Through the NGO Water Platform, Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP) facilitates connections between its NGO members and between NGOs and other member groups within NWP. The Platform held a meeting on 24 October 2023 to discuss and share experiences on the cooperation between NGOs and private sector organisations. NWP members GMB and Witteveen+Bos joined the discussion to share their perspective on the cooperation with NGOs in various settings.
Two golden rules for a successful collaboration
Nowadays, private sector companies embrace the Sustainable Development Goals and want to implement projects supporting them. As a private sector company, sharing some values and goals as NGOs, is essential when working together. Often, the SDGs and the efforts to attain them by 2030 bring NGOs and the private sector together. To ensure a fruitful collaboration, it is important to assess partners’ values and focus, on both organisational and personal levels, before teaming up. In addition, while working together, it is essential to keep understanding and respecting each other’s different positions and continue to listen carefully and analyse each other’s position.
Diverse collaboration approaches
During the NGO Platform meeting, NWP members GMB and Witteveen+Bos shared their experience with working with NGOs and participants learnt that there is not a single modus operandi. On the contrary, the two private sector organisations attending the meeting were good examples of quite different working approaches.
Witteveen+Bos explained that it works with multiple NGOs, and they do so in several countries, on various themes and with different settings. While each project has its own dynamic, their success often hinges on the alignment of values between the parties involved. In some instances, NGOs have contracted Witteveen+Bos due to their technical expertise. Conversely, there have been occasions where Witteveen+Bos has identified a specific need from a published tender and proactively sought out NGOs that fit the bill, leveraging their unique strengths.
A notable perspective that underscores the collaboration approach of Witteveen+Bos is the belief that mutual understanding is paramount. If there's a lack of synergy, it might be more beneficial for both parties to reconsider their partnership. While some projects are inherently community-centric, requiring deep engagement with local stakeholders, private consultants like Witteveen+Bos are often result-driven. By involving NGOs that excel in community engagement, it is possible to ensure that community values are upheld and facilitate smooth communication across all stakeholders.
GMB on the other hand, focuses on a single location, Tamale – an area in Ghana, where it works with a consortium of NGOs which includes Perfect Sanitation Solutions, Catholic Relief Services, and NGO platform members WASTE and Woord & Daad. Emphasizing the value of these collaborations, GMB acknowledges the integral role NGOs play in ensuring the successful implementation of projects in Ghana. NGOs have an important role in keeping open channels of communication and maintaining a strong connection with the local community which is deemed crucial for the project's continued success.
Additionally, since 2016, GMB shareholders contribute 1.5% of the annual profit to a social entrepreneurship fund. A considerable portion of this fund supports projects in developing countries where GMB provides its technical expertise.
Enhancing information availability for and between organisations
Organisations always work together – in consortia – and the use of accurate and relevant data is crucial, especially when carrying out multi-year programmes or projects at different locations.
During the platform meeting Woord & Daad presented the ‘ParaPact’ data service, a full-service data management tool that can be accessed to by all consortium partners. The data stored in the system is made available as input for managerial decision making using a Power BI dashboard. Woord & Daad, one of the founding fathers of ParaPact, showed how their dashboard works and the benefit of this tool.
About the NGO Water Platform
The NGO Platform is an NWP initiative that brings together Dutch NGOs working on different aspects of water management ranging from access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, and enhancing sustainable water use, to ecosystems management.
Platform members meet every three months to jointly analyse policies, engage in dialogue with invitees representing various stakeholder groups, and ensure NGO members develop joint activities. The NGO Water Platform is an integral part of NWP. It supports its members’ activities in the water sector worldwide and demonstrates the effectiveness and sustainability of our members’ work.
If you represent, or work for, a Dutch NGO and would like to be learn more about the Platform, download the NGO Platform brochure and/or contact NWP Project Manager, Sabrina Kraaijenbrink-Doetjes.