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Breaking the Hourglass: Partnerships in Remote Management Settings – The Cases of Syria and Iraqi Kurdistan

2015 — By Kimberly Howe, Elizabeth Stites and Danya Chudacoff

This study set out to examine partnerships between international and local organizations engaging in humanitarian action in remote management and insecure settings. The study was motivated by the lack of systematic research in areas where international organizations have limited access due to insecurity or lack of permission from host governments. While most large international organizations have developed guidelines around partnerships, these partnership approaches tend to be designed for development contexts or when humanitarian space is accessible to outsiders.

We used the case of northern Syria, specifically focusing on cross-border assistance from Turkey, and complemented this study with a historical review of Iraqi Kurdistan during and after the US-led Operation Provide Comfort in the early 1990s. The objective of this research was to improve the evidence base on how international organizations could most effectively partner with local organizations in remote management settings.

We pursued four specific areas of inquiry in order to fulfill this objective:

i) How do international organizations identify local partners?

ii) How do international organizations assess and build the capacity of these partners?

iii) How are monitoring, evaluation, accountability, and learning (MEAL) conducted in these settings?

iv) How do local partners prepare for eventual donor withdrawal?