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Foster trust among partners (DRAFT)


Foster trust among partners (DRAFT)

Foster trust among partners (DRAFT)

Posted on March 22, 2019 by Karina de Souza

Authoring Organizations: CEO Water Mandate
Pacific Institute
Consulting Organizations: --
Universal: Yes
Applicable Phases: Commit, Act
Last Updated Aug 11, 2019


Fostering trust among the partnership and beneficiaries is critical to the success of a partnership.


Fostering trust may require capacity building of partners: Capacity building of government institutions key but only effective when there is commitment and interest. Local governments can be a very strong coordinating and enabling partners, having a positive influence but are subject to political changes. As essential actors to work with, they often require capacitation support. This should be done in such a way as to avoid creating dependency, but in a way that ensures that there is trust within the partnership.

To build trust amongst partners, the entire partnership plan and activities must be developed collaboratively: Sustainability of the partnership depends on sufficient ownership taken by partners. Communicating the full partnership and implementation strategy before any strategy collaboration and join implementation has been done can lead to decreased ownership


Inclusion of partners from the beginning: Multi-stakeholder platforms (MSP) are something new in many countries and for many partners. At the start of the process, it is important to construct a process that is inclusive, bringing together all stakeholders in building the MSP as they get a better understanding of the project and build trust amongst each other. Use stakeholder mapping as a technique to identify and engage potential partners including a diverse mix of civil society, local government and business.

Development of partners is as important as the project content.  To foster trust in the partnership, catchment level governance requires participation from stakeholders on all levels, including site-level farms and settlements. In addition, solid working relationships with local government are crucial. Therefore, the ability to understand perspectives of diverse stakeholders is important, hence the need to build their capacity in this regard.

Fostering trust amongst partners requires local investment into relationships, which takes time: Locally based project management results in local ownership and accountability. Therefore, capacity building of the organization that is set to lead the partnership is needed from the start. External donors should only be seen in a supporting role. Developing stakeholder capacity takes time. However, it is critical to the project’s success and will continue to pay off in the long term. Invest in training and equipping partner personnel for sustainability, including capacity building in soft skills required for the partnership’s success.  A range of social skills are required including: communication; partnership broking; negotiation; facilitation. Additional technical skills may also be required depending on the nature of the partnership. Entrepreneurship and enterprise management skills are essential.

Fostering trust can take place through a number of platforms and activities. For example, creating “communities of practice” can be a good way to develop continual learning among practitioners. Building capacity of experts and communities contributes to better understanding of each other's interests and the objectives of the partnership as well as creating trust amongst partners.


At the start of the partnership, participatory mapping of water resources was undertaken which fostered: (i) better understanding of the catchment condition and environmental issues; (ii) insight into unguided and unlicensed water abstractions (iii) communication and cooperation between a range of stakeholders across subject areas including forest, water resources management and utilities. The extensive consultations with stakeholders including farmers and their communities helped articulate the clear need for improved assistance, guidance and support in partnership building, creating an appetite to collaborate. This allowed the trust for the partnership.

Projects that have claimed this Lesson

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