Meaningful Partnerships for Impact

Since 2016, at Transformative Solutions, we have been working with Caribou Space on the UK Space Agency’s International Partnerships Programme (IPP) to provide specialist M&E including one-to-one advice and training to 30+ projects on developing and implementing M&E systems for each individual project, and conducting programme level processes for effective impact reporting.

At the end of 2019, via our partnership with Caribou Space, we conducted a midline evaluation of progress made across the project portfolio to date, and documented substantial learning about how to improve the implementation of the programme in the future. This post reflects on key themes highlighted by the midline evaluation, previously shared with grantees and in the IPP Midline Evaluation.

Partnerships are at the centre of IPP, and while the challenges of working in partnership are not unique to the programme, over the last 3 years there has been substantial learning about how to improve their functioning across all IPP projects.

Meaningful partnerships are based on a recognition of mutual benefit through working and learning together, and active engagement throughout the project. While having the right partners helps open doors in-country, when partnerships are reduced to sporadic engagement and consultation it misses the potential benefits each partner brings to the project.

While IPP’s partnership model is a strength, there’s room for projects to enhance partner relationships and understanding. This involves dedicating time to build partnerships, grasp the local context, comprehend proposed technology, and jointly design the project. Additionally, it’s essential to identify suitable partners who can facilitate in-country access and clearly define contributions from all parties, fostering accountability beyond financial aspects.

Many projects have found that consistent engagement, rather than sporadic activity, is crucial during implementation. This often involves a physical presence in the country, either through a strong local partner or a dedicated project manager. They serve as project champions, engage with end users, and oversee local activities. While in-person management may pose challenges currently, projects must plan for ongoing engagement with key stakeholders in the long term. Hosting regular events, such as annual learning gatherings, brings everyone together to review expectations, progress, and future plans. Additionally, it helps to identify key short- and long-term events, such as elections, seasonal weather patterns, or industry events, that may impact project planning.

For projects to have a sustained impact in the countries where they are working, it will be essential that they actively consider how they cultivate, and maintain their partnerships.

For more insights see the IPP Midline Evaluation Case Study (2019)  and the IPP Three Year Review (2018).

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