27th International Conference
of the Red Cross and Red Crescent



Organisers : British Red Cross and British Government (DFID)

The proposition for the workshop was that a strategic partnership approach may provide a mechanism to build coherence and consistency in Movement programming. It may also assist the critical challenges of improving dialogue with donor governments and maintaining resource flows for humanitarian situations and longer term vulnerability reduction programmes.

The workshop sought to shed light and provide space for dialogue on questions such as: What is the motivation for donors or the Movement to enter into partnerships? Of the existing partnerships which work best and why? How do partnership arrangements work in practice? What are the end results of a partnership approach for the most vulnerable?

The workshop was chaired by Dr. Mukesh Kapila, Head of the Conflict and Humanitarian Affairs Department at the UK Government Department for International Development.

Presentations from the British Red Cross, British Government, Nigerian Red Cross, International Federation and ICRC outlined the perspective and experiences of partnership from the viewpoint of a donor government and different parts of the Movement.

The main partnership models discussed were the DFID/Federation and DFID/ICRC partnerships, the Tripartite Pilot Project, the ICRC Donor Support Group, the auxiliary role of National Societies with government and partnerships between different components of the Movement. It was noted that there is no 'one' model, but rather that partnerships need to be tailored to individual contexts.

Generally, the participants welcomed the partnership model as a new way of working in a changing world. Partnership arrangements could replace short term, ad hoc, personality based support from donors with a longer-term, more coherent and more predictable relationship. It was stressed that partnerships should be results orientated, and should lead to more efficient ways of working. Communication was seen to be key, with greater degree of dialogue and openness between partners than in more traditional donor/recipient relationships. Partnerships should not limit relations between organisations, but rather act as a gateway from which to build and explore further opportunities.

However, the experiences of the participants showed the need to be realistic about the inputs and resources needed to start up and maintain this kind of complex relationship. Expectations need to be managed of all stakeholders, both direct participants and those more indirectly involved in the process.

A prerequisite for the Red Cross / Red Crescent Movement, is that the independence of the organisations involved should remain paramount. The partnership approach was seen by all involved as very much work in progress. The workshop therefore provided a useful forum to share learning and experiences. Overall, the success of the partnership model will ultimately be judged on its ability to provide improved benefits for the vulnerable.


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