Since 2012, INTRAC has been monitoring an increase in the withdrawal of aid by international NGOs from partners, projects, programmes, regions and countries throughout the world. Reasons include funding cuts by donors, decisions to reduce support to middle-income countries, responding to difficult operating environments, and shifts in strategic direction at the organisational level. Approaches vary across organisations with multiple ways to describe the process: handing over, phasing out, transition, winding down, wrapping up, moving on, spin-offs. However organisations approach exit, it is not easy and many organisations and the individuals involved are looking for ideas on best practice.

With a lack of easily accessible information on good practice, many organisations have been struggling with how to approach exit, prepare partners, and ensure sustainability of interventions. INTRAC has been supporting organisations to address these gaps through:

Organisations we have worked with on exit planning include: CBM International; the Climate and Development Knowledge Network; the Global Network of Civil Society Organisations for Disaster Reductionthe Open Society Foundations; Oxfam GB; and Plan International Sweden.

To find out more about INTRAC’s track record working on the topic of aid withdrawal and exit strategies, view the sections below. ↓

INTRAC has expertise in supporting responsible phase out processes for INGOs, their Southern civil society partners and country offices. This includes workshop and webinar facilitation, and mentoring.

Specific examples of tailored support INTRAC has provided include:

  • CBM International – Partnership, Exit and Sustainability Learning Webinars: In November 2017, INTRAC facilitated two webinars for CBM to exchange learning with other organisations and partners on different approaches to strengthening sustainability of activities and projects after phase out. The webinars also enabled discussion around key considerations for responsible exit, with a view to informing specific guidance on responsible exit for CBM. Guest speakers included Oxfam GB, The Leprosy Mission International and WWF-UK.
  • Oxfam GB: Developing an exit strategy framework for the Food Security Programme in the South Caucasus: INTRAC provided mentoring support to Oxfam GB and Oxfam country offices and partners in Armenia and Georgia during the final year of a European Commission-funded project on food security. The exit strategy for the food security programme also fed into the process of Oxfam’s broader withdrawal from the region and its progress with spinning off new, national NGOs in Armenia and Georgia to carry forward Oxfam’s legacy.
  • Global Network of Civil Society Organisations for Disaster Reduction (GNDR): Exit and sustainability planning workshop for the Frontline programme: INTRAC facilitated an exit strategy and sustainability workshop in Senegal for the Frontline programme of the Global Network of Civil Society Organisations for Disaster Reduction (GNDR). This was linked to a learning evaluation of Frontline conducted by INTRAC.
  • Plan International Sweden – Enhancing phase-out and sustainability planning: From 2017-18, INTRAC supported Plan International Sweden to assess and strengthen how it plans for phase-out and sustainability throughout the programme and grant cycle. Together we mapped experiences of different types of phase-out from across Plan International, bringing together guidance materials and examples of good practice from a range of countries, regions and programmes. These were then used to identify areas within Plan International Sweden’s programme and grant management where planning for phase-out could be strengthened. They also provide a resource for staff who are planning, implementing or evaluating phase-out processes.

There is a lack of easily accessible information on good practice around aid withdrawal and exit strategies in the sector. We open up spaces for sharing and learning, contribute to debate, and produce publications on the topic. These include: