Partnerships in practice tools

The WaterAid Partnerships in Practice toolkits – available to download in French and English – 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. And for partnerships to be successful we need good partnership processes and good partnership behaviours. Poor partnerships can destroy a project.

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 very visual and participatory, and can easily be 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 are their priorities 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, what sort of feedback and complaints mechanisms are there.
  • Selection and exit strategies: Establish sound processes for selecting partners; and make it very clear how the partnership will end or change, and what will be the process.
  • Communication and negotiation: Communicate clearly in partnership and position yourself to get what you want from a partnership (communication issues are often the main problem in partnerships).
  • Partnership health check: Keep your relationships productive through regular discussions about what aspects of your partnership are working well and where there are issues that need to be addressed.
  • Building blocks for self-assessment: Use this tool to 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


When to use the Partnership in Practice tools and for what

The tools can be used for a range of purposes: For example, to:

  • Develop new projects and partnerships: during inception meetings and project set-up phase.
  • Review partnerships: as part of project reflection meetings or mid-term reviews.
  • 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.
  • Develop partnership skills and insights in staff: Use the exercises to promote discussion about your partnerships and develop deeper skills and understanding.

And finally – you can use the tools to keep your partnerships productive with a regular partnership health check.