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Desk Officer Days 2020: How to Support Effective and Sustainable Development

Julia Brandström shares some reflections after this year’s Desk Officer Digi-Days at SMC, mainly concerning ”How can we truly increase local ownership?”

”How can we truly increase local ownership?”; “We are not the only ones with many questions”; “Many buzzwords and enlightening conversations”; “Honest discussions about power dynamics” – These are some of the participants reflections after this year’s Desk Officer Digi-Days at SMC.

Julia Brandström and others reflect on the many questions we still have to digest after this year’s inspiring Desk Officer Digi-Days.

With 15 minutes left of our two-day webinar I couldn’t believe that it would end soon. We had so many more difficult questions to digest, and so many more fruitful discussions to learn from.

In the application text, we asked questions such as: But how do we best apply the principles of aid and development effectiveness in our work? What are the opportunities and challenges? What are the implications when it comes to planning and developing different interventions?

And now, I believe that all of the about 50 participants can agree to not having any clear answers to these questions! But we probably agree that it is very rewarding for us as individuals as well as organisations to reflect on the issues jointly. We have gathered some reference material on our course page on Fabo Learning Platform. Soon we hope to adjust the content to better fit a learning page open for everyone registered on Fabo.

Continue to learn and discuss with us

SMC also has a special project team working with aid and development effectiveness. They will follow up with more opportunities to meet and discuss the questions identified during the webinar. The next one is already planned for December 11th. Make sure to register by e-mailing Erik Bäckelid no later than December 7th 2020.

As your SMC Desk Officers, we look forward to doing our best to support you on our mutual learning journey concerning core and programme support, donor harmonization, adaptive management, local ownership and much more of the topics discussed during these days!

Reactions from the participants

We are very happy to share some of the questions and reactions from the participants of the webinar here:

”How can we truly increase local ownership?”

Great as always to be part of SMC’s Desk Officer Days! Sad of course not to be able to meet in person this year, but on the other hand it was nice that the digital format made it possible for colleagues from other parts of the world to participate.

In terms of content, it was exciting to be examine difficult questions about who really has the power in development cooperation – we who channel the funds or our partners and their target groups? How can we truly increase their local ownership?

– Stefan Östman of Interact/EFK

“We are not the only ones with many questions”

Hearing others share their reflections and thoughts, I realised that we are not the only ones with many questions (and no clear answers) in how to continuously improve our effectiveness. But I am very happy and proud that SMC and the organisations represented have the courage and desire to seek answers and make the effort to improve.

At the international department at Children’s Mission, we have taken time to review the questions in the workbook and that alone has helped us reflect on various elements of how we work. The discussions we have had on local ownership, power dynamics, flexibility and openness in partnership development are some of the elements that will not only affect our daily work but also influence our reflection as we close this year and our planning as we look forward to the coming year.

– Mercy Murigi, Children’s Mission Africa

“Many buzzwords and enlightening conversations”

“Efficiency, core financing, local ownership, flexibility, environment & climate impact… There were many buzzwords in the enlightening conversations and lectures we had the pleasure of taking part in during SMC’s Desk Officer Days. The highlight for me was the introduction of SMC’s new Secretary General, Charlotta Norrby. But also the many issues that the researcher Malin Hasselskog highlighted. Many thanks to you at SMC for arranging this and to all member organisations who enriched the days with their great experience.” – Per-Olof Allerth of Ankarstiftelsen

“Honest discussions about power dynamics”

I am so happy about the well-organized and educational Desk Officer Days that SMC arranged with us member organisations! I appreciated the honest discussions about how power dynamics are built into the relationship between donors and partner organisations, as well as the possibility of exchanging experiences! – Marci Hernández Martínez of Swefor/Kristna fredsrörelsen