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Create sustainable partnerships by supporting existing governance structures


Create sustainable partnerships by supporting existing governance structures

Create sustainable partnerships by supporting existing governance structures

Posted on August 22, 2019 by Karina de Souza

Authoring Organizations: Pacific Institute
Consulting Organizations: 2030 Water Resources Group
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
Universal: No
Applicable Phases: Assess
Last Updated May 20, 2024


Partnerships can be seen as short-term catalysts for the establishment of long-term water stewardship institutions. Often, partnerships begin when stakeholders affected by water issues in a catchment or site decide to work together to address risks, threats, and opportunities. Upon initiating a new partnership, consider its long-term institutional home. Supporting an existing institutional structure – such as a catchment management agency or water user association – may simplify the transition from partnership to sustainable institution.


Misalignment between partners and existing institutional structures can cause confusion and duplication of resources and energy. For instance, a partnership structure that competes with the mandate of the water users association will weaken the partnership’s effectiveness or purpose. Instead, the partnership should support the existing relevant institutional structures in their mandates. Partnerships that support existing organizations will have the opportunity to amplify their message while effectively implementing long-term change.


  • Consider the broader governance context: project design needs to be aligned with municipal or local government planning and implementation processes. Partners should remain cognisant of the potential impacts of political changes on the pace and outcome of the project.
  • Where possible, alignment should consider existing institutional structures to avoid creating confusion or duplication in internal communication between partners.


The South African Strategic Water Partners Network (SWPN) is a coordination platform between the South African private sector, government, and civil society organisations. Comprising 30 core partners and 22 additional participant organisations, the Network was instituted to address the country’s 17% water supply deficit by 2030. The Network is co-chaired by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and is acknowledged as an identified instrument of the National Water Resource Strategy for South Africa. The Network promotes sustainability by  supporting existing water resources management institutions, particularly as it is anchored in a national government mandate.

Projects that have validated this Lesson

None found.

This lesson learned reflects the beliefs and experiences of the author, not necessarily the Pacific Institute, CEO Water Mandate, or UN Global Compact.