III. Accountability in partnerships


At CARE, working with partners is a key strategy to achieve our impact goals and fight more effectively against global poverty and injustice. The last Accountability Report identified accountability in partnerships is a key area to investigate.

1. Strengthening CARE's accountability with partners

This section is under development as we are currently exploring key dimensions of CARE’s accountability with partners and capturing learning, both documenting current good practices and learning about practices to avoid!

We are currently looking at accountability practices in the following areas:
  1. Communication, openness, and information-sharing: Good communication is at the heart of successful partnerships and should be taken very seriously. It can make or break the partnership. Communication challenges are often amplified in remote partnerships.
  2. Equity, respect and mutual accountability: Equity in partnerships is critical and involves: being valued for what each party brings, enjoying equitable rights and responsibilities, having a fair say in decisions, benefiting equitably from the partnership, creating mutually-beneficial value. Equity is built by truly respecting the views, attributes, and contributions of all those involved.
  3. Shared capacity, organisational development & learning: Competitiveness can easily break a partnership. Agreeing to explore and build on the added value of collaboration and understanding the right of all partners to gain from their engagement in the partnership is an important starting point to build commitment to the joint initiative. An effective partnership should deliver mutual benefit.
  4. Shared vision, mission, and goals to achieve better impact: Partnerships are often marked by real (or perceived) anxieties about working with organizations that are different from us. A commitment to exploring each others’ motivation, values and underlying interests will build understanding and appreciation of the added value that comes from diversity, quelling fears that differences may lead to conflict or relationship breakdown.
  5. Existence of monitoring and evaluation mechanisms for efficient feedback and participation: While it is common to assess the outcomes of the joint initiative, assessing the health of the partnership to deliver on these outcomes is as critical. This can also provide key information on the effectiveness of the partnership and its value-add, and generate lessons learned on good partnering.

See the attached the learning note for more details.

Accountability in Partnership Learning Questions (Draft)


2. Good Practices and Tools

  • CARE Caucasus
CARE Caucasus has implemented a CO Accountability Framework, which has included new engagement practices with implementing partners. They recognize that partnership is an important part of accountability, and view sub-contracting as power relationship – not a partnership unless you consciously make it so.
To change this dynamic, CARE Caucasus has taken several steps. They organize mutual ‘expectation clarifying’ meetings with partners. They write all contracts not as sub-contracts for services, but as mutual commitments – that specify how each partner can hold the other accountable. ‘We then systematically collect and report their feedback… how they experience us, the quality of our work, our responsiveness, the progress towards our shared goals. We publish the feedback in our project reports. We benchmark it and discuss it.’
Gia Glonti, the Mission Director, describes it in these terms: Accountability should not be a struggle for power – rather it should be a mutual commitment to work for shared outcomes in the most effective way possible. The quality of our relationships with our partners are critical. We need to find ways of measuring and monitoring this too.

  • CARE Uganda
CARE Uganda has a long history working in partnership with civil society organisations or government partners in different programmatic areas such as Women and Youth Financial Inclusion, Natural Resources Governance and Women Empowerment. Through diverse projects, CARE Uganda has been extremely strong in encouraging mutually beneficial partnerships and in strengthening capacity-building that helped partners to be more sustainable in the longer-term. The openness, flexibility, and support of CARE staff have also been the conditions to build “partnership of equity”.

The ‘CARE Uganda Partnership Strategy’ developed in 2012 (see below) marked the first attempt to design a clear strategy to systematize CARE Uganda ’s approach to partners and helped in identifying the 4 main steps to build a successful and accountable partnership: 1) Scoping and building, 2) Managing and Maintaining, 3) Reviewing and Revising, 4) Sustain and/or moving on.
Last year in August in 2017, CARE Uganda organised a two days’ workshop, the ‘Partner Reflection Meeting’ (see report below), which stands as a new practice for improved communication and coordination between the implementing partners, based on honesty and transparency. Partners highly appreciated being given the opportunity to meet together and share openly on what has worked in the partnership and what needed to be improved in the near future. Therefore, CARE Uganda Office’s experience offers a great example of how CARE implements accountability practices with its partners.

However, long-term partners are also willing to see a new shift in CARE’s role that would lessen their dependencies on CARE and allow them to have a leading role in the national scene. They wish to see CARE able to take more risks advocating on local issues at the international level, and ready to stand behind them instead of protecting their own interests as an INGO.
More recent partnering experiences in Northern Uganda in humanitarian contexts are also significantly challenging CARE’s current business model while bringing the localisation debates at the forefront on how to reinforce local partners capacities during emergency responses.

The case-study below has been conducted with CARE Uganda in February 2018. It captures the key dimensions of CARE Uganda's accountability practices with some of its partners and includes main findings and suggestions for improvement.

CARE Uganda Case-Study


All Partners Reflection Meeting Report

CARE Uganda Partnership Strategy 2012

  • Humanitarian partnership
There is an increasing use of partnership/collaborative model in CARE’s humanitarian work and increasing efforts to strengthen civil society as part of humanitarian action. However, subcontracting remains the main mode of ‘partnering’ in humanitarian action at CARE. While some models of innovative, transformative partnerships exist, these are still the exceptions rather than the norm. We still tend to see partnership as a mode of delivery, not a transformative strategy to alter power structures and unleash new solutions. Moreover, our funding model – heavily reliant on restricted funding - stifles our capacity to invest in partnership and civil society strengthening. We are capturing learning in this area, with a number of interesting cases documented.

Case-studies:
Gender Transformative Partnerships in Emergencies
Realising The potential of partnerships in the Nepal Earthquake Response
Localisation in Practice, A Pacific Case Study

CARE Pakistan Partnership Model

CARE International Civil Society Resource

  • Partnership Surveys
A number of CARE Country offices regularly survey partners to capture their feedback on CARE and identify ways of improving relationships and our performance. Click here to see a sample of CARE Denmark Partnership Survey

Capture.PNGPlease do contact us if you have other good practices to share.
Principles of Partnership (Global Humanitarian Platform)


3. External Resources

Below are two resources from external organisations.

Keystone Accountability Partnership Performance Survey
Oxfam Partnership Policy

Mercy Corps Scorecard for Partnerships