Reports we Support

L'Osservatorio presents reports and other types of research studies produced by international organisations, NGOs, and research centres interested in issues concerning the protection of civilians in conflict, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding frameworks. The aim is to offer to the general public summarised versions and a synthesis of these reports and research materials, thus makeing highly technical documents accessible to everyone.

This article is a brief presentation of Save the Children’s research focusing on partnerships in conflict-affected situations.

The research, commissioned by Save the Children and Saferworld and funded by Sida and IKEA Foundation,  offers insights and findings on how the international organisations and local or national organisations can work together in partnership to respond to crises. 

A shifting paradigm among donors and international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) on how to manage resources in response to conflict situations has led to a locally-led leadership strategy, where the national partners or Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have the authority in decision-making. They can respond and determine the use of aid directly to where they live and build a collaboration that is more effective and efficient. This study wants to show how strategic it is and what common obstacles often occurred during the response so we can learn from it. Case studies to be analysed where picked up after a two-day international roundtable discussion between national and international organisations in London (3-4 December 2018). 

The methodology consists of: literature review, the preliminary consultations/interviews, desk-based case studies, and in-depth key informant interviews in two countries: Myanmar and Uganda as well as remotely from Syria. This research focused on partnerships that demonstrated partial localisation, advanced localisation or were fully locally-led partnerships. The partial localisation means that there will be a systemic and regular engagement with people from the area in which the decision-making processes on aid are framed by the INGOs. The advance localisation is collaborative decision-making processes on the use of aid with National Non-Governmental Organisations (NNGO)/International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs)/donors. The locally-led means that the community from the conflict-affected area fully determines the use of aid while NNGOs and/or INGOs only offer support when requested. 

Partnership models that support locally-led crisis response in conflict situations consists of: progressive project-based partnership models, three-layered partnership models, CSO-led consortium-based partnership models, and survivor and community-led crisis responses (locally-led). Several practices in the field such as the Save the Children RISE project in Syria are an example of a progressive project-based partnership where 75% of all aid coming from CSO inside Syria and less than one percent from international assistance. Another example is a project in Myanmar by the Border Consortium’s (TBC) organisation-wide approach which as the hybrid model also known as the three-layered partnership model, could advocate priority of CSO’s activities and intervene in the conflict areas. In Myanmar, Oxfam through The Joint Strategy Team (JST) and the Durable Peace Partnership is also an example of an advanced local partnership by building a CSO-led consortium-based model. The Start Network and Christian Aid pilots in the northeast and northwest Myanmar from the local to global protection (L2GP) initiative model is an example of a survivor and community-led crisis response (locally-led).

The research interview also highlighted some strategies and tactics used to address common obstacles to locally-led crisis response by INGO-CSO partnerships. These learning strategies and tactics consist of: (i) Strengthening civil society at large, supporting civil society as a whole which brings groups and organisations together from across conflict boundaries to collaborate on peacebuilding; (ii) Enabling flexible and adaptive programming in conflict situations to encourage CSOs providing the most relevant and effective strategy on program implementation; (iii) Building a mutual trust to support CSO’s security management on strategies and tactics for the long-term strategic locally-led partnership; (iv) Transfer of risk and responsible partnering which leads to a more effective and efficient response.

This study highlights the important intermediary role of the INGOs as well as donors. To enable locally-led crisis response in advocacy and apply more flexible means of funding and partnership with CSOs. Three highlighted recommendations are: actively advance a progressive vision of localisation; understand and realise the potential that locally-led crisis response and progressive partnership models have to transform conflict sensitivity in practice; strengthening the broader ecosystem of civil society rather than just individual organisations, even if conflict dynamics limit the range of support that NGOs can provide.


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Author: Mery Ana Farida; Editor: Sara Gorelli

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