With the Learning from Consortia programme drawing to a close in July 2021, we share some reflections on the learnings and achievements gained over the past year.
Beginning in April 2020, the Learning from Consortia programme brought together 13 UK Aid Connect consortia, with the aim of learning from their experiences and insights, sharing these with the sector and donors, and, ultimately, creating more effective consortia.
It is commendable that the donor – FCDO – funded such a programme, with a specific focus on ‘learning from and with’ rather than the more typical ‘monitoring and evaluating’ approach. We hope to see this approach be championed in the future.
The 13 UK Aid Connect consortia formed to try to make more of a difference, and they engaged with the programme throughout, despite turbulent external contexts such as operating during the global pandemic Covid-19. Thanks to their commitment, we were able to gain significant learning about the practice of working in a consortium.
What have we learned?
- Consortia are complex, multi-stakeholder partnerships and there are various research gaps which remain to be addressed. Find out more by reading our literature review on effective consortium working.
- Programmes can unleash the power of innovation and adaptation in the face of expected and unexpected factors, under the right conditions. Discover how two UK Aid Connect consortia innovated and adapted their programmes.
- Community engagement bring diverse challenges for consortia. It has different definitions and approaches, and can be significantly affected by external factors. Read more about the definitions and challenges of community engagement in consortium working.
- Communities of practice can enable thematic learning and knowledge exchange, such as with consortium working, gender, community engagement, innovation and value for money through peer support.
- Consortia can adopt various approaches to gender and intersectionality. Learn about five ideas for effective gender approaches within consortia.
- Applying a traditional ‘Value for Money’ approach to consortia can be problematic, and may require alternative methods.
- Covid-19 has challenged consortia to adapt their operational and programmatic work, leading to innovative and unforeseen methods. Read more about five ways development consortia adapted to Covid-19, and find out what enabled them to adapt.
- Using a health check process is good practice for a consortium to identify and monitor it’s strengths and weaknesses. Explore the findings and reflections of the UK Aid Connect consortia health check process.
- Consortia would benefit from further guidance in areas where they have less experience. Read our guide to emerging thinking and practice for effective consortia working.
It has been a privilege to work with UK Aid Connect consortia trying to address some very complex problems. We would like to thank the various stakeholders in the Learning from Consortia programme, especially the UK Aid Connect consortia. We wish the people in the consortia that are closing and those that are continuing every success.
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What might have been achieved?
The programme is closing early due to the wide-ranging cuts to UK aid. This is sadly not a unique story at this time. It is of course disappointing to weigh up what might have been achieved with what has been possible. So much untapped potential will now never be realised, as this decision was announced just as the various pieces of the programme were coming together. We would have been able to support consortia more, develop a more robust evidence base around consortium working and develop more detailed outputs for wider benefit.
What do we hope is our legacy?
The Learning from Consortia programme has been about creating more effective consortia and ways of working and ultimately helping and supporting people and communities to realise more of what they hoped to achieve.
We hope that:
- this type of learning programme is funded again in the future by donors such as FCDO
- the 13 UKAC consortia have worked more effectively and benefitted from targeted support
- future consortia and donors will be able to draw from the 11 knowledge products developed
- future consortia and donors work together to realise the full benefits of consortium working
- communities engaged in these UK Aid Connect consortia have realised enhanced benefits
- more lives have been improved through the learning and exchange of knowledge we have done together.
Find out more about the Learning from Consortia programme.