How can service delivery be effective in conflict-affected environments? This report for the International Rescue Committee (IRC), UK analyses the Ushirika/GBV partnership programmes in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It compares the IRC approach with five other organisations working in the country.
The wars in the DRC have resulted in the breakdown of already poor state services and infrastructure, deterioration of economic life, and the creation of new needs. IRC’s programmes aim to improve the health and food security of war affected people, and address some of the horrific problems arising from extreme gender-based violence. Their Ushirika/GBV partnership programmes in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) use umbrella grants to support local partners. IRC’s approach differs from the other five organisations through their focus on capacity building for service delivery as a development end in its own right. The report finds that:
- Capacity building makes it possible to integrate relief, rehabilitation, and development.
- The programmes have improved access and inclusion of extremely vulnerable groups and built more sustainable service delivery by local organisations.
- It is necessary to combine tight management control with capacity building. The degree of success of capacity building depends on the ability of the supporting organization to establish a dialogue that both supports the aspirations of local partner organisations, while making rigorous demands on them based on mutual agreements reached. Both the dialogue and the demands can be established through adapting programme management, supervision, field visits, and training.
- Local partners rarely fully understand capacity building approaches immediately. Many partner organisations find requirements and tools daunting to apply, particularly at the beginning of the partnership.
- Capacity building for service delivery in chronic crises requires capacity building at all levels of the aid system. Supporting organisations need to focus on their own capacity, as well as local partners.
- Donors deeply influence the activities of the supporting organisation they sponsor. The rules and regulations of OFDA and OTI, for example, strongly determined capacity building activities.
- Capacity building can integrate relief, rehabilitation and development, but is not a substitute for peace building. It takes time and effort to build the internal capacity in the supporting organisation.
Effects also depend on the strength of civil society, donor support, and the conflict context. Donors need to be flexible in funding arrangements, have good cooperation with the national government, and use approaches that prevent the fragmentation of service delivery systems (e.g., sector-wide evaluations). In addition, donors should:
- Foster upward accountability in partners through evaluation, monitoring, local project committees, and field visits.
- Mainstream capacity building for service delivery in their intervention strategies, and co-ordinate approaches to improve service delivery with governments and other donors.
- Foster cooperation among the different supporting organisations they fund on evaluating different approaches, and developing joint strategies, standards, and procedures.
- Assess how far they can integrate work with international supporting organisations in policy making and aiding the peace process.
- Develop options for responding to programming problems of the supporting organisations due to insecurity (for example, with flexible intermediate- and long-term funding arrangements and establishing long-term organisational partnerships). This will improve responses to changing conflict conditions.