Staff voices: Expanding impact by strengthening local capacities

Staff voices: Expanding impact by strengthening local capacities

  • Robin Schmid
  • Apr 18, 2023

Partnership is at the core of Corus International, a family of global leaders in international development and humanitarian assistance. We collaborate with governments, businesses and local partners to grow inclusive economies, improve public health and strengthen community resilience.  

We believe that communities should be empowered to identify their own needs and solutions and to leverage local knowledge and resources. This approach ensures that interventions are effective, relevant and culturally sensitive, and that they can have a lasting impact on the lives of the people they serve.

Corus’ local capacity strengthening efforts invest in people, institutions and networks. From El Salvador to Uganda, our dedicated staff see local capacity strengthening as a dynamic and purposeful process of elevating our partners’ existing capabilities to achieve and sustain development gains and drive innovation.

Learn more from our staff about the beliefs and actions that drive our local capacity strengthening efforts.


Corus organizations Lutheran World Relief and IMA World Health intentionally refer to their capacity strengthening approach as accompaniment - an intentional, collaborative and respectful process that supports mutual effectiveness, learning and resilience. This accompaniment model exemplifies our commitment to locally led development, recognizing that local partners are the true development leaders in their communities. Hazara Ouédraogo, Mali Country Director, explains how Lutheran World Relief accompanied the Malian farmers’ alliance Union des Sociétés Coopératives des Eleveurs de Tamani (USCET). Learn more about Hazara’s work with USCET in Lutheran World Relief’s strengthening organizational resilience case study.

The accompaniment model that we have put in place at the Union level has been a great contribution not only to the leadership of the Union, but also to the development of other partnerships, to the sustainability of activities, and to make its services more efficient for its members.

– Hazara Ouédraogo, Program Director, Mali

Sustainable Investments

Through Corus’ impact investing fund, Ground Up Investing, local capacity strengthening and investment is growing mission-driven enterprises that do far more than generate profits: they are creating social and environmental benefits for the communities they serve. Kenneth Barigye, Director for Impact Investing in Uganda, describes how accompanying farmer cooperatives is building holistic partnerships in which we adapt to each other’s needs, strengths and unique roles.

With the accompaniment model…we start by assessing the capacity and skill gaps within the farmer group and then work with them to provide training for both farmers and the leaders in running a business, good agricultural practices, and ensure that they can engage with us as equal partners.

– Kenneth Barigye, Director for Impact Investing, Uganda

Building Trust

In Nepal, our approach helps partners to not only look within their organizations to support processes, structures and staff, but it also recognizes the power of relationships by building connections with peers, communities, local and national government, donors and other development actors. Emphasizing trust and sustainability, Narayan Gyawali, Nepal Program Director, recounts Lutheran World Relief’s commitment to diverse partnerships that champion resilience, climate-smart agriculture and community-based disaster risk reduction.

Up to now, we have supported more than 100 CDMCs (Community-Based Disaster Management Committee), 115 cooperatives and savings and credit groups and 115 farmer’s groups [in Nepal].

– Narayan Gyawali, Program Director, Nepal

Government Partnership

Through IMA World Health’s local capacity strengthening initiatives to control and eliminate neglected tropical disease (NTD), we advance mutual learning and promote sustainable solutions to public health challenges. In partnering with the Ministry of Health in Tanzania, Lali Chania, Tanzania Country Director, explains how IMA World Health trained over 118,000 frontline health workers, government officials, community drug distributors and volunteers to conduct mass drug administration in our effort to prevent NTDs and improve health service delivery.

Due to IMA support, more than 21 million people are no longer at risk of lymphatic filariasis, and more than 16 million people are no longer at risk of trachoma.

– Dr. Lali Chania, Country Director, Tanzania

Advocates for Change

Local partners are the true development leaders in communities. Juan Francisco Zambrana, El Salvador Program Manager, introduces us to the Photo Voices tool, an approach to participatory action research that promotes the use of images and narratives to empower people to be a voice in the community about issues affecting their lives. Community members are trained to become advocates or “photographers for change,” using visual storytelling to generate social, economic and environmental change from the ground up.

We support [local partners] in the use of communication techniques, visually with photos and orally with narration, so that they can be spokespersons for change in people and communities through the projects that are implemented by Lutheran World Relief.

– Juan Francisco Zambrana, Program Manager, El Salvador

Locally Led Development

Local capacity strengthening efforts advance our commitment to locally led development. Local organizations, networks and systems should have the right to design and implement their own development agenda. Tim McCully, Executive Vice President for Impact and Partnerships, describes how our role as an international NGO is to listen, support and catalyze as we advocate for existing local systems to be in the driver’s seat.

… We have to acknowledge that today’s ecosystem that drives foreign aid and development is inherently unbalanced and biased against local organizations and structures … We need to be always striving to put our local partners up front, to make sure that we are listening to them first and foremost, and we’re putting their ideas and their concerns and their agenda as our agenda, as opposed to imposing our own.

– Tim McCully, Executive Vice President, Impact and Partnership


A critical premise across the Corus family is that no “one size fits all” approach exists. Local capacity strengthening needs and strategies are highly context-specific and will change and adapt over time. Therefore, continuous learning, innovation and flexibility remain at the core of our capacity strengthening approach.

Learn more