Regranting? Call it Partnership Approach and it makes sense but...

Full Text Sharing

Reports recently published are offering a grim view on how relief money for the victims of the earthquakes.  Thomson Reuters Foundation and the Disaster Accountability Project, DAP are showing a general lack of transparency not only on how the money are spent but also how much of these money are actually reaching the intended beneficiaries.

The DAP report, published in June and covering the first months of emergency relief, is particularly interesting because analyzes how organizations made use of social media as a fund raising platform to raise funds for the earthquakes. While there are certainly some good practices, a very large number of organizations approached did not even reply to the survey sent by DAP. Many of these organizations are even misleading during the on line appeal, with several of them not even assuring that the money will be spent for the nepali victims

Overall the report from DAP said “Once money is raised, it is hard to track and measure its effectiveness for relief efforts”.

Recommending overall better coordination, transparency and consistency, the DAP report offers the best and most comprehensive review of how non state organizations have been mobilizing resources for the quakes, including an analysis of the numbers of workers being mobilized for the same.

Now I would like to highlight an important issue raised by DAP, the so called “re-granting” process when international INGOs “outsource” the services delivery to local NGOs. Actually this kind of working modality is the cornerstone of the entire working strategy of international charities in the country as all of them are working with local partners. Re-granting is not an option but it is law.

In fact it is very clear that all international non state actors active in Nepal must partner with local counterparts instead of carrying out the development work by themselves. The rationale behind the approach is the overall development and empowerment of local capabilities that are on the ground because they know the communities the international aid is supposed to serve.

Known as “partnership” modality, it makes absolute sense and over the last decades the approach paid off with now many local NGOs adequately equipped to deal on their own while delivering aid and carrying out development work.

Still this system has been widely criticized because it allows room for double overheads at INGO level and at implementation level with the local NGOs. In fact having partners on the ground did not prevent INGOs from hiring large number of local staff, many of them involved on the so called capacity building and organizational development of their counterparts.

Also here in principle there should not be any problem in investing resources to strengthen the local NGOs, implying the so called “co-implementation” of development work as a necessary evil.

If the aim justifies the means, there should not be any big problems in having the staff of partner organizations supported by the colleagues from the INGO prtners.

This sounds reasonable enough but up to when and up to which scale is all this overlapping admissible and acceptable?

Capacity building and organizational development should not be ever ending processes but rather both of them should have clear starting and ending.

The reality is that things are much more complex on the ground and it not easy to measure or to define the “readiness” levels of local NGOs.

Yet real expertise on organizational development sets clear approaches to phase out from a partnership thanks to the setting of clear indicators and benchmarks. Make no mistakes. This is a long term process that can take at least three to five years or more, depending on the level of funding and availability of local expertise but effective organizational development is not forever.

The “run’ for better salaries where staff of local NGOs strive for landing a better paid job with INGOs certainly does not help in building the skills of NGOs’ staff.

With weak regulators, INGOs should do a better job at regulating themselves and be coherent with their obligations with their local counterparts: build skills and capacities for them to be able to run the operations independently and without any “remote” controls.

The fact that most of INGOs who entered the country exclusively to provide relief for the quakes are here to stay for long does not bode well for the country. Exceptions always exists but INGOs in general should not be in the country forever unless they decide to act as real grant makers or turn themselves in local organization, itself a very controversial move.



Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.