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Community Contribution

Stronger Local Partners and Systems through Collaborative and Adaptive Mindsets

Laura Alvarez

In 2013, in response to budgetary constraints, USAID/Paraguay decided to elevate its partnerships with local organizations to become more efficient while maintaining its effectiveness. This approach, based on learning from previous programs, would come with some fiduciary risks that USAID was willing to take. That year, the Mission awarded a $24.6 million cooperative agreement to CEAMSO, a small local organization with novel and fresh ideas on how to fight corruption, but with no previous direct experience with the Agency. To mitigate fiduciary risks, the agreement required them to sub-contract an international organization with vast experience working with USAID.

Unfortunately, this otherwise ideal relationship did not work as expected and the anticipated risks began to emerge. To address the situation, USAID and the implementing partner had to work collaboratively and come up with creative ideas on how to adapt to correct the course of events. Thanks to the partner's openness about their weaknesses, and USAID's adaptive management approach, the Mission was able to come up with a solution. CEAMSO terminated the contract with the international organization and the Mission decided that all fiduciary capacity building would be left in the hands of the experts: USAID/Paraguay staff. To further improve CEAMSO's organizational capacity in a more strategic and sustainable way, the Mission included an Organizational Capacity Development component to CEAMSO's program description, with specific resources, objectives, and indicators.

This comprehensive collaborative process, requiring a strong adaptive mindset from several USAID offices and the implementing partner itself, proved to be worthwhile. CEAMSO has become not only an excellent USAID partner, but also a key player in the local system to strengthen Democracy and Governance in Paraguay.

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