Partnerships in practice tools


The WaterAid Partnerships in Practice toolkits – available to download in English, French and Portuguese – have been designed to help strengthen partnerships within the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector.

To fulfil our role in helping to strengthen the WASH sector, we must form effective partnerships at all levels. For partnerships to be successful, we need good processes and good behaviours. Poor partnerships can destroy projects.

These tools are designed to strengthen partnership practice. WaterAid developed them in collaboration with Partnerships in Practice (PiP), an organisation that provides advisory, research and training services to strengthen partnership approaches for sustainable development, especially in the WASH sector.

We have used the tools widely across a range of partnership types in many different contexts. Self-explanatory and easy to use, each tool includes step-by-step instructions and questions to help deepen your analysis. As group exercises, they generate useful insights based on different perspectives. The first three exercises in particular are visual and participatory, and can be easily carried out with partners.

What are the tools?

  • Mapping partnerships: Clarify which actors are involved in a project, what each actor contributes, and what sort of relationships are most appropriate between different actors.
  • Assessing incentives: Find out what motivates different partners and what their priorities are for their involvement in a project.
  • Roles and responsibilities: Agree on the different roles and responsibilities of each partner and make sure all the accountabilities in the project are covered.
  • Partnership governance: Be clear about decision-making and accountability processes – who makes decisions and how, and the types of feedback and complaints mechanisms available.
  • Selection and exit strategies: Establish sound processes for selecting partners and make it clear how the partnership will end or change.
  • Communication and negotiation: Communicate clearly in partnership and position yourself to get what you want from a partnership.
  • Partnership health check: Keep your relationships productive through regular discussions about what aspects of your partnership are working well and what issues need to be addressed.
  • Building blocks for self-assessment: Assess your team’s strengths and weaknesses across the different building blocks of partnership. Identify which processes to strengthen and where you need to develop stronger collaborative skills and behaviours in staff members.
  • Safeguarding partner self-Assessment: All WaterAid’s partners are required to meet and maintain our minimum safeguarding standards. Use this tool to assess your safeguarding capacity, identify areas for development and highlight your strengths. 

When and how to use the Partnership in Practice tools

  • To develop new projects and partnerships, during inception meetings and the project set-up phase.
  • To review partnerships, as part of project reflection meetings or mid-term reviews.
  • To make sure you are getting the best value from your partnerships: hold participatory workshops to optimise the value added by each actor and to the partnership as a whole.
  • To diagnose the cause of partnership problems and help identify solutions: use the tools to help mediate with different partners and find ways to heal and strengthen relationships.
  • To develop partnership skills and insights in staff: use the exercises to promote discussion about your partnerships and develop deeper skills and understanding.
  • To keep your partnerships productive with a regular partnership health check.