Working in partnership – practices and experiences from DUPC2 projects

1 July 2020

Working with partners is a key approach for IHE Delft to help address water and development challenges. This approach is strongly supported by the DUPC2 programme. The DUPC2 activities so far, are jointly developed and implemented with 188 partners of which 135 are partners from the 35 countries where the DUPC2 supported activities take place.

Broadening project partnerships

To increase impact on the ground, DUPC2 explicitly encourages broadening project partnerships to also include other partners than academic partners. As a result of this, there is now a substantial involvement of civil society (50), government (38) and private sector partners (16), next to the 84 knowledge institutions. But what do these partnerships look like? Why did they start and how do they work? What are the results and experiences and how can the programme support improvements?

Gaining better understanding

At the beginning of this year DUPC2 organised a partnership survey to gain better understanding of the partnerships in DUPC2 supported projects. In total 43 partners responded to the survey and the results will help better tailor the DUPC2 programme, and the projects supported, towards societal impact. The results also feed into an anticipated new phase of the programme in the future.

Diversity in partnerships

In the survey, partners, amongst others, expressed the importance of diversity in project partnerships. As one partner puts it “societal issues require interventions that involve several actors, the more you involve all parties the better you run a change to solve the problem even beyond the life time of the DUPC2 project”. The main added value of a diverse partnership indicated was the opportunity and ability to learn from each other when working with diverse partners (84%). Diverse partnerships also helped in achieving project objectives (67%) and impact on the ground (67%).

However, it is also clear that diversity in project partnerships brings challenges. Communication challenges between partners (51%) was the most common challenge according to the survey. Respondents indicated that working with diverse partners can lead to more difficulty in achieving project objectives (24%) and to some extent, achieving impact on the ground (7%). Many partners also cite other challenges (18%) e.g. more time and effort for coordination is needed, slower pace of project implementation when working with many partners.

Value of partnership

Partners were also questioned on the value partnerships. The survey showed that partners consider partnerships valuable as it improves access to international knowledge and networks (63%), they valued working with new partners (63%), knowledge and innovations get disseminated (26), increased opportunities for influencing policy at local levels (56%) and helps in enriching their education and training offerings (56%).

The programme planned to organize a webinar to discuss key findings of the survey in the second quarter of 2020. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic we have postponed the webinar to later this the year.

Find the full report ‘DUPC2 partnership Survey February 2020 ‘Working in partnership – practices and experiences from your DUPC2-supported project’ here

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