During 2017, INTRAC consultant Bill Sterland made four visits to Kabul, Afghanistan to assist Norwegian Church Aid’s (NCA) Afghanistan office deliver capacity building services to its 11 national partners, aimed at enhancing the implementation of NCA’s country programme. Bill’s work included training in rights-based approaches (RBA) to development and advocacy, and facilitation of strategic planning with individual partners. As NCA makes it a principle that it should participate with its partners wherever possible (and relevant) on an equal basis, its programme coordinators and other staff attended both the training events.

All three exercises used a participatory, group-led and highly practical methodology, intended to produce outputs linked to NCA’s programme and to provide participants with a set of tools for analysis and implementation. Thus, all exercises conducted in the four-day RBA training contributed to the development of partners’ own projects within the NCA programme. The advocacy training was conducted with six selected partners who produced three advocacy strategies corresponding to the three programme themes of peacebuilding, economic empowerment, and WASH.

Strategic planning with five quite different partners was carried out with as wide a range of senior staff members as possible, who had been encouraged to consult widely in advance and undertake a range of analyses in preparation for the workshop. Participants noted, with both surprise and satisfaction, that this was the first time that they could claim real ownership of the process and outputs. With a further year of programme funding to come, the RBA and advocacy training will now be rolled out with partners’ field staff, carried out by NCA staff themselves.