ABOUT: KEY FOCUS AREAS
Key Areas of Change
CARE Burundi’s strategic plan for 2016-2020 includes six strategic directions, five of which are programmatic and relate closely to the program elements and one of which is organizational, focussing on the consolidation of the partnership’s capacities, collaboration, learning culture, systems and procedures. At a recent workshop, CARE Burundi staff and key partners identified, within this organizational dimension, the following five priority areas of change for the next three years:
Further development of the Partnership:
While CARE Burundi was able to establish a strong partnership and the large majority of its programs are delivered by the partners, and while initial efforts have been made with the partners to develop a comprehensive partnership strategy and define the elements of a good partnership, this still remains to be finalized and new strategic partnership agreements signed (as opposed to agreements in the context of specific initiatives). The partnership has three elements: with civil society, including implementing NGOs, other agencies and emerging networks; with the private sector towards improved Corporate Social Responsibility and improved service delivery to the target group; and with the Government, toward better collaborative efforts and the large scale adoption and implementation of proven models.
Operationalization of Impact Measurement and Knowledge Management (SMIC):
The CARE Burundi Impact Measurement and Knowledge Management System (SMIC in French) has been under development with the participation of all partners for the past few years. Much was accomplished so far, including the clarification of the overall logic of the system, the clarification of program logic and impact and effect indicators, the development of a common tool for planning, reporting and learning (OPRA), and the identification of impact measurement, learning and knowledge management procedures, with a focus on documentation and diffusion of models of intervention. The systems, instruments and tools are all in place. What remains now is to operationalize these and create a culture of learning and knowledge generation and diffusion that will manifest itself in a continuous flow of learning, knowledge sharing, reflection, model documentation and revision, and adjustments to programs and the design of initiatives.
Improving working procedures:
Two types of operational challenges are faced by CARE Burundi after the restructuring: one relates to working habits, and the other, to procedures that are not aligned to the new mode of operation. Since the drastic reduction in staff and implementation by partners, CARE staff have been feeling overwhelmed by the demand on their time and feel pulled in many directions. They also have to learn to perform new roles and delegate old ones. The pressure to respond to donors and CI partners in a project management mode impedes the establishment of program management procedures and habits. There is an urgent need for collaborative planning and implementation more adapted to the new mode of operation, for revising job descriptions to fit new roles, to improve efficiency in resource management, to revise procedures and to make better use of ICT.
While the CO has been able to maintain a level of funding of about 6 million USD per year, the funding environment is getting tighter, especially given the deteriorating political situation in Burundi, and the CO is reliant on limited set of funding sources, which constitutes a risk. Proposal writing is also time consuming and needs to be better aligned with, and balanced by, strategic directions. Finally, partners need to be more directly involved in raising funds. All of this requires an improved funding strategy, capacities and processes.
Further development of staff and partner capacity:
There is currently a gap between the competencies of CARE and partner staff and the functions that need to be performed under the new mode of operation. As the program develops, the requirements in both type and scale of activity are becoming increasingly demanding, with increasing staff frustration about their capacity to perform at the desired level. A systematic sustainable staff capacity development program is therefore urgently required.