What would happen if international agencies all decided to work through local organisations in the countries surrounding Ukraine? What would it take?
We’d need to set aside our egos for a start. It might be the hardest part and likely most important. But after that, what then? We’d likely need to see this a part of a bolder vision. One connected to legacy. If we partner with civil society in these countries for a 3-5 year period, we could fulfil our desire and mission to help the refugees but also leave a much stronger and robust civil society in each of the countries. And we would be changed ourselves – we would be stronger, more robust, too.
Some civil society organisations present already function better than we do, so we could learn from them. Some need help in organising, in understanding various humanitarian standards or how to build staff welfare, help with scaling up in a way that doesn’t ‘break’ them, and so on. While others need help understanding how to coordinate with the international system and so on. Some just need money. Some need help recruiting and training new staff. Each organisation will be unique. We may need to second our staff into their organisations for a period of time to help with specific skills.
The thing is that it is possible. And just like digital transformation often requires us to think differently and have different skills, this approach does too. We’ll need more coaches and listeners. But we can do it. And there are many people already doing this and trying to do it more. We can help them to keep going.
The choice is up to us.