The Kabarole Research & Resource Centre (KRC) in Fort Portal has a good track record in community development projects and assists quite a number of smaller NGOs in the region. As such it is a valuable partner for Western donor organisations, such as Hivos (Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries).

 

I met Julius Mwangai, the director of KRC, together with Edith Tuboly of Hivos, during a workshop about the Change Alliance in Nairobi in 2010. Enthused about the FAN approach (Free Actors in Networks), they invited me and my Ugandese friend Joseph Ssuuna to conduct a workshop on the model. They believed it could bring new energy to the process they were going through with partners in development.

 

After an introductory session for KRC facilitators in Fort Portal we moved to Kasese where some 40 participants from KRC and its partner organisations came together for two days.  It was a great pleasure to work again with Joseph, who was a co-facilitator in the PSO Healthy Networks Learning Project.

 

 

We made a Timeline of the last ten years. This was very revealing for all who were present. For those who had not been involved back then, it was a good opportunity to catch up with history.

 

 

By putting the moments that mattered into a history line, the bigger picture became clear:

After the end of armed conflict twelve years ago, there were many donors keen to support local partners in reconstruction work. KRC developed into a capable resource centre, taking the lead in a lot of initiatives. For some time, money was not a problem, and is was easy to share it with others.

In the last two years this situation changed. It had become much more difficult to raise funds, and donors were now imposing new conditions, often placing emphasis on income generating activities and aligning with commercial entrepreneurs. Previously smooth relations could no longer be taken for granted. A new response was needed.

 

Working with partners requires a clear view of each other's roles.

It was useful to bring these issues to the surface and address mutual expectations. As one consultant with long experience in the region said to us: “You have been effective in breaking down some bridges. And I’m most grateful for that!”