Locally-Led Development: Moving the Agenda Forward

by Kyra Buchko and Alyson Lyons

The resounding call for locally-led development by USAID Administrator Samantha Power resonated deeply with us at PartnersGlobal. In her speech from May 2022, Administrator Power reiterated USAID’s commitment to locally-led development as an approach that “prioritizes and elevates the roles of organizations, institutions, and people of the countries we serve” and is “the key to delivering the kind of results that will be visible years and years in the future, long after our programs have wound down.” At PartnersGlobal, we couldn’t agree more. 

For more than three decades, our mission and vision for a more peaceful and prosperous world has centered on and assumes a preeminent role of local leadership and locally-led problem-solving. It is the reason we founded The Partners Network of 20+ local, independently operated nonprofits based in Central and Eastern Europe, the Americas, Africa, and the Middle East. We all share what we call The Partners Way – a collective commitment to locally driven development that brings together people, communities, and institutions to jointly reach decisions and take action that build peace and transform conflict. At its core, The Partners Way adheres to the values of inclusion, accountability, resiliency, justice, and nonviolence.  In practice, we focus on process guided by principles of locally-led development and centered on the role of local leadership – no matter the issue, topic, or thematic area.

As we begin to feel a real shift across the international donor community, and specifically US government agencies, to adopt a more locally-led development agenda, we are optimistic and hopeful about the next chapter of development assistance. And since we’ve been doing locally-led development for some time now, we’d like to share a few insights from our experience.

Shift Your Mindset to Shift the Power

The first step toward embracing locally-led development is to shift your mindset from one dominated by Western values and priorities to one guided by community-driven needs. The movement to decolonize aid is intricately connected with this idea. The purpose of decolonizing aid is to transform unequal power structures rooted in colonial constructs that prioritize Global North mandates and perspectives, impacting resource allocation and perpetuating discriminatory norms and practices in the international aid system.

So how do we shift our mindsets? First, we must start by asking questions and listening actively to local organizations and partners about THEIR priorities and needs. While it may sound easy, active listening is one of the hardest soft skills to do effectively because it requires that you pay attention, put aside judgment, and withhold opinions or criticisms. Practice, practice, practice active listening and ask for feedback from partners.

Second, we need to reimagine our relationship to our partners by engaging local leaders as peers and colleagues instead of ‘primes and subs’ to our programs. In this way, we can reorient ourselves to learning from each other, valuing everyone’s inputs and experiences. Further, we need to facilitate diverse and equitable participation and involvement in decision making. This means reaching out to amplify and integrate the voices of women, youth, and indigenous communities and peoples to ensure there is meaningful consultation, as detailed in the Global Fragility Act Coalition’s recommendations on local consultation processes. For project-based collaboration, it is critically important to engage all partners consistently and equitably before the program begins, throughout implementation, and well beyond the project’s end date. 

Third, let’s be intentional about the language we use when communicating to donors, partners, and peers. Language matters. At Partners, we seek informal and formal input from our partners about the optics and impressions created by the language we use in proposals, discussions with peers, and other communications.  This helps ensure that our messaging about our work and our values – including how we talk about local leadership – resonates with and is authentic to local perspectives. And it requires that any new or improved terminology and messaging are translated accurately in local languages and placed into appropriate context.

Progress through Partnership, not Programs

At the end of the day, trust is built and strengthened when we focus on partnership over projects. And trust is a necessary prerequisite for sustaining a locally-led development agenda. Partnership transcends transactional cooperation based on specific activities and forms the basis for continued connection well past the end of a project.  Not only do we work toward sustainability of project results and impact, but we view durable and resilient organizational and personal relationships as an ongoing benefit for all parties. 

One way to build and maintain trust over time is to collectively design your process for collaboration rather than focus on specific project activities or objectives. The end goal is important, but how you get there matters more in the long run. Ask your partners HOW they view and approach collaboration. What is important to them in terms of process? Where is collaboration needed and not needed? How can systems for program implementation be set up that encourage and foster inclusive participation and input? The emphasis on collaborative process helps to decentralize power and facilitates shared responsibility. It places decision-making more equitably in the hands of the local partners and communities impacted by a development or peacebuilding program.

The locally-led development agenda calls on all of us to be far more ambitious in expanding who we work with, and changing how we work so that collectively we drive the sustainable, lasting change that we all seek. This is how we at PartnersGlobal will continue to support local leadership to inspire and guide communities to peacefully manage change.

by Roselie Vasquez Yetter and Alyson Lyons

Civil society organizations come together to form networks and coalitions for a variety of reasons – maybe they are looking to maximize impact by collectively advocating on a particular issue or they are interested in sharing resources and skills, or simply just want to learn from one another. While it is one thing to form a network, it is quite another to maintain its existence during times of uncertainty and dynamic shifts to the funding and operating environments.

Our own Partners Network story is one of resiliency and renewal. Over the years, the needs of our network have shifted, and in 2020 we were faced with the challenge to adapt and thrive or remain static and decline. We called upon the PeaceNexus Foundation to facilitate a network strengthening process that forced us to come to terms with some major questions about who we are as a network and why we are together. Reimagining our purpose opened our minds to how we want to work together and resulted in new structures for leadership, collaboration, and communication.   It also opened our eyes to aspects of our structural and financial models that were in need of a bit of a renovation and upgrade.

One of the main aspects of network resiliency is the ability to leverage peer networks for mutual sharing and learning. Connectedness, unsurprisingly, is one of the factors in our ResiliencyPlus Framework that we expand upon regularly.  Our 32 years as a network brings the awareness that being in a network isn’t enough – the intentionality of the purpose for joining and engaging is the key to activating the potential of the network and making participation worthwhile. 

Recently together with the PeaceNexus Foundation, we co-facilitated a learning opportunity with peers from other civil society peace and development networks to share our own story and collect insights from others. The result was a rich and honest exchange of the major challenges, lessons, and adaptations networks are making to not only survive, but thrive in our ever-changing environment. Below are two main outcomes of the exchange.

Distributive leadership instead of command and control

Let’s face it. The age of the rigid, hierarchical leadership structure is a thing of the past. While the command and control model worked primarily to generate resources for a network, today these funding pools are no longer as widely available as they were fifteen years ago. Command and control style of centralized leadership also creates layers of bureaucracy, stifling collaboration and creating unequal power dynamics amongst network members that serve to create competition rather than build trust and collaboration.

Enter the distributive leadership model. Distributive leadership is a shared management model that decentralizes leadership at the top and disperses decision making from one individual to a collective group or groups. Distributive leadership empowers members who, under more centralized structures, may not have an opportunity to step into a leadership role – upending deeply rooted power structures and impacting resource allocation. The Partners Network adopted a distributed leadership model as a result of our self-evaluation process.  This created new leadership pathways for members to step into decision-making roles, such as the Young Professionals Group. Today, the YPG is made up of mid-level professionals and is responsible for organizing network wide trainings on topics of interest, such as a skill like mediation or thematic area like conflict transformation.

There are still situations where command and control might be more effective, such as with crisis management. However, being able to implement this form of leadership for specific circumstances rather than employing it as the overarching model may be more effective for the challenges of today. Leadership does not need to reside at the top. It can emerge at all levels of an organization if the right leadership model is in place.    

Decentralized governance structure in the virtual space

Closely related to the leadership model is a network’s governance structure, which tells us how a network organizes and regulates itself. Traditionally, civil society networks adopted formal governance structures and practices that set up rigid policies, agreed upon business development goals, and membership parameters. But does this approach still make sense as we operate more and more in the virtual space? Networks always had some aspect of online operations, but the pandemic forced the accelerated adoption of practices that generally were in person such as annual conferences or regional meetings. And it doesn’t look like we will be turning back. Combined with the decline in general support funds, maintaining a network today falls heavily on the shoulders of its members. More often than not, member-driven administrative and operational roles are voluntary and often struggle to remain at the top of the priority list.

From our own experience and those shared at the learning event, many networks are adapting to their new virtual reality and transitioning from more formal governance structures to more flexible, decentralized ones. Decentralized governance allows for new modes of collaboration, communication, and coordination to evolve organically. It also levels the playing field and invites input from diverse voices, creating a more equitable and inclusive network culture. For example, our own decentralization process inadvertently led to strengthened ties amongst network members located in the same region. We reflected on the expression of regional sub-network coordination and decided to lean in. This was achieved by creating a Liaison Group comprised of regional representatives that serve as a voice for members in each region when needing to make decisions on issues and opportunities that affect the entire network. This new process has created space for more authentic conversations that take cultural sensitivities and norms into consideration in a more intentional and organic way.

The future of networks

If there is one thing that most analysts agree on, it’s that we will never go back 100% to our pre-pandemic reality. Dynamics will continue to shift, impacting how we as civil society actors come together. And we need to continue to find ways to join forces and collaborate. Networks are a conduit of civil society resiliency. We must adapt to not just survive but thrive.  Resilient networks not only weather crises – they emerge stronger and more unified.  Inter-organizational network sharing and strategizing is an even more effective determinant of resilient network outcomes.  What we all agreed during our learning and sharing session was that each of the networks represented was able to recover from sudden crises that we encountered.  What we realized was that more important than recovery is the need to learn to develop the ability to make use of the opportunities brought on by a crisis.  By doing so, we can turn the obstacle into an opportunity for growth and learning.  In a network, that growth can be amplified and magnified. It’s our responsibility to our members to help transform the deflection of the shock to an embrace of the potential for positive change in a world of endless disruption.

by Maliza Bonane of PartnersGlobal and Hadiza Usman of Partners West Africa Nigeria (aka Rule of Law and Empowerment Initiative)

In Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT), more than 80% of the prison population is currently awaiting trial. Many detainees are held in overcrowded pre-trial custodial facilities for extended periods of time, with little to no provisions or access to legal counsel. This issue is not unique to the FCT. Custodial center overcrowding is an issue throughout the country. In 2004, a Police Duty Solicitor Scheme (PDSS) was developed by the Open Society Justice Initiative in collaboration with the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria (LACON) and the National Police Force (NPF) and piloted in several states across the country. This program placed young lawyers in police stations as part of their compulsory national service and tasked them with providing legal services to pretrial detainees in order to reduce detention rates. However, the FCT was not part of this program and those stuck in pre-trial detention found themselves in a situation with seemingly no solution.   

Partnership and Persistence

Things changed in 2021, when the Reforming Pre-Trial Detention in Nigeria (RPDN) project began implementing the PDSS for the first time in the FCT. The RPDN is a project of PartnersGlobal and is carried out in partnership with Partners West Africa – Nigeria (PWAN), Network of University Legal Aid Institutions Nigeria (NULAI), and New-Rule LLC. The goal of the program is to uphold the principles of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) – a law that guarantees detainees speedy trials, humane treatment, and other human rights. As such, partners work to institutionalize a system of detainee registration, representation, and processing that demonstrates rule of law, respect for human rights, and duty of care for victims, the accused, and their families in the Federal Capital Territory.  

RPDN project partner PWAN worked in collaboration with LACON, NPF and the Nigeria Correctional Services (NCoS) to integrate resident pro bono lawyers in 10 different police stations in the FTC – Nyanya, Karmo, Gwagwalada, Garki, Utako, Wuse, Gwarimpa, Jikwoyi, Mabuchi, and Kubwa. The lawyers are responsible for verifying and reinforcing the ACJA detention time limits and conditions. They also assist the first interview of the detainee with the police officer or file bail applications on behalf of detainees. 

Impact of PDSS in the FTC 

The free legal services provided as part of the PDSS are making a significant difference in preventing unlawful detentions and enacting releases before detainees are transferred to the custodial centers. Since the project started in April 2021, a total of 488 detainees had their first interview with PDSS lawyers, 339 were released on bail, and 75 were released outside of the bail process. In the latter case, the lawyers used conflict resolution skills to engage in dialogue with the police and explain the principles of ACJA, which lead to the releases before suspects formally enter the system. The availability of free legal services at the primary stage allowed the service to be at the disposable of any detainee who wishes to use it.  

Furthermore, police officers increasingly refer cases to the lawyers and grant them access to initial interviews with detainees.  According to, a Divisional Police Officer currently based in Garki Police station, the presence of the lawyer has reduced the number of detainees that stay above 48 hours in the police station.  

“The scheme has positively aided me in my duties of checking the cell daily since I receive feedback as to the condition of the cell from the duty solicitor [lawyer] and my presence has boosted the public confidence in the police station and has reduced litigation against the police from the general public.” 

The Seeds of Change

Justice actors in the FCT have taken notice of the impacts of the Police Duty Solicitor Scheme under the RPDN project and are eager to sustain them. Going forward, the Administrative Criminal Justice Monitoring Committee (ACJMC), an interagency government body that oversees the implementation of the ACJA in the FCT, recently made a commitment to deploy lawyers at ten additional police stations under the direction of RPDN project partner PWAN. The ACJMC is also considering setting up telephone call centers of pro bono lawyers that respond to requests for detainees outside of the PDSS stations. Additionally, the police made a commitment to continue its collaboration with the National Youth Service Corp to receive lawyers beyond the RPDN program to ensure lawyers are assigned to police stations for continuous legal services. 

Beyond reducing the number of detainees in custodial centers, RPDN’s PDSS activity fortifies the sustainability of our pre-trial services goal. Building on this past experience, PartnersGlobal is looking forward to implementing the activity for another year to ensure rule of law and respect for human rights to more victims, accused, and their families in the FCT.  

Rasha Abdel Latif, Director of MENA and Civil Society Strengthening at PartnersGlobal, was recently appointed as a member on the Board of Directors at Amnesty International – USA (AIUSA). We could not think of a more deserving person to step into this leadership role at one of the most well-established and well-respected human rights organizations. In this leadership role, Rasha will contribute to the development of a clear vision for AIUSA and provide stewardship for the organization, establishing appropriate and constructive working relationships with staff and ensures the financial health of the organization through fiscal oversight and fundraising.

Rasha brings nearly seventeen years of experience to this leadership role, working in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region with local and international organizations and activists to amplify citizen voices, increase participation in decision making processes, advocate for human rights, and create innovative solutions to social problems. Throughout her career, Rasha led and coordinated many local and national human rights campaigns and initiatives.

“I strive every day to be a catalyst for change and am driven by making a difference through advocating for human rights issues and for safe environments for women, youth, human rights activists, and marginalized communities.” – Rasha Abdel Latif

Rasha is Arab-American and was born and raised in Jordan. She has Palestinian roots and a passion for global citizenship. Rasha started her journey with The Partners Network in 2009, working at PartnersJordan for eight years. In 2019, she joined PartnersGlobal as the Director for MENA and Civil Society Strengthening where she oversees a portfolio of regional programs focused on social accountability, governance, transparency, anti-corruption, and protecting and defending civic space. Based in Washington DC, Rasha is an active member of the Arab American community and loves the opportunity to showcase and share her cultural heritage and customs with others. You can follow Rasha on Twitter at @RashaAbdelLatif.

At PartnersGlobal, we believe ordinary citizens have a right and a role to shape the decisions and outcomes that affect them. We know that building a resilient civil society is essential to achieving inclusive, just, and prosperous societies based on democratic principles that respect the rights of all citizens. That’s why we work in service of local leaders and organizations to bring about peaceful change to their communities. Because locally led change leads to more sustainable outcomes. And a resilient civil society is a catalyst for change.

As the humanitarian crisis unfolds in Ukraine, now is the time to have a conversation about global peace and peacebuilding. The FrameWorks Institute, Alliance for Peacebuilding, and PartnersGlobal joined forces to deliver evidence-based recommendations for more effective narrative strategies that build public understanding and support for peacebuilding. The new brief includes:

  • Existing mindsets around peacebuilding
  • Research-based framing recommendations
  • Ideas for applying these frames in discourse & debate

The ongoing work of building bridges across divides must continue if we hope to create a world where conflicts are addressed without resorting to violence. Shifting the narrative of peacebuilding won’t happen overnight. But aligning messaging and consistency within the peacebuilding field will help the public and policymakers better understand what peacebuilding looks like in practice and why it is a productive mindset and policy option. | For access to the full report, please click HERE or read below:

FWI-31-peacebuilding-project-brief-v2b

During March, we celebrated the powerful and resilient women who have strived to make changes for the sake of making an equal and fulfilling space for all of us. Women have been the backbone of many political, economic, and social movements. They have been the faces and voices that have made us look inward and ask ourselves, “Are we the best of who we can be?” As we leave March 2022 behind us please take a moment to reflect on this question. And check out all of the ways we celebrate women in peacebuilding and civil society resiliency spaces.

Resilient Conversations

Resilient Conversations is a forthcoming podcast organized and hosted by PartnersGlobal that explores different facets of individual, organizational, sectoral, and systemic resiliency. The short video series above includes clips from different episodes. Featured guests on the podcast will include our own staff like Co-Executive Directors Roselie Vasquez Yetter and Kyra Buchko; ResiliencyPlus colleagues and coaches Alexa Brand, Olivia Baciu, and Susan Njambi Odongo; and civil society colleagues such as Zuza Fialova of Partners for Democratic Change Slovakia and Carole Frampton de Tscharner and Heloise Heyer of Peace Nexus Foundation.

MENA Women’s Roundtable

Recently, MENA and Civil Society Strengthening Director Rasha Abdel Latif of PartnersGlobal sat down (virtually) with women peacebuilders and Partners Network colleagues from Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, and the US to talk about women’s role as leaders and peacebuilders in the MENA region. Enjoy this 20 minute conversation between these incredible women as they reflect on what inspires them to work in this space.

Co-Leadership Model as a Resiliency Approach

We are on our own resiliency journey at PartnersGlobal as we navigate the shifts on our operating environment. One way to shore up our resilient capital is to build in innovative leadership and operating models like co-leadership. This approach both builds in redundancies AND creates space for inclusion and diversity of thought, which contributes to more effective problem solving and organizational management. Get to know our co-Executive Directors Roselie and Kyra by watching the short video above!

Women Peacebuilders Blog Series

Below are a series of blog posts by staff and partners at PartnersGlobal that depict the real stories and impacts of various women peacebuilders across our portfolios. Enjoy!

March 22, 2022 – PartnersGlobal is pleased to join the Coalition for Racial & Ethnic Equity in Development (CREED) and sign the Pledge for Racial & Ethnic Equity (REE). PartnersGlobal joins more than 30 not-for-profit and for-profit development organizations committed to building racial and ethnic equity within international development. 

By signing the REE pledge, PartnersGloblal commits to: 

  • strengthening its commitments and accountability for racial & ethnic equity within its policies, systems, and culture; 
  • creating practical and quantifiable standards for advancing racial & ethnic equity; and 
  • working to instill racial and ethnic equity as a core principle in the development sector. 

“To be effective and create meaningful shifts, CREED’s Racial & Ethnic Equity pledge is taking a focused view to build equity by concentrating on strengthening racial and ethnic equity within United States-based organizations,” said Indira Kaur Ahluwalia, Founder/Chair of CREED and CEO of KAUR Strategies. “CREED welcomes PartnersGlobal to a learning community of like-minded organizations committed to integrating racial and ethnic equity into how we work.” 

“We encourage our global development sector colleagues to be partners in addressing racial and ethnic equity to improve and deepen the impact of our collective work. Strong democracies cannot be achieved without racial and ethnic equity. We all have a responsibility to push for meaningful change.”   – Roselie Vasquez Yetter

About CREED 

The Coalition for Racial & Ethnic Equity in Development (CREED) is a collective of international development and humanitarian assistance organizations based in the United States committed to building REE. We pledge to advance racial and ethnic diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging within our own organizations’ policies, systems, and culture in keeping with attainable and measurable goals; and work to instill REE in international development. 

Contact 

For questions about the pledge or how to sign, visit https://coalition-for-racial-and-ethnic-equity-in-development.org/  

Partners has been appointed for the three-year Regional Secretariat function of Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) in North America. GPPAC is a network of NGOs actively working on conflict prevention and peacebuilding. The network promotes multi-stakeholder collaboration and local ownership of strategies for peace and security and it also serves as a community of practice to advance new knowledge, share ideas, and convene regular reflection spaces between peers.

GPPAC is organized around regional subnetworks and we have been involved in GPPAC North America for the past three years. GPPAC North America includes very well-known and respected organizations in the peacebuilding and human rights spaces in Canada, the US, and Mexico:

  • Alliance for Peacebuilding
  • Peace and Conflict Studies Association of Canada
  • Mennonite Central Committee
  • Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative
  • Swedish Fellowship of Reconciliation (SWEFOR)
  • Servicio Internacional para la Paz (SIPAZ)
  • Servicios y Asesoría para la Paz (SERAPAZ)
  • Comisión de Apoyo a la Unidad y a la Reconciliación Comunitaria (CORECO)
  • Centro Fray Bartolomé de las Casas
  • Centro de Colaboración Cívica (CCC)
  • PartnersGlobal

For us, GPPAC North America represents a community of practice and learning created to promote new knowledge, approaches and methodologies to advance peacebuilding and peace consolidation, share ideas and experiences on concrete interventions, as well as enable spaces for reflection among peers on situational and structural issues that impact stability and peace at the regional level. In this sense, our affiliation and formal participation allow us to take better advantage of the vast experience of the members of the network to strengthen our programs and interventions and strengthen ties with organizations working on issues of peace, violence prevention and promotion of human rights in Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

Each morning, fourteen-year-old Fairouz woke up early to take the long walk to get water from a spring outside Al-Manwar, a small village surrounded by hills and green terraced fields in Ibb governorate in Yemen. After she completed 8th grade, Fairouz left school to help her family with everyday errands, such as collecting water and firewood.

“In our village, girls have to fetch water, collect firewood, or tend sheep. My father insisted that I stop going to school in order to help get water for the family… I used to get up in the morning to get water and see other girls going to school. I burst into tears seeing them going to school. I used to ask myself, ‘Why do I not do that? Why does my father not let me go to school?’”

The Roots of Community Level Conflict

Al-Manwar is located about 200 kilometers from Sana’a, on a remote clifftop at the end of a series of dilapidated roads connecting the village to the city of Jeblah. Life in Al-Manwar can be difficult for residents of the village – particularly young girls. For years, they trekked across unpaved roads to reach their school, located 1200 meters from the village. Despite this distance, many girls were able to attend school until the country-wide conflict began in 2015. The war waging across Yemen took a toll on the area’s economy and the ability of its people to access basic services. After the conflict began, the electricity that powered local water pumps stopped flowing to Al-Manwar and families started connecting a haphazard network of private pipes to the local spring.

This created tension in the community, with some unable to afford the equipment to build the pipes. In 2016, a group of young men who saw this system as unfair destroyed many of the pipes, disrupting the flow of freshwater to village residents. Since then, young girls have borne the brunt of collecting water for drinking and washing, dropping out of school in order to carry out this task. Throughout each day, girls from Al-Manwar walk more than a kilometer along the long path to the spring and carry water back to their families’ homes. Carrying the containers on their heads, these girls walk down narrow and difficult paths fraught with danger, scared of what they might encounter. Many face sexual harassment from young men when they walk alone.

After several years of conflict within the community, local residents and community leaders of Al-Manwar were desperate to find a solution to repair the social fabric, bring water back into the homes of villagers, and help the girls go back to school.

Then in 2021, local organization Al-Shaimaa Foundation, together with PartnersYemen, designed an initiative centered on community dialogue and building support for a new water system. At the heart of the initiative was the creation of a seven-member Conflict Resolution Committee that included local sheiks, authority officials, and other influential community members and whose mandate was to peacefully resolve community issues in Al-Manwar.

Employing Dialogue to Find Sustainable Solutions

An initial dialogue was facilitated by Al-Shaimaa Foundation and PartnersYemen to assist the committee in finding a solution to the water crisis. The committee proposed the establishment of a consolidated water supply network to deliver water equally to all local households. Using their enhanced dialogue and facilitation skills, the Committee was able to secure an agreement with all the relevant parties, including a man who lived near the spring and had benefitted the most from the status quo. The negotiated compromise included extending a water supply pipe to his house.

Shortly thereafter, the villagers signed a reconciliation agreement that set the terms for access to the water supply network, formed a maintenance committee for the system, and established a mechanism for dealing with any future conflicts around water management in the village.

Two weeks later, fresh water reached Al-Manwar’s village center.

Today, Fairouz is back in school and excited about the opportunities now open to her in the future. Fairouz’s new reality only became possible after the intervention of Al-Shaimaa Foundation and PartnersYemen, who helped create and then worked together with the Conflict Resolution Committee to address a set of issues that had plagued the residents of Al-Manwar since 2015. Young girls like Fairouz, who had disproportionately suffered before the project, now benefit the most from the new water system. In all, the 23 girls who had dropped out of school were able to go back and continue with their studies.

“Had water not been delivered to the village, my father would not have been convinced to send me back to school… Thank God, I have resumed classes and I go to school regularly,” Fairouz said. “Now, water is in the vicinity of our home. We no longer need to fetch water from that faraway source.”

PartnersYemen’s Work with Communities

Since 2016, PartnersYemen has set up over 90 similar community committees in 18 governorates across Yemen. These committees have served as essential links between community members and local authorities by resolving conflicts that provide more equitable access to local services. Some committees have even established their own new civil society organizations, sustainably advocating for changes at the local level.

In recent years, PartnersYemen and its local civil society partners have found that such committees – when provided with guidance and technical support for facilitation and dialogue – can play key roles in resolving conflicts, forging multiple community reconciliation agreements over resources and service delivery issues.

Partners’ local network of CSOs, of which Al-Shaimaa Foundation in Ibb is a key member, is an important local link to communities across the country. These organizations use their knowledge of local community dynamics to select the local CRC members, develop the Committee’s scopes of work, and provide guidance to help mediate reconciliation sessions with conflicting parties.

While Fairouz and her classmates have benefited greatly from this initiative, important work remains to be done both in Al-Manwar and other underdeveloped rural areas across the country that have suffered under the pressures of the conflict. By utilizing similar conflict resolution and dialogue tools, and with support from Yemeni-led civil society organizations like PartnersYemen and Al-Shaimaa, other communities may be able to work towards sustainable solutions like Ibb’s water system to strengthen their communities and provide opportunities for the most vulnerable.

This piece was co-written by Saddam Al-Dhelaa, PartnersYemen and Matt Ciesielski, PartnersGlobal. For more information on our work in the Middle East and North Africa, please visit our website HERE.

Photo Credit: Girls in School by Julien Harneis