Ribwar from Oxfam's protection team walks through the transit site in Hamam Alil. Credit: Amy Christian/ Oxfam

Being the best partner we can be

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Yoma Winder, Oxfam GB’s global adviser for partnerships and accountability, introduces why we’re celebrating the work of our partners for OGB’s 75th anniversary. 

Ribwar from Oxfam's protection team walks through the transit site in Hamam Alil. Credit: Amy Christian/ Oxfam

Ribwar from Oxfam’s protection team walks through the transit site in Hamam Alil. Credit: Amy Christian/ Oxfam

“Partnerships are “relationships”. Just like marriage and other relationships, they need revival, excitement, continuous engagement, etc, for them to survive and remain beneficial to parties involved.”  Mutinta Nketani,Compliance and Admin Officer, Oxfam Zambia.

Working with others to build strong, vibrant and sustainable civil societies is essential to achieving Oxfam’s mission to combat poverty and inequality. We are working in a fast-changing world. Fundamental shifts are taking place in the role of the nation state, relations between governments and civil society, the structure and power dynamics of the aid system, in technology and innovations.  Adapting to these changes and continuing to work for justice is a huge and daunting task.

Oxfam aims to support the voices of people living in poverty and those organizations that work directly with them – to stand alongside them, to support and build each other’s capacities, and to work towards a point where Oxfam’s support is no longer required.  It wants to see strong, self-sufficient and independent civil societies in the countries where it works and some of examples of this will be presented on this blog site for the next few weeks.

Partnership, our partners and Oxfam teams can look very different in different contexts. The breadth of our work and the myriad facets of the partners we work means each relationship must be individually tailored, so that we are all getting what we need from it.

As Oxfam GB turns 75, we recognize that we couldn’t have had the impact that we have had without our partners. That is why we are celebrating their work and sharing the challenges and opportunities of working together in this blogging take over.

How do we work?

For Oxfam, partnership is less and less about being a good donor.  We are striving for a partnership portfolio that reflects the breadth of the work we do and the ways in which it can be done.  We actively seek to partner with organizations that are agile, have new solutions to old (or new!) problems and whose work can achieve the change at scale needed to combat massive inequalities.  But we don’t discount working with partners who directly deliver services that are needed by communities. We know there are many organizations we can work with to bring about actions, policies or behaviours that will change their world for the better.

Oxfam places great emphasis on the relationship with partners in addition to the practical work that gets done.  As the inspiring quote above implies, healthy, flourishing relationships take time, energy and effort.  Within the partnerships we have we recommend that all parties to the partnership agreement stand back, on a regular basis and look at the health of the relationship they have.

Through its partnerships Oxfam seeks to provide added value to others and to learn and grow from what we learn from our partners.

We really hope that some of Oxfam’s added value will be apparent in the work of partners that is going to be showcased in the days to come, as we celebrate 75 years of working in partnership with others.

Percentage of the types of partnerships Oxfam International is engaged with.

Percentage of the types of partnerships Oxfam International is engaged with.

Author
Yoma Winder

Yoma Winder

Yoma is Oxfam GB's global adviser for partnerships and accountability. This involves working, primarily with programme-focused staff to improve Oxfam's practices when working in partnership with others; improve Oxfam's accountability to the people and communities with whom and for whom Oxfam works, and ensure that Oxfam's thinking and practice on partnership and accountability helps Oxfam to be the organisation we want to be by 2020.