From the two years of experience of the PfRR in South Sudan, we have learned that determining priorities “in-house” within international and local communities is a key first step for these two communities to then engage in meaningful dialogue around their collaboration. Our learning related to facilitating this process of coordination and multi-stakeholder collaboration can be summed up in the following three slogans:
“Community First, But Not Alone.” People are resilient. Communities are already committed to the journey of self-reliance, but they need technical and material assistance, which may come from the outside.
“Go with the Grain.” The first issue of concern is social cohesion among the people, institutions, and systems that comprise each community, as well as the relationship between them. These issues should be approached with a conflict sensitivity lens and an understanding of the inner logic of how each operates to work with and reinforce them to strengthen household and community resilience. Aside from significant progress in determining processes and structures that can advance geographically based partnerships, other important learning focuses on social cohesion and its relationship with resilience.
“It Takes Two Hands to Clap.” The international and local community actors are both communities, each with their own internal structures, processes, and logics. Coordination can be strengthened separately, and then a space created for meaningful interaction across these communities. Investing in a sufficient level of coherence and connectivity at the PA level is necessary for the Partnership Approach to be effective, and for accelerated convergence to deliver the intended results of the PfRR. While still in its early days, the building block framework currently under development among PfRR partners offers exciting potential to build this vertical and horizontal coherence among local actors in the PAs, among the international community, and between the two.
The high-level conclusions of this case study follow:
- In fragile states, with recurrent crises and civil insecurity, resilience capacities still exist that can, while weakened, be identified, assessed, and strengthened.
- Social cohesion is critical to understand and integrate into fragile states as a foundation to build community-led resilience programming.
- When it comes to the international and local communities, there is a need for “two hands clapping” to ensure that locally identified needs, priorities, and resources are respected and incorporated into inclusive resilience programming.
- Backbone support to the Partnership—in terms of technical leadership—must be seen as an honest broker to play its facilitative role.
- While “community first” has to be the starting point, the Partnership is not “community alone” but a collaboration of partners between the international and local communities.
- The agent of resilience programming is a “person within community”.
- A strong, flexible, easy-to-explain, and periodically reviewed methodological approach for PfRR is necessary.
- By managing community expectations from the outset, particularly with regard to resources that might become available through the Partnership, much confusion can be avoided.
- In a fragile state focusing on resilience is a means to achieve greater impacts of programming by building resilience capacities and agency.