One of ISSAT’s member countries sent a new staff member to manage their SSR assistance programme in a post-conflict African country. Like many programme managers, he’s new to SSR and to the international development game. One thing he’s been battling with is putting into practice the principle of ‘international donor co-ordination’ in the field. He’s not sure how open to be with his colleagues in other donor programmes supporting SSR, not sure whether the problems he’s facing are shared by his colleagues in other embassies or projects, not sure whether he’s met all the international actors involved in supporting SSR, not sure that he’s being invited to all the relevant meetings. He sometimes gets conflicting instructions from his Capital: some days, he’s told to make sure he is coordinating with donor X, and some days he’s told to make sure that his own country’s flag is clearly planted over a certain area of SSR support, to establish his country’s reputation as the ‘lead donor’ irrespective of what his colleagues in other donor-funded SSR support programmes are doing. His predicament inspired this list of very simple tips for field staff engaged in supporting SSR programmes:
Ten Tips to Improve International Donor Coordination, for SSR Donor Personnel in the Field:
1. Attend all donor (international cooperation partner) coordination meetings, no matter how dull or in what language the meeting is held (take along a translator if necessary).
2. Participate actively in international coordination meetings when appropriate, and use meetings to share information about your strategic objectives and the programmes and activities you support.
3. Publish and distribute regular reports about the progress of your programme and the activities you support. Distribute reports to all colleagues in the international community, not only to your headquarters and the national actors.
4.Respond to all correspondence from other donor/international partners.
5.Agree to meet all assessment and review teams sent by other international partners to the country in which you work. (You will want your international colleagues to do the same for you, some day).
6.Use the local media (in the country in which you work) to share information about your strategy and the activities you support. Both national and international actors receive local media.
7.Ask other international actors to review and to make inputs into the design of your programme; and take their views seriously; as you do with the views of national actors.
8.When identifying other international actors with whom to build relationships, remember to consider non-OECD countries, international NGO’s, International Financial Institutions, and multilateral bodies including regional organisations. Check with your local counterparts which other international actors they meet and work with.
9.Insist that all international actors engage meaningfully, regularly and openly with the national SSR actors, and set a good example by doing this yourself.
10.Support and encourage your Capital to improve their coordination with other donor capitals too, so that improved coordination does not only happen in the field. Share information generously with colleagues in your Capital.
What other suggestions could help improve donor co-ordination in the field, in practice ?