We are delighted to announce the launch of Partnerships in Practice. PiP builds on the pioneering work of Building Partnerships for Development in Water and Sanitation (BPDWS), which was operational from late 1998 to early 2014. BPD grew out of an initial conversation back in 1997 between Jim Wolfensohn (then head of the World Bank) and Nigel Twose (head of policy at ActionAid) around corporate contributions to sustainable development. BPD was originally divided into four research clusters – one being on water and sanitation. Our focus was on how partnerships could provide greater access to poor communities in urban settings. BPD neatly brought together a range of themes: poverty alleviation, community participation, private sector participation, public sector capacity building, and, of course, partnerships. WaterAid was bold enough to host what was originally called Business Partners for Development at a time when relationships between stakeholders were often confrontational and partnerships were viewed with suspicion. Those early days were indeed a very challenging experiment – BPD was one of the first multi-stakeholder global partnerships with a small secretariat but with access to a wide range of stakeholders in the WASH sector.
In 2003 we became a registered charity and changed our name to Building Partnerships for Development. Over the years, we moved programmatically with the trends in the sector – able to anticipate different shifts based on insights from our wide network and able, I believe, to remain a trusted and neutral space for practitioners in the WASH sector. In some ways though, our own governance became less fit for purpose – not matching the light and flexible work profile that we had long since established. The demand for our services was beyond what we could address with our existing charitable objectives. BPD was becoming less research-orientated and more of a service provider to organisations and partnerships in the sector. For a small team, we have been fortunate to be able to interact with the sector in such a wide range of ways – no two assignments were the same.
So, again we have changed with the times and the needs of our partners! We have now dissolved BPD and established a new lighter registered company that allows us to maintain a connection to the original brand as well as the expertise and skills that we have developed over the years. We are grateful for the ongoing albeit less institutionalised support of our former BPD Board of Directors – a multi-national, multi-stakeholder group of individuals who have each made huge contributions to the sector.
Partnerships in Practice staff and associates will look very familiar to you – see them here. We very much look forward to maintaining contact with you as PiP evolves.
Ken Caplan, June 2014