I’ve written about trust today in the Partnership Matters newsletter, specifically about how the lack of trust is self-perpetuating, breeding more and more distrust.

It seems obvious on one level that cultural development partnerships need to be based on trust. Yet a basic lack of trust, often dressed up as “cultural differences” seems to me to be endemic in the sector.

To manage this mistrust INGOs often seem to operate with mistrust mitigated by an often complicated set of checks, policies and procedures meant to reduce risks and identify offenders.

Time and again partner agencies don’t measure up to the standrads we set and need “capactiy building” to do a better job.

And perhaps because we don’t trust our partners to come up with effective solutions, we end up providing our own? Or because they don’t do exactly what we want, we offer to train and capacity build them?

What would happen if, for a change, we simply asked, ‘what do you really think would make a difference here?’, then gave them the financial support they needed to put their plan in action?

No difficult questions asked, just as an experiment?

Because the truth is that so far, development hasn’t transformed poverty, and lots of it has been pretty useless.  So rather than replicating processes and systems that by and large haven’t been working, why don’t we see our work as an experiment?  And let people experiment with their own ideas?

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