowed government to see what support than a simple bilateral the top of the pack, create serious
the demands on local partners partnership might have done. staffing and capacity issues, which
are, and has become a leverage However, by bringing together are hard for partners to overcome
point for advocacy efforts to organisations that were on in the short-term. The research
make government itself more different sides of cultural and showed that where this was mitigated
accountable. religious divides, the resulting it was typically because a specific
response was found to be individual, usually the founder of an
more effective, meeting the organisation, had a firm commitment
needs of diverse communities to keep the organisation going in
and contributing to a sense of the face of better, potentially more
localised reconciliation. lucrative, offers. Such individuals can

Clusters are the UN-led coordination mechanism for groups of humanitarian organisations working in specific sectors (eg. WASH, food, shelter) to
coordinate their activities when responding to an emergency.
16 Missed opportunities Findings

often act as a source of motivation 3. Issues of coordination, learning 3. Efficiency do

for local and national staff to work and human resources are as much an partnerships enhance
for their organisation despite the issue for partners as they are for the
financial benefits being smaller than wider system.
the outputs that can be
for an INGO. This highlights a further achieved for a given input?
important human resources issue Potential of partnerships to
for local partners, which is how to enhance performance The key questions on efficiency of
broaden leadership capacities beyond There are some very positive aspects humanitarian aid relate to the amount
individuals something which, to how partnerships can contribute of outputs that are generated for a
obviously, is as much an issue for the to effectiveness of response. These given input.
international response system. include speed, accountability and
engagement. However, this positive The analysis of the ALNAP SOHS
Key messages: picture is mitigated by the challenges suggests that the overall sector
1. Partner-based responses can be partners face in areas such as performance in this area is
fast, responsive, and well prepared coordination, learning and human moderate. This is based on the fact
for action. resources. For this reason, the that there was no marked progress
overall potential of partnerships is in this area, despite the recent
2. Partner-based responses can scored as good. interest among donors in value for
contribute to accountability and money and economic, cost-benefit
community engagement. based appraisals of assistance.

One of the enduring arguments about

local and national partnerships
is that they can be cheaper than
direct delivery. This came up time
and again in interviews, from
both sides of partnerships. It is
evident that implementing partners
typically have much lower staff
costs and overheads than their
INGO equivalents. The salaries
for staff can be lower by anything
up to a factor of 10. Implementing
partners will also have lower staff
subsistence costs (although there
will be exceptions); and overhead
costs are also lower. Security tends
not to have the premiums that are
Richard Hanson/Tearfund

common with international presence.

Local knowledge can help to reduce
the transaction costs of undertaking
humanitarian work for example,
through understanding of markets for
Building new houses at Saleh Jath village, with support from Tearfund, following the 2010 required goods, or the best route for
Pakistan floods. logistical operations.
Missed opportunities Findings 17

The costs of partnerships

Partnerships require time and investment on the part There is often a need to clarify strategic intent,
of the funding partner. For example: which takes time and resources. Partnerships are
Not all INGO employees have experience of working not a shortcut for efficient responses, and treating
in partnership and may require support and them as such can generate new problems.
mentoring. Despite numerous exceptions highlighted by
Partners too may need sensitisation to the the participating organisations, the majority of
partnering process. resources tend to be targeted at response and
Investment is needed to establish good quality sometimes recovery, rather than preparedness
operational work a large number of LNGOs are and resilience, and partnerships are inherently
resource-poor in many areas. more challenging to establish in such settings.
Bringing in technical staff to address short-term
capacity needs can be challenging for all parties
there are steep learning curves on all sides,
and issues of integration of cultures.

Against all of this, the cost of There was also widespread Some of these are illustrated in the
operations and of goods will typically appreciation that value has softer, Different interpretations of value
be the same for INGOs and LNGOs. more qualitative aspects that a bean for money through partners box,
Moreover, partnerships can incur counting approach does not capture: overleaf.
costs and constraints that are far In the context of local partnership,
from trivial. These costs have been value for money takes on a less Key messages
identified by some agencies as factors explicitly economic measure. 1. Efficiency should not be reduced
to be taken into account (see The to a simplistic assessment of how
costs of partnerships box, above). In general, agencies have employed cheap a response can be, but should
a series of proxies and estimates be based on an understanding of the
Respondents felt that efficiency for efficiency in the context of relative strengths and weaknesses of
should not be reduced to a simplistic partnerships. Among other things, partnership work in different settings.
assessment of cheapness, but should these include:
be based on an understanding of the Retained learning and the degree 2. Cost savings of partnerships can be
relative strengths and weaknesses of of employee/community member considerable, in terms of staff costs,
partnership work. Many were aware retention. but most other aspects of financing a
of the data challenges of calculating Replication of successful humanitarian response are at parity
the efficiency of response for approaches due to retained with international efforts.
example, crises tend to send input community knowledge.
prices spiralling at the early stages, Time and lives saved in starting at 3. Costs of partnerships that need
which can limit comparability even a higher point on the learning curve. to be considered in any efficiency
within the same response. The long-term investment in assessment include setting up,
national and local capacity to maintaining and ongoing capacity
respond. support.
18 Missed opportunities Findings

growing fast enough to keep pace

Different interpretations of value for money through partners with rising needs.
One of the criteria Christian Aid DRC uses to estimate the value for money
of partnerships focuses on reduced employee and management costs, One of the enduring challenges of
as well as the reduction in security costs. Although this is a sensitive the sector is that it has yet to find a
issue, it is clear that the logistical requirements for security are lower middle ground between partner-led,
for implementing partners than for funding partners. Estimates were small-scale response and rapid,
that these costs were reduced by a factor of ten for partners. This is not large-scale international efforts.
to say that Christian Aid expects partners to run risks that international
staff would not, and indeed Christian Aid has very well-developed plans All of the participating INGOs
for partner staff security. That said, it is unarguably true that the cost concurred that partnerships for
of addressing such risks is typically far higher for an international staff response have clear limitations of
member than for a local organisation. scale and coverage for the delivery of
Cafod partner Caritas Kitui in Kenya considers increased wellbeing programmes. Interestingly this point
and satisfaction within the community to be a clear value for money was made regardless of the business
measure, while ActionAid Pakistan believes that measures of individual model and partnership approach
and community empowerment, the ability to advocate for individual and taken by the funding NGO in question.
community rights, and increased individual and community independence
are as important as a simple estimate of money saved. As one informant from a partnership-
based INGO noted:
Cafod adds reach to inaccessible and particularly vulnerable At a certain level it is difficult to scale
communities to the mix of less easily quantifiable benefits, whilst pointing up. For the kinds of organisations
out that, if funding relationships between donors and local implementers we work with, it would be difficult to
were more direct, a clear value for money measure would accrue through handover 7-8m. We can typically run
cutting out the middle-man (the northern NGO). between 0.5m to 5m. After that, we
find it just becomes too risky. We are
trying to find ways of giving more
Potential of partnerships to 4. Do partnerships for example, we can second people
enhance performance enhance coverage? into the organisation for a substantial
Based on the work across the amount of time, and try and build up
agencies in the four settings, there Coverage relates to whether the overall organisational system, but
may be less scope for partnerships to humanitarian assistance can address we face some natural limits
enhance efficiency in the short-term. all the needs created by a crisis.
This is because partnerships are not Key elements of coverage relate to Direct delivery agencies see limits
a silver bullet they require time and sufficiency of inputs, as well as the to partnerships for exactly these
effort to be invested in strategic and scale of operational responses. reasons. It is useful here to reflect
intelligent ways. For this reason, this on the Oxfam GB experience. The
area was scored as moderate. The analysis of the ALNAP SOHS organisation does explicitly work in
report suggests that the overall partnership mode, using many of
sector performance in this area is the same principles espoused by
weak. The report highlights the poor the other four partnership-based
showing of the sector, which is seen INGOs. However, from respondents
as largely a consequence of financial, it is clear that much of this work
human and material resources not is on the development side of the
Missed opportunities Findings 19

system. On the humanitarian side, the decision-making process among organisations operate in settings
the interactions with national and these organisations. The basic where such partnerships are not
local organisations across the four message is that regardless of the possible, or where they might be
emergencies were largely described business model employed, INGOs limited. These situations might, for
as sub-contractual. This was need to find ways to work around the example, involve working not with
justified internally in accordance coverage issues faced when working local partners but with established
with the humanitarian imperative, with partner organisations. INGO national offices. It may mean
namely that Oxfam GB had a duty to establishing a small direct delivery
respond as best it could, and that Feedback from the partner-based unit or having an eye on the long-
humanitarian crises almost by organisations on this issue clearly term, and seeking to build up
definition are situations where local highlighted the fact that there is partners to the point where they can
capacities are overwhelmed, and a coverage-related difference indeed deliver at scale.
Oxfam GB needed to respond directly. between what they are able to mount
through typical partnerships and Partner perspectives contrasted
On the surface of it, this seems to the operational capacities and scale on this issue, with a tendency
be a very different approach to the of larger direct delivery INGOs; to be rather scathing about the
other organisations, which work and that they often need to develop coverage problem and the way it
exclusively in partnership. However, strategies to deal with this difference. is framed by INGOs. From their
on the issue of coverage a similar Such strategies are illustrated in perspective, this tension between the
set of parameters appear to inform how the four partnership-based imperative to deliver at scale and the

Kate Holt/Shoot The Earth/ActionAid

A woman in eastern Congo returns home with her family and animals after fleeing fighting between Congolese military and rebels.
20 Missed opportunities Findings

partnership principle can, at best,

Coverage issues in Haiti
be disempowering to local partners
A well-supported local Haitian NGO operated 10 fee-paying health centres
and, at worst, damaging. They see the
prior to the earthquake in 2010. The arrival of a large international
issue as less about INGOs delivering
emergency health NGO operating free mobile clinics saw the almost
at scale, and more about spending
immediate closure of five of the health centres. At the end of the year-
at scale. The latter, of course, may
long emergency intervention, the INGO left. The LNGO has been unable to
not be especially beneficial to the
recover the resources needed to reopen their facilities. There has been a
affected communities. The adjacent
net loss to the community as a result.
box provides an example of this issue
in Haiti.

One area in which there is Potential of partnerships to The analysis of the ALNAP SOHS
potential to address this issue is enhance performance suggests that the overall sector
in partnerships with large-scale Coverage was perhaps the area most performance in this area is
NNGOs such as BRAC in Bangladesh. challenging for the partnerships moderate. There have been some
In some settings, these NNGOs looked at in the study. Issues of scale improvements in how humanitarian
have considerably greater capacity of delivery cannot be addressed response activities link to longer-
and coverage than most INGOs. simply by pumping funds into national term objectives, but these have
However, such organisations were and local organisations, as all of largely come about thanks to the
noticeable by their absence from the the participating agencies have at efforts of host country governments
discussions of coverage, and indeed different times learnt to their cost. and institutions rather than the
in the research as a whole. Similarly, Based on the work of the agencies international system itself.
few if any informants raised the in the four settings, this is the most
potential of government ancillaries or challenging area for partnerships, The strength of partnership-working
government bodies to help address and currently contributes least to in humanitarian response should be
scale and coverage issues. overall performance. However, that decisions taken in the short-term
it is worth noting that, with a few are viewed through a long-term lens
Key messages exceptions, none of the partnerships and take into account the impact that
1. Coverage is a major limiting looked at involved larger NNGOs action has on the community.
factor for partnerships, as seen by and, where this was the case, the
partnership-focused agencies and agencies in question could deliver at By working with local partners who
direct delivery organisations alike. comparable levels to international already have presence on the ground,
agencies. For this reason, the there is also the scope to link better
2. Partners themselves suggest that potential of partnerships was rated to pre-disaster efforts in development
the issue is less about delivering as moderate. and resilience. All organisations
effective programmes at scale, and and partners consulted espouse
more about spending. this principle, but with nuances and
5. Do partnerships caveats.
3. There is a need for the improve connectedness?
humanitarian sector to engage On linking response to recovery
more closely with large NNGOs and and development, the message
The extent to which short-term
governmental ancillaries and bodies was clear: They [local partners]
emergency response steps take
on issues of scale and coverage. are there for longer, they can go in,
longer-term and interconnected
they can smooth the response. As
problems into account.
one implementing partner put it:
Missed opportunities Findings 21

Everything you [the humanitarian

responder] talk about is what we
do in our long-term development
programming anyway.

However, attempts to link

development and humanitarian
activities are often met with little
enthusiasm within INGOs. This
is of course a common problem.
Most INGOs have experienced
some form of silo working in the
past, and the explicit separation of
donor development and emergency
funding only serves to exacerbate
the problem. Many INGO staff
acknowledge that they need to find
a new way of working that joins up
their own dots at community level,
and which does not force internal
institutional tensions onto partners.
Attempts are being made to bridge
the gap through the new agenda
on resilience (see box overleaf).
Resilience approaches place
vulnerability at the centre stage of
all steps of the emergency cycle, and
seek to extend such an understanding
into development efforts.

There was an observable tendency

for partnership efforts to sit on top
of existing institutional divides and
silos rather than resolving them.
The constant pressure to deliver
in emergency operations and the
Christian Aid/Amanda Farrant

separation of development funding

means that this problem is unlikely to
go away any time soon.

So, although there is potential for

partnerships to smooth the sharp
Kabale Ture, a widow from Moyale, northern Kenya, received four goats from Christian Aid
partner CCSMKE during the drought, and training to feed them. edges, this is ultimately down to
how committed the funding partner
22 Missed opportunities Findings

is to supporting their partner to do Potential of partnerships to

so. The research found that despite enhance performance Oxfam GB in Kenya, working
some rhetoric to the contrary, and the Based on the work across the with partners across the
often considerable efforts of partners agencies in the four settings, this disaster cycle
themselves, the dilemmas and is another area where partnership- One feature of working with
dysfunctions of a connected approach based responses come into their own. partners that are committed
to response that are often put at the Because of the continued presence to working in specific
door of the supersized international of national and local partners, communities and regions is
response system are as evident in and ongoing engagement with the that they are able to better
those organisations that espouse a communities in question, there is bridge the divides that are often
softer and more contextually driven much more scope for these actors to apparent between development
approach. bridge the gaps between the different and humanitarian efforts,
silos apparent in the international and between the different
Key messages: system. However, this will not happen phases of humanitarian work.
1. National partners can clearly automatically in all settings, Across Oxfam GBs portfolio,
help to smooth the links between and there were instances of one of the best examples of
resilience, preparedness, response, international actors passing on this is the work of WASDA
recovery and development. their internal divisions to partners. in Kenya, who have been a
For this reason, this area was longstanding partner. WASDA
2. They cannot do this unless funding scored as good. work in development efforts,
NGOs and donors put their house in focusing on long-term food
order otherwise the institutional security and agricultural
divides simply get transferred down development issues. They also
the system. work in disaster risk reduction,
ensuring that communities
3. The resilience agenda has potential can be aware of, and respond
to address this issue, but more to, hazards; offer life-saving
needs to be done to position it as a interventions through cash
means of bridging the humanitarian transfers and cash for work
development divide if it is going to tap programmes, which aim to
this potential. enhance purchasing power by
diversifying income streams;
and work on recovery efforts,
helping to move communities
back towards pre-existing
development trajectories. By
working across all of these
areas in the same communities,
WASDA is able to greatly
enhance the connectedness of
the response effort, and ensure
that there are strategic and
operational linkages across
these different areas.
Missed opportunities Findings 23

Summary of the potential The diagram shows clearly that the This illustrative diagram should not
potential for the partnership approach be taken to mean that by investing
of partnerships against
is strongest in three specific in partnerships these problems
performance of the system areas: relevance/appropriateness, will be simply or easily resolved.
effectiveness and connectedness. Nor, equally, should it be taken to
Based on the research findings
mean that partnerships couldnt
summarised in this report, it is
It is in these areas, across the contribute positively to coverage or
useful to compare the potential of
20 contexts looked at in this research, efficiency. Rather, the comparison is
partnerships with the indicative
that partnerships were making the to show that there are clearly areas
assessments of sector-wide
most consistent and unambiguous where the sector as a whole is not
performance given in the research
contribution to humanitarian performing as might be wished, and
teams independent analysis of
performance. In the other two areas, where partnership efforts on the
the ALNAP 2012 SOHS report.
the picture was rather more nuanced basis of evidence from five agencies
The diagram below sets out this
and involved both potential and also in four major emergency responses
illustrative comparison and indicates
some considerable challenges. have potential to help enhance
that partnerships have the potential to
address some of the key issues facing
the sector.


Connectedness Effectiveness

Coverage Efficiency

System performance
Potential contribution of partnerships
Can partnerships realise their potential?

It seems clear from the findings Strengths Weaknesses

that national and local partnerships G rowing engagement by Funds for capacity building and
are under-used as a strategy national and local civil society in preparedness are limited and time
for strengthening humanitarian humanitarian and disaster risk bound; and many partners are
performance. The system is reduction issues. living on borrowed capacity, in
currently missing some significant G rowth of middle-income countries that they do not get to strengthen or
opportunities to make long-called-for and assertive states is placing build capacity but simply import it
improvement in how aid works. limits on INGO responses, for the duration of a crisis.
and creating more demand for National governments are at
Despite this evidence, which has partnerships with local and varying degrees of preparedness
been supported by numerous national actors. for disaster.
major evaluations over the past two The growing focus on resilience W here donor funds are made
decades, it is not clear if partnerships makes the need for better working available, it is often following a
with local and national actors can with partners even more important, disaster, rather than before when
make the contribution that many because it demands continuous they are most needed.
observers have long felt they should, engagement which is prohibitively There is a notable ambivalence
unless some strategic changes take expensive for many INGOs. across many parts of the
place within the sector. There is growing evidence that international community towards
partnerships can address key the issue of partnerships with local
Many of the levers for such strategic performance issues for the sector. and national actors.
changes do not solely sit within Partnerships enable the sector to There are limited initiatives and
partnership processes. There are deliver on promises of community equally limited funds to support the
wider global and contextual issues engagement and downward rhetoric with action.8
that have a bearing on the role of accountability. Partnerships take time to develop
national local partners. There are and are as dependent upon the
also sectoral factors that influence chemistry between organisations
whether local partnerships will get as upon the skill set each can share.
the attention and resources they C  apacity building takes time and,
deserve. at times, that means that INGOs
will rightly choose to work more
These are presented here in the form directly.
of a SWOT analysis. C  apacity building is poorly
resourced, often depending upon
individual partner agencies limited
unrestricted funding.
M  onitoring and evaluation
frameworks and information
systems are ill-adapted for mutual
learning between northern and
southern partners.
G  ood partnerships also call for
strategic focus from the local
partners, investment of time and
resources, and the ability to engage
with international actors.
Missed opportunities Can partnerships realise their potential? 25

Opportunities Threats The key for advancing the role of

The Good Humanitarian Donorship9 The growing scale and frequency partnerships with national and local
process is under review, an explicit of disasters is demanding more actors is to build on these strengths,
objective being to ensure that localised responses because the find ways to mitigate the weaknesses,
the new donors influence the international community cannot capitalise on opportunities and see
humanitarian response framework be everywhere all the time. This off threats.
from within. challenges partnerships and
DFIDs HERR makes a powerful local actors, but also presents Key messages
case for a review of the nature of opportunities for more nationally- 1. Factors beyond the sector are
partnership in its many forms, led responses. pushing for a greater localisation
accepting that the status quo in There are strong pressures to of aid these include the range and
response must shift to reflect the maintain the current status quo complexity of disasters, growing
changing world. of the humanitarian sector, which numbers of middle income countries,
The UN Secretary General has is northern-centric and largely and the perceived performance of the
called for a World Humanitarian shaped by northern actors. A international community.
Summit in 2015. strategic shift towards southern
There is potential for greater actors is not a neutral one, but will 2. Within the sector, while there
engagement with large NNGOs, potentially see northern/western has been some rhetorical attention
southern international NGOs and humanitarian agencies lose out to partnerships, funding and
National Disaster Management in terms of resources. Therefore organisational structures still largely
Agencies. any suggestion of a more localised give preference to international actors
Partnerships can bridge the approach to response is likely to over national ones.
resilience, response and recovery meet with resistance, even if the
divides at community level humanitarian imperatives are 3. There is scope and space for
and above. clear-cut. a renewed focus on capacity and
partnerships as a result of the
attention being paid to resilience
and innovation.

Where preparedness funding is sourced through NGOs own (unrestricted) resources, it is limited by the demands placed upon their reserves by
the regular management and other recurring costs of the organisation not covered by institutional grants. While institutional grants are rarely made
directly available for national partners to develop their operational capacity, funding for capacity building of these same partners to influence policy on
humanitarian response and recovery at national level and above is even leaner.
A network which promotes principles and practice which enhance the coherence and effectiveness of donor action.
Conclusions and recommendations

This report concludes that a Partnerships are still conditioned and The report authors concur with this
step-change in the sectors efforts in shaped by the existing humanitarian vision. No one doubts the challenges
southern capacities and partnerships system; so many are largely of realising this vision. Progress will
is needed as a means to address reactive, poorly funded and weakly inevitably be at different speeds in
longstanding issues in humanitarian documented, with often uncertain different regions. But, as this report
performance. impact. But a significant number has demonstrated, the need for such
do help to achieve humanitarian transformative change is beyond
At the present time, partnerships objectives in ways that are more question. The poor and vulnerable of
between international humanitarian relevant, appropriate, effective, the world deserve nothing less from
actors and national and local actors efficient and connected. those who set out to help them.
do not achieve their full potential to
enhance humanitarian performance. Even if the humanitarian sector was There are four broad areas of
This is for a variety of reasons, as set to largely retain the shape and form it recommendations for the next 12
out in this report. Continuing to miss has today, there is scope for national to 24 months that will help advance
this opportunity in the face of growing and local partnerships to contribute the partnerships agenda.
vulnerability and risk is a potential more to aid performance.
tragedy among the other inevitable
tragedies that will occur. But the real transformative vision
for southern partnerships lies
The evidence collated here shows a further into the future, when such
number of areas where national and efforts are part of the day-to-day
local partnerships can significantly realities of humanitarian aid. The
contribute to humanitarian vision expressed by many of those
performance. These are areas interviewed was for a humanitarian
where the sector as a whole has sector which is a more democratic,
been underperforming because of balanced and accountable endeavour,
systemic problems in the way that where capacities are fully considered
international responses are conceived as well as needs, and where the
and delivered. emphasis is less on assistance and
more on cooperation.
Missed opportunities Conclusions and recommendations 27

Investing in change
1. Enhanced investments in national and local 2. Substantial and sustained funding should be given to
partnerships should be a priority for humanitarian donors, a multi-donor fund for disaster management capacity
including, wherever possible, through their contributions building. Examples of a structure for this include the
to current and emerging crises. Africa Capacity Building Foundation.

Setting the agenda

3. Southern partnerships for humanitarian aid must be a 4. The vital role of partnerships with local and national
central plank of humanitarian policy agendas, including actors in building resilience needs to be included in
that of the Good Humanitarian Donorship process, and the current debates and emerging new practice on resilience
World Humanitarian Summit, with a view to influencing and integrated approaches to development and disaster
new policy frameworks and instruments. prevention.

Building knowledge and shared understanding

5. Humanitarian aid agencies, donors, UN agencies, and 6. Humanitarian actors across the sector should build on
their local and national partners must build the evidence current networks and establish a sector-wide knowledge
base on local and national partnerships, undertaking more platform to support the documentation and exchange
case studies of the work of partnership-based INGOs, of information, experience and ideas on capacity and
direct delivery INGOs, NNGOs, UN agencies, and southern partnerships. This could be supported and housed by
INGOs, building on the present study and, for example, existing networks such as ALNAP.
recent studies by Christian Aid and Oxfam.

Strengthening practices
7. Humanitarian aid agencies and their local and national 8. Partnerships need to move from a series of bilateral
partners must strengthen the application and use of to networked efforts, with more information exchange and
capacity assessments in humanitarian responses, coordination on partner response. Greater coordination
building on the progress already made in the area of between INGOs, donors and local and national networks
needs assessments. These should ideally be done prior to should be prioritised to support this.
emergency events, and seek to build shared capacity maps
of known crisis hotspots.
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