No. 1: “Challenges for civil society in 2020 – and opportunities to do something about it” [Read now]

INTRAC’s most popular blog of the year was also one of our first – published in late January, this piece brought together five civil society practitioners to explore the challenges facing the sector in 2020. Our contributors based in Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia and the UK did not anticipate the rapid spread of COVID-19, but then few did. However, it is worth looking at the issues raised here in the light of what is known now – for example the way COVID-19 restrictions have been used to restrict civic space in a number of countries.

No. 2: “Living our values in the distress of exit” by Rick James [Read now]

In 2020, INTRAC embarked upon a new series of blogs focusing on the topic of responsible exit – partly in recognition of the enormous pressures that the pandemic has placed on civil society programmes. As Rick James observed in this first blog in the series, “most international NGOs will break off funding partnerships with some local CSOs. It is not whether they will exit, but how they choose to do it.” In his piece, Rick identifies things that organisations should strive to do, from providing partners with enough preparation time, to investing in capacity strengthening.

No. 3: “How timely organisational support could help civil society in the South survive COVID-19” by Rod MacLeod [Read now]

Rod MacLeod opens our third most popular blog by stating that “while urgent and decisive action is required, the ramifications of this crisis are likely to be felt for many years to come.” In the piece, Rod explores some of the forms of organisational support CSOs in the global South have needed – and which in some cases, they have received. As the pandemic enters its second year in 2021, these interventions are likely to be as important as ever.

No. 4: “If INGOs consider sustainability in their planning, exit can be a good thing for local civil society” by Emmanuel Kumi [Read now]

The second entry in our series of blogs on exit proved to be the fourth most popular blog of the year. In it, Ghana-based researcher and development practitioner Emmanuel Kumi argues that INGOs breaking off their partnerships can be good for local CSOs – provided that sustainability is built into their planning. In doing so, he touches on topics like dependency on international funding, domestic resource mobilisation, and shifting the power.

No. 5: “There’s no need to reinvent the wheel in exit planning – let’s use what’s already out there” by Rachel Hayman [Read now]

In her contribution to the exit series, Rachel Hayman argued that exit planning must take into consideration the resources that already exist. To help with this, her piece identifies a number of useful resources from previous years. These include previous work by INTRAC, and by other organisations and individuals including Grantcraft and Knowledge for Development. The blog ends with a note of hope, suggesting that while the pandemic “might be exposing the fragility of civil society organisations”, it is also “opening up opportunities for creativity, for building back better and stronger”.

INTRAC plans to bring more interesting blogs to our website in 2021, written both by our staff and our wider network. In the meantime, if you’ve caught up with the most popular blogs of last year, here are five you may have missed:

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