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Proximity matters – employ a dedicated local project manager


Proximity matters – employ a dedicated local project manager

Proximity matters – employ a dedicated local project manager

Posted on September 30, 2019 by Karina de Souza

Authoring Organizations: Pacific Institute
Consulting Organizations: 2030 Water Resources Group
Anheuser-Busch InBev
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
PVH Corp
Universal: No
Applicable Phases: Act
Last Updated Jun 20, 2024


A dedicated person in charge of planning and executing the project is a benefit when communicating between partners, as one person (and team) stays responsible for the work at all stages.


Partners may struggle to coordinate basic project management, even with one partner acting as secretariat. However, a local and independently sourced project manager can quickly react to challenges and changes within a project, and arbitrate between partners if necessary. Appointing a local project manager can also help avoid duplication of efforts in the case of poor project governance oversight or communication.


  • A trusted person filling the project manager role will help to facilitate working relationships between partners.
  • A locally placed person allows more work to be done in-person, especially in project sites that are remote from the secretariat headquarters.
  • Consider the project manager role an important project set-up cost, allowing the partnership avoid overextending one partner in an attempt to save resources.
  • An independently sourced project manager or consultant funded by all partners is preferable. The project manager’s independence helps ensure better working relationships, and facilitates negotiations in the event of a disagreement.
  • A local project manager can assist with planning, executing, and completing the project. They can help maintain project governance, build work plans, track the financial budget, support sub-committees for different tasks, and oversee the whole project as a coherent piece of work.


In the Chambeshi Water Security Partnership (CWSP) in Zambia, three major conveners –  the Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA), OLAM, and GIZ – invested much  effort, time, and money to initiate the partnership. Establishing the partnership involved support and many visits from GIZ’s IWaSP team  based in Lusaka. With resources spread so thinly, in the absence of a local project manager, trips to Chambeshi catchment could only occur once a month. Now, the Chambeshi partnership has been strengthened by the experiences of stakeholders from the Itawa Springs Protection Partnership in Ndola, Zambia. The Chambeshi partnership has worked hard to make the partnership inclusive. However, each sector wants to work at a different speed – coordinating different sectors requires strategic and bilateral support, which takes time. A local dedicated project manager was the best way to build support and capacity, providing oversight of the partnership and its objectives.

Projects that have validated this Lesson

Based in north-east Zambia, the Chambeshi Water Security Partnership (CWSP) was created in 2017 to ensure continued sound water management in the region while agricultural activities are intensifying. The partnership aims to ensure that water resources are governed, protected, and … Learn More

To strengthen multi-stakeholder collaboration to safeguard Lusaka's water resources while enhancing the sustainable and timely access to water and sanitation for all." Cooperation is crucial if the complex issue of water security is to be addressed sustainably. Water security is … Learn More

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