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A partnership at many levels: CARE and WorldFish

A story of partnership from WorldFish and CARE, for the Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD) theme P - Partnerships.
Since the 1940s, the humanitarian organization, CARE, has been a key player on the world development stage. CARE’s work ranges from the delivery of humanitarian assistance amid times of crisis, to more on-going support to build community resilience and development capacity. CARE began working with WorldFish in a number of projects to improve livelihoods in developing countries. CARE and WorldFish both share a determination to alleviate poverty in vulnerable communities, and this mutual goal has fostered a productive partnership in countries including Bangladesh and Egypt and now with the CGIAR Research Program on Aquatic Agricultural Systems (AAS).
CARE and WorldFish have joined together to plan and implement the AAS Program.  The communities in aquatic agricultural systems that both organizations work with are unique and varied, as are the multitude of vulnerabilities and challenges they face. Andrea Rodericks, Executive Director for Program Quality and Learning in CARE India notes that “the problems we are trying to address are complex change processes and no one organization can tackle them alone.”
The empowerment of women in low income communities is fundamental to CARE’s work around the world. Rodericks, who has worked for many years to improve the status of women in developing countries, sees a natural partner in WorldFish on this issue. “I find our ideas of thinking around gender transformative change align quite well,” she says. “It’s still a long journey to get that right, but I’m impressed by the way WorldFish is approaching this and their clarity of intent in this area.”
Partnerships provide opportunities to bring together complementary expertise and experiences to tackle development challenges. As Jamie Terzi from CARE Bangladesh explains, “The relationship with WorldFish is strengthened by having mutual objectives and understanding how we can complement each other’s work.”
For Ms Terzi, the partnership is growing. “We’ve been building the relationship – we’ve now done a joint assessment mission in south west Bangladesh – that was a valuable experience for us, as rather than one organization going it alone we were learning as a team. The results were a much deeper analysis. We don’t want to confine ourselves to the south west so we are looking for wider partnership in Bangladesh and with WorldFish taking the approach it is in AAS, this fits well with the approach CARE is taking in relation to the total ecosystem approach. The partnership is changing from a more project-based to an institutional relationship.”
In Egypt, where much effort is needed to address persistent high unemployment and limited economic opportunity for the poor, CARE is working with WorldFish on a significant project  to improve employment and income through the development of Egypt’s aquaculture sector (a project connected with the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish). In both instances, the collaboration between organizations has benefited from a shared vision. Susan Nour, Initiatives Manager at CARE Egypt, describes WorldFish as a “natural partner” for this reason. “In this project we definitely have aligned around the objectives and our understanding of the approach and methodology that WorldFish is using – bottom up, poor-focused and the interest WorldFish has in listening to CARE’s point of view and the commitment to development. We also seem aligned on building capacity and empowering marginalized communities.”
CARE Egypt Country Director, Kevin Fitzcharles, and Assistant Country Director, Hazem Fahmy, agree, adding that the research element that the WorldFish brings to the partnership is of great value. “There is a rigor in the evidence-based approach used by WorldFish that makes CARE work better grounded,” they note.
Whether it’s in the Bangladeshi lowlands, the banks of the Nile or in aquatic agricultural systems across Asia and Africa, the partnership between CARE and WorldFish could be transformative for many. “I think CARE and WorldFish could be a good partnership that will work together to influence the agenda on what donors fund and in negotiating for longer term projects,” says Rodericks. “If we identify issues together we can use our evidence to influence funding and programming strategies that could enable real social change.”