Equitable Partnerships in International Development

The international development sector is evolving, emphasising equitable partnerships that prioritize the voices and power of the Global South. Gerrit De Vries supported Terre des Hommes Netherlands and DAHW Germany with GLRA India with working towards equitable partnerships.
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May 28, 2024

By Gerrit de Vries

Decolonisation and Shift the Power

Following trends such as DecolonisationofAid and Shift the Power the international development sector in changing. Organisations are looking for new ways of working with their offices and partners in the Global South, acknowledging that the insights, voice and power of actors in the Global South need to get a much more central place than is currently the case.

This demands for forms of equitable partnering, where organisations from the Global South and North design new ways of working together, from ‘us and them’ to ‘we’. Perspectivity’s Gerrit De Vries is active in facilitating the design of such equitable partnerships. In such partnerships, partners work together towards jointly formulated ambitions and collaborative forms of working, building on the complementarity of what each organisation brings.

Terre des Hommes Netherlands

Together with Théa L Khoury LINEAR LINES Lebanon,  Gerrit worked with Terre des Hommes Netherlands in reviewing their set-up of national, regional and global offices in view of their new Listen Up! Strategy 2030. They approached the set-up of all these offices in The Netherlands and several countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, as a partnership with all related dynamics. They looked at how the partnership could work in an equitable manner, whilst delivering TdH NL’s Listen Up! Strategy that includes research, learning and advocacy, and becoming a global catalyst of change to stop child exploitation. With participatory and probing methods ranging from interviews, Focus Group Discussions and a validation and sense-making workshop, they involved a great variety of management, staff, works council, a supervisory board member, and partner organisations. The use of Power tools and the AIROP model of Ambitions, Interests, Relations, Organisation, and Process, yielded lots of structured insights into the different dimensions of TdH NL as a partnership.

Scenarios were developed and the organisations discovered that real change is much more than just what type of offices and structures are needed. In addition to systems, structures and governance, scenarios include reflections on mindsets, power, equitability, inclusive decision-making and creating a collaborative culture. A cross-organisational working group will now further work on the follow-up.


DAHW Germany and GLRA India

DAHW Germany and GLRA India have been collaborating for decades to tackle tuberculosis and leprosy, which are widespread in India, especially leprosy, of which 60% of the world’s cases are found in India.

Both organisations wanted to review their collaboration to become more equitable and collaborative. In a process with interviews, group sessions and a 3 day on- and offline workshop Rakhi Singh from Timshel Coaching & Consulting India and Gerrit. Participatory techniques such as joint mind-mapping, dialogues, groupwork, visioning, fears and hopes were applied in a co-creative process. There were open discussions about values, power, equitability, mutual accountability, quality. Concrete steps forward were created, including revision of roles, responsibilities and behaviours of both parties, organisation development trajectories, input for a strategic partnering framework, clarity about individual and joint governance, and clear approaches and roadmaps for the change to come.


Equitable Partnerships

Both trajectories have shown that equitable partnerships will move from a transactional to a more collaborative way of working. The collaborative way of thinking starts from the first moment: the preparation of the reviews and workshops have been done in a collaborative spirit where all stakeholders think along. The processes have been co-creations.

Perspectivity facilitation has taken these elements at the core of the approach, by applying a partnership lens where all partners are equal and have complementary wisdom and knowledge. By applying working formats where minority views are heard, dialogues are encouraged and joint decisions are taken, we hope to have contributed to changes that are lasting, since they are owned and co-created by the participants.


More information

Want to know more? Contact Gerrit de Vries