Partnership agreements and guidelines


Which partnership agreement? When to use the different guides and templates.

The process of coming to an agreement and the agreement itself form the foundation for a strong relationship with our partners. Both must be well suited to the purpose and nature of the collaboration and embody the partnership principles of synergy, respect, accountability and equity.

Key messages

  • Draw up all agreements with partners in accordance with WaterAid guidelines and with full participation of relevant staff. Ensure roles and responsibilities of different partners are clear, mutually understood and agreed. Pay particular attention to the mandatory sections of the partner agreement templates when negotiating the agreement with the partner.
  • If you use another partner’s or donor’s agreement template make sure these cover WaterAid’s mandatory fields. We have specific tools for projects funded by USAID.
  • A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) can be used with collaborative partners to set out the long-term vision and aims for the partnership, the value that each partner brings and how each will benefit from collaboration. An MoU includes general commitments concerning WaterAid policies but is not legally enforceable. It does not involve the transfer of funds.
  • The MoU template includes guidance for a 'light-touch' or 'full' MoU. You need to use your judgement about which is appropriate based on the nature of the partner and any joint activities, and the associated risks.
  • Use a project partnership agreement (PPA) to establish clear expectations, roles and responsibilities for specific funded projects delivered together. Include legally enforceable requirements for compliance and make clear the accountabilities of each partner. Where WaterAid is working with the same partner on different projects there may be several PPAs under the same MoU. Where necessary include specific donor requirements. The annexes to this agreement should include specific information about the policies and principles that are covered by the agreement.
  • Where possible, and if funding is secured, use multi-year partnership agreements to provide stability and a more strategic approach.
  • Use contracts with providers of construction services to specify the technical details, timing and quality of the deliverables. This template contract should be used as a guide and can be modified in line with project specific requirements, country context (including national standards and guidelines) and relevant country programme procurement policies.

Which agreement for which stakeholder?

The following definitions set out what sort of agreement is most appropriate for different stakeholders.

1. Stakeholder: any actor (individual, group or organisation) participating in a project and/or with an interest in, influence on, or impacted by a project and its outcomes. The interest, influence or impact can be positive or negative, direct or indirect.

2. Target group: Stakeholders that we ‘target’ during the project through activities (e.g. district authorities), in order to reach and benefit WASH users.

3. WASH users (sometimes referred to as ultimate or final beneficiaries): Stakeholders whom the project seeks to have a positive impact on (e.g. health centre patients, people in communities, school students). As rights holders they are key stakeholders in most projects. We do not normally sign formal partnership agreements with them but we should discuss and agree our roles, responsibilities and accountabilities to each other.

4. Project Partner: An organisation with which we are delivering a specific, time-bound project, that is funded. A project partner is typically named within a restricted funding proposal and should pass relevant due diligence and ethical checks before an agreement is signed. A project partner can simultaneously be a collaborative partner (5) but usually cannot be a service/goods provider (6) within the same project.

5. Collaborative partner: An organisation (for example, a government agency, NGO or academic institution) we are committed to working with over a longer period to achieve broad, shared objectives without a transfer of funds. A collaborative partner can also be a project partner when working together on a funded, timebound project.

6. Service/goods provider: An individual or organisation who is contracted and funded to deliver specific goods or services within a defined (usually short-term) period.  A service/goods provider usually cannot be a project partner within the same project for which they are providing services or goods.

7. Prime or key supplier: A consortium prime or key supplier builds and leads a consortium of organisations to bid for and deliver specific timebound projects. Other partners in the consortium (including WaterAid) are typically referred to as a ‘sub-contractor’ or ‘sub’. Key suppliers include private sector organisations, NGOs, and research organisations. WaterAid as a sub-contractor will sign a formal agreement with the key supplier. Terms and conditions from this agreement will usually need to flow to project partners.

8. Consortium partner: An organisation that WaterAid is working alongside within a consortium led by a key supplier. WaterAid and other consortium partners should collaborate in line with agreed partnership principles and ways of working of the consortium.