Mutual Accountability Framework

Inside UKNIAF: What Is Our Mutual Accountability Framework?

In UKNIAF we have found that our Mutual Accountability Framework is an essential tool in laying a foundation for a sound working relationship with different institutional stakeholders. It guides our relationships with the stakeholders, it sets the tone for how we work together. Up front it helps define roles, responsibilities and expectations of both ourselves as the programme and institutional partner. Importantly, as the British Deputy High Commissioner, Ben Llewellyn-Jones points out, it also gives “external partners, particularly investors … confidence that the project [and] the infrastructure proposal will be delivered.”

While there are guiding principles and components of the Mutual Accountability Framework, (and we’ve made our thoughts on these components available on our website, here), in this blog we just want to explore the basics of this relationship building tool.

The whole principle of the MAF is contained in its title:

Mutual – speaks to the category of relationship we have with our partners. It is a bilateral, peer-to-peer, equally based relationship. While UKNIAF may have the resources and capacity to be able to assist, without our partners’ agreement and cooperation, our resources and capacity will lie stagnant.

Similarly, access to our programme’s resources and capacity is only available to the institutions which have expressed a willingness to commit to working together to achieve mutually beneficial goals.

In essence, “mutual” means just that – we are in this together.

Accountability – speaks to the purpose of the relationship with our partners. The agreement is about meeting objectives, of achieving goals.  The relationship is purpose driven.

Importantly, it is not a client/customer, or a donor/beneficiary relationship, where one party to the relationship dictates to another, or expects the other party to perform for their benefit. Rather it is a relationship where we have roles to play and subsequently have responsibilities to meet. These responsibilities benefit both the other party and contribute towards fulfilling the overall relationship.

When these first two terms are read together – Mutual Accountability – it speaks to the mutual interdependence of the relationship. The programme holds partners accountable for performance, and similarly partners hold the programme accountable for its role.

Framework – speaks to the evolving, dynamic nature of our relationship. It sets parameters, but does not dictate specifics.  Relationships rarely thrive within strict, exactly defined, prescribed limitations. Our relationship is an organic, ever-changing interaction between partners. As a result, our framework allows for relationship changes and shifts. Our framework simply lays a foundation for a relationship that will develop, grow, and mature, as we work together

Relationships with different partners require different types of agreements, to suit circumstance and context. Our framework outlines principles rather than prescribing limitations. This allows for us to work with a wide range of institutional partners, while still following similar guidelines. Importantly, it also allows our institutional partners to give input into the relationship to reflect their own situation and dynamic.

And this is why we have a Mutual Accountability Framework. To partner with, rather than dictate to, partner organisations. To ensure that both UKNIAF as well as our partners are working cooperatively towards agreed goals, and finally, to ensure that these agreed goals, and the way that we achieve them, benefit all.

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