NewsHigher standards in development cooperation

Higher standards in development cooperation

When I started in Interpedia five years ago, our work was overshadowed by the sudden cuts in development funding in 2015. The cuts gradually began to affect our work as well as the work of our partners,and the following years were tough. Fortunately, we have managed to overcome those challenges with most partners and our work continues.

The declining number of donors has also been our challenge for a long time. Our competitors in that field are large international organizations, so gaining visibility is not easy. Now the decline seems to be leveling off and for this we can thank the loyal supporters of our work, who appreciate a small Finnish organization focusing on sustainable long-term efforts.

The best thing about this work is the versatility, as in a small organization the work is very diverse. Our networks extend in many directions, as we work in seven different countries with very diverse partners. In addition, we have many partners in Finland as well. These networks provide many perspectives on what is going on around the world.

Cooperation with long-term partner organizations

The development cooperation done by civil society organizations has become more professional over the years. At Interpedia, of course, the work has been professional for a long time already. However, the level of requirements set by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs is constantly higher. For example, more attention is paid to risk management and the measurement of results. This requires more planning and monitoring from us and our partners.

In my work, in co-operation with long-term partners I have noted that over the years, many long-standing problems have finally been solved successfully. Our partner organizations are able to constantly develop their work. I also respect their ability to operate in challenging environments. There has been political unrest in Ethiopia, and Nepal has faced natural disasters and is now in the midst of a serious pandemic. Our partners have always been able to transform their work and adapt to the current situation.

Children have the right to education, protection and an adequate standard of living!

There is a clear focus in our development cooperation: the child’s right to education, protection,and an adequate standard of living.There are usually three types of goals in our projects:

  1. Increasing children’s knowledge and skills and activeness, reaching the children themselves.
  2. Identifying duty-bearers and developing their work and capacity (e.g. public authorities and school actors). It has been great to see how our partners have developed such insightful ideas for this work.
  3. Development of civil society. A free civil society is a prerequisite for real development and a functioning society. It is also important to involve small local grassroots organizations to ensure sustainability.
Nainen istuu penkillä nepalilaisten koululaisten kanssa.

The second phase of development cooperation includes solving multifaceted problems

I am motivated by how, together with our partner organization, we identify development challenges, map out their root causes and how they can be addressed.Many things have moved in the right direction and most of our countries of operation are well on track to achieve many of the sustainable development goals. On the other hand, many easy problems have already been solved and more difficult issues now need to be considered.

I lived in Zambia as a child, when my father was working for a large scale project to build schools. A lot of schools have been built in the past as part of development efforts and most children can already start school.However, we now need to solve how to improve the quality of education and reduce school dropouts, so the means of promoting education are different today.

A good foundation for the future

Over the past six months, we have formulated Interpedia’s development cooperation strategy starting from 2021 and participated in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ application round for programme-based support for Finnish CSOs. We have examined our work as a whole and defined the priorities and goals of our work.

At present, for example, ethical principles and anti-corruption measures as well as the promotion of equality and the fight against sexual abuse are emphasized in the field.We have always acted in accordance with these principles, but now these issues have been raised more prominently and the related guidelines and procedures have been updated.

For example, the promotion of equality requires systematic measures.We are already promoting many good things, but how could we do our work even better? On these issues, too, the easy things have already been done, and now we need to figure out how we can step up to the next level.

Ilona Kalliola
The author is Interpedia’s Director for Development Co-operation.

Read more about Interpedia’s development co-operation