More Awards, More Opportunities to Partner through USAID’s New Partnerships Initiative
In fiscal year 2022, the New Partnerships Initiative (NPI) continued to grow with $140 million flowing via 32 active NPI awards—the result of a sustained effort to expand access to resources for new, nontraditional, and local partners.
“When NPI was being set up, we saw it as an innovative way to diversify and democratize the Agency’s partnerships,” said Matthew Johnson, USAID’s Industry Liaison, who was involved in the creation of NPI. “The first awards were very small—mostly less than one million dollars. It’s encouraging and even surprising that NPI has grown so quickly and that so many sectors across the Agency have picked up on NPI for their awards.”
NPI represents the Agency’s ongoing commitment—reflected across multiple Administrators—to address the real hurdles that partners face in navigating a donor agency with the breadth of geographic, programmatic, and sectoral diversity found at USAID.
NPI supports the Agency’s efforts to partner with new and nontraditional partners across the full spectrum of development efforts—including U.S. small businesses, local actors, faith-based organizations, cooperatives, diaspora groups, and civil society organizations—to elevate local leadership, foster equity and accountability, and mobilize resources across the Agency’s programs.
Since its inception, NPI’s distinctive partnership approaches have been included in 53 NPI awards to approximately 70 partners in over 40 countries. NPI’s support cuts across sectors and geographies—as well as partner types. Given its longstanding focus on nontraditional and local partners, NPI has been in the vanguard of recent efforts under Administrator Power to pursue greater localization in USAID programming—which involves greater direct funding to local partners in addition to centering local priorities in our programming.
Even when NPI awards are issued to traditional partners, commitments to strengthening local capacities, adopting collaborative methods, and incorporating mechanisms for local accountability and feedback are automatically built in. Moreover, under NPI, traditional partners must commit to subawarding 50 percent or more of the funds they receive to local partners. These are essential steps in shifting the Agency’s posture toward embracing local leadership and valuing local expertise.
Anchoring NPI is a series of centrally designed awards relating to major sectors for USAID programming. These central award mechanisms are known as Annual Program Statements, the largest of which is for Global Health, along with the Conflict Prevention and Recovery Program; Higher Education for Leadership, Innovation, and Exchange; Youth Power 2, relating to positive youth development; and, finally, the Diversifying Partnerships in WASH (DiP-WASH) Program, focused on water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH).
Asked about the influence of NPI approaches on their programming, one staffer who handled NPI’s earliest awards out of the Bureau for Conflict Prevention and Stabilization remarked: “Environments vulnerable to violence and conflict often face unique constraints, such as weakened institutions and frayed social fabrics. In these contexts, organizations with credibility in local communities are often best positioned to lead efforts aimed at preventing or resolving conflict and building peace. By prioritizing local leadership and diverse partnering approaches, our NPI Annual Program Statement has allowed missions from Iraq to Indonesia and Colombia to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to engage new and local partners to address their unique needs.”
Similarly, a staffer at the USAID Kenya Mission observed, “In 2020, USAID in Kenya made a hard pivot toward local partnerships in an effort to put Kenyans in the driver's seat of their development. The mantra was: ‘Kenyan-owned, Kenyan-led, and Kenyan-managed.’ Within our WASH portfolio, we were keen to explore vehicles that would allow us to identify and partner directly with new and local partners, which led us to NPI. As we move through the procurement process with the DiP-WASH APS, we've been able to find partners that may not have traditionally been on our radar. We're excited to see the results of this effort and to support the local partners who will drive WASH service delivery in Kenya.”
As NPI continues to move forward, Adam Phillips, the Executive Director of the Local, Faith, and Transformative Partnerships Hub at USAID, shares his perspective: “With $360 million going out to partners through NPI awards over the past four years, we expect NPI’s approaches to reaching new, nontraditional, and local partners will only continue to grow. We are eager to learn from these early years as we reach the next milestone in advancing locally led development around the world.”
Further information regarding the New Partnerships Initiative can be found here: https://www.usaid.gov/npi.