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In December and January, Martine Zeuthen and the Integrity research team evaluated a number of projects operating mainly in Africa and the Middle East. International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) and Overseas Develoment Institute (ODI) initiated the reviews to assess the approaches of different projects and make recommendations concerning the communication capacity of researchers and organisations. INAP and ODI designed and delivered a capacity development programme to improve the communications capacity of several African research grantees of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). The key findings of the evaluation include the following recommendations:
•Build on what works: Even the weakest organisations communicate with their stakeholders. Support ought to be built around the competencies and skills that the organisations already have in place. Only then should organisations seek to add new components, tools, and links to other communication approaches.
•Consider organisational culture and context in any needs assessment: Instead of focusing only on technical considerations, needs assessments should enquire into the culture of the organisation, its attitude towards different forms of communication, its business models, the roles of key individuals and how its external context affects its communications tactics.
•Do not take demand for granted: Demand from research organisations to improve communication should be confirmed by those contracted to provide capacity development support. Often research organisations have no real intention to learn and adapt but engage in capacity building programmes to please and more effectively manage relations with donors.
Integrity is leading a formulation mission for the Joint Donor Team (JDT) in South Sudan, exploring options to create a civil society fund. The fund would support civil society’s transition from its current focus on humanitarian work and delivery of basic services, to broader developmental activities encompassing rights-based approaches, good governance and accountability.
Post-Independence, civil society is redefining its role as the country attempts to transition from years of conflict and insecurity towards more stable development programming and democratic governance.
The heavy dependence of the economy of South Sudan on oil and natural resources further increases the need for civil society to engage in issues of revenue transparency and budgetary monitoring.
The fund would support the country’s nascent civil society organisations to develop robust internal accountability mechanisms, and to build strong relations with their beneficiaries and constituents. It would also aim to create space for civil society to engage with the new government at national, state and county levels.
The Joint Donor Team comprises six international partners (Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, UK).
Posted by: Kate Ives, Head of Stakeholder Engagement
Integrity’s governance specialist, Oliver Coleman, has recently had a
discussion paper published by International IDEA. Co-authored with Greg
Power (Global Partners & Associates), The Challenges of Political
Programming: International Assistance to Parties and Parliaments
examines the current state of the democratic support field
and the difficulties faced by donors and practitioners in engaging
with the political systems in recipient countries.
As donors seek greater evidence of impact and the limitations of solely
material support to parliaments and parties have become apparent,
there has been a growing acknowledgement that democratic support
requires programmes to address the political dynamics within
these institutions. While there has been a broad strategic consensus on this approach, implementation within programming has proved more challenging.
The paper analyses these developments and assesses the progress made in meeting these challenges, through a broad survey of donor and practitioner literature and four detailed case studies of recent programmes. In conclusion the paper finds that although donors are using more sophisticated approaches in designing programmes, the flexibility required is still largely absent on the ground. Political change is ultimately a internally driven process and as such donors and practitioners need to alter their roles to become facilitators of political changes rather than drivers of that change.