Shift-The-Power Lab in progress

agenda January 21, 2020

There is widespread consensus that in partnerships for development, donors, and international NGOs have too much power, and NGOs in the South too little. Despite this consensus, the power imbalances persist. Apparently, it is hard to put the principles into practice. Why is this the case, and what can be done about it? These are the core questions addressed in the Shift-the-Power Lab which came into existence during the summer of 2019. Read below a short update about the progress we’ve made since then.

Much progress has been made with testing the prototype of the tool to analyse power in the partnerships. Some developments are:

  • In the fourth quarter of 2019 Amref, Cordaid, Oxfam Novib, the Kenya Community Development Foundations and the Civic Engagement Alliance (CEA) led by ICCO tested a prototype of the tool.
  • Two additional tests are planned at the beginning of 2020 by Simavi and Mercy Corps.
  • We received lessons learned and feedback from a panel of experts (including Alan Fowler and Willem Elbers) which will be used to further develop the tool.
  • The tool has been translated into Spanish and French.

The first test results are very encouraging! Based on the preliminary test results we conclude that – so far – the prototype of the tool is performing up to the expectations. In all tests the application of the tool did make power relations more visible. Yet, we also see ways how the tool can be further improved!

During the Meet-Up on Strategic Partnership: Rethinking ownership and control within advocacy partnerships on February 6, Willem Elbers will give a presentation based on his research into power dynamics in civil society partnerships. The Shift-The-Power Lab will share the learnings on power in decision-making and the test results of the tool.

Are you a civil society organisation part of an existing or new partnership between organisations based in the Global North or in the Global South, and interested to shift power? Join the Shift-the-Power Lab!

Or are you willing to test our practical tool? Let us know! Please contact Anne-Marie Heemskerk (

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