PK Forum: What do you think international organisations could do differently to better support local organisations?
International organisations could spend more time and effort in getting to know the local context and the potential local partners organisations for three reasons.
First, the word “context” has been used time and time again but the complex local conditions go beyond a one page context briefing, a forum discussion, or a field trip.
When considering areas/issues to work on, the usual focus is more on the availability of suitable implementing partners and checking off the boxes on a list of requirements, and less on the sensitivity of the local context. This is where the local organisations come in.
Second, most local organisations lack the technical skills in writing proposals, responding to CFPs or project documentation. Requirements and standards are easier to be met if they understand the rationale behind it, be it strategies, indicators or M&E plans.
It helps if the documents are in the local language and a lot better if you spend a little more time and effort, providing one on one consultations. It is time consuming but definitely worth it because the wealth of knowledge on local context are assets that no international expert can have.
Third, a lot of the time, INGOs tend to reach out to the regular circle of partners due to the pressure to fund or implement quickly within a certain timeframe.
This seems practical in the shorter term but creates problems in the longer run.
Local organisations that are donor favourites continue to build their capacities and get more projects funded whereas the smaller/newer ones get left behind. With more donors and INGOs arriving in Myanmar, the local organisations are starting to get overwhelmed.
This is also partly due to the fact that they (even the donor favourites) get minimal to almost no funding at all to build their organisational/institutional capacities. They work mostly under project funding cycles and attend 1-2 days workshops that are soon forgotten.
I know most funding models do not cover core funding or overhead costs but it would be nice to see some changes in this area. I think it is necessary to get out of this cycle by supporting local organisations.