How Oxfam partners with government institutions to create transformational change

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In Rwanda, without good relations with government institutions at different levels, it would be impossible to operate and consequently have any impact on the poorest communities. This paper sheds light on how the Oxfam in Rwanda programme works with government institutions, highlighting some of the challenges as well as some key successes in building and maintaining good relationships. font-size: 10pt
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   OXFAM LEARNING PAPER - MAY 2016 www.oxfam.org  Various partners and Oxfam met for a training in December 2015. Partners on the picture include: Women Leaders from the National Women Council from Eastern province, the Ministry of Justice and GLIHD 1  staff. Photo credit: Oxfam. HOW OXFAM PARTNERS WITH GOVERNMENT INSTITUTIONS TO CREATE TRANSFORMATIONAL CHANGE My experience in Rwanda  –  by Théoneste Ndababonye In Rwanda, without good relations with government institutions at different levels, it would be impossible to operate and consequently have any impact on the poorest communities. This paper sheds light on how the Oxfam in Rwanda programme works with government institutions, highlighting some of the challenges as well as some key successes in building and maintaining good relationships.  2  ABOUT THE AUTHOR Théoneste holds a master’s degree in project management and has  nine years of experience in project management and monitoring and evaluation. He is currently Oxfam’s MEAL (Monitoring, Evaluation,  Accountability and Learning) Coordinator in Rwanda. He has extensive experience working with different partners and his main responsibilities include partner selection, assessment, reviews and reassessment, enabling Oxfam to work well in partnership and ensure programme quality and effectiveness. PARTNERING FOR IMPACT SERIES To do the work it does, Oxfam works closely with partners at all stages of the programme, in all kind of contexts: humanitarian, influencing, development, etc. But what does it mean for our staff? Each day brings new challenges and opportunities, so how do they do it? Following a reflective and productive writeshop, 2  this Partnering for Impact series was developed to share and explore learning from experienced practitioners about what it takes to ‘ work well in partnership ’ .   3 1 INTRODUCTION In the development sector, it is crucial to have good partnerships and maintain good relations with key players and stakeholders to ensure that collective efforts achieve common goals. This is particularly true for government agencies. In Rwanda, without good relations with government institutions at different levels, it would be impossible to operate and consequently have any impact on the poorest communities. The Oxfam Rwanda Programme, therefore, works closely with the government through different strategic channels at both central and local level. In what follows, I will shed light on how the programme works with government institutions, highlighting some of the challenges as well as some key successes in building and maintaining good relationships. In particular, I will focus on the positive effect good relationships at local level can have on the relationship with central government 2 WHY DOES OXFAM PARTNER WITH THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT? There are several reasons why we work with government: ã   Legitimacy and accountability:  It is the government that shapes the legal framework in which international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), such as Oxfam, operate. To that effect, the government issues an Annual Registration Certificate for INGOs based on an evaluation of annual reports and action plans of programme interventions, as well as recommendation letters received from local government representatives. ã   Influencing:  Engaging with government creates opportunities for Oxfam to contribute to and influence the government’s long -term strategic plans, such as Rwanda Vision 2020 and the Rwanda Economic Development and Poverty Strategy, as well as other government policies. ã   Effectiveness:  Working in collaboration with government ensures effective coordination and contribution to the achievement of development plans. ã   Reach and scale:  Working with government allows for effective scale- up and smooth replication of Oxfam’s successful models and approaches.  4 ã   Partnership and visibility:  Building relationships with government bodies, at both national and local level, increases and maintains good working relations and makes Oxfam visible to all implementation areas. In the Rwanda Programme we have found that partnering with government, especially at district level, is an effective way of bringing about changes on a large scale, by helping districts to develop and achieve their performance plans, as well influencing policies that allow our target beneficiaries to enjoy their rights and to participate in decision-making. WHO IS OXFAM PARTNERING WITH? The Oxfam Rwanda Programme partners with the government through five central ministries, and several government institutions, in ten districts, as well as other government bodies and authorities.  At the central level, the Oxfam Rwanda Programme has signed memoranda of understanding with ministries and other government bodies. These include the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Gender and Promotion of Family, the Ministry of Disaster Management, the Ministry of Local Government, and the Ministry of Justice. Oxfam staff are members of several steering committees at ministry level in which thematic priorities and plans are discussed. These staff participators provide technical support and, through their expertise, can influence policies, for example: W ithin the National Women’s Council at the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, Oxfam’s role is to: ã  S trengthen capacity building on women’s economic and social rights (including political rights, participation in decision making, leadership training). ã  S upport their key events (including ‘GBV 16 Days’, International Rural Women’s Days, International Women’s Day, etc .). W ithin the Media High Council, Oxfam’s role is to:   ã  Train media practit ioners on women’s rights . ã  D ocument women’s rights violations and report them, (for example through media coverage of Oxfam key events, media talk shows, etc.). Within the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAGRI): ã  Examples of programmes and policies to which Oxfam has contributed are use of land, the crop intensification programme, and the horticulture value chain policy. ã  Oxfam Rwanda Programme Conduct Value chain conducts research  jointly with the National Agricultural Export Board to improve
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