Project sustainability has to be clear in the proposal, even if the proposal does not contain a specific section on sustainability. It is common for all donors that the project must contain a sustainability or Exit Strategy, which is part of the donors’ assessment of the project and its eligibility for funding. So a sustainability or exit strategy is considered very important so the beneficiaries will not be affected when the services or the assistance suddenly stops after the project ends.
Therefore, the organization needs to design activities that help in the sustainability of the project’s outcome like involving local organizations in the implementation or forming and training the community committees to manage the project after completion and delivering.
Sustainability is defined as meeting the needs of the present time without causing harm in the future. Sustainability has 3 pillars:
- Economic sustainability
- Social sustainability
- Environmental sustainability
However, these three pillars are mentioned during the discussion on the sustainability of people, profits and land. To translate these concepts while writing relief or development project proposal, we need to focus on three things since donors focus on three types of sustainability as follows:
- Institutional sustainability (people who will manage the project after funding ends): The organization’s capacity to continue managing the project after funding ends, or the existence of an entity or local partner like community committee, local organization or government entity[.1] . These entities must participate in the developing and implementing stages of the project. Also, will these entities have training that helps in managing the project and maintaining its sustainability, and will they feel the ownership of the project, which will remain their responsibility to operate and maintain?
- Financial sustainability (profits / economy / operational expenditure, after funding ends: It should be clarified that the entity, which will take over the project from the implementing organization at the end of the project, has administrative skills that will work on establishing a documentary cycle and will receive monthly or annual contributions that will be used to operate and maintain the project or clarify if this entity will have the ability to provide new funding to complete and sustain the project.
- Impact sustainability (land, resources and environment): It means that there is no collateral damage in the area in which the project was implemented. This damage can be a social problem between the beneficiaries of the project, disputes between concerned or related parties or environmental damages resulting from the project and its implementation phases.
The most important standards that the donor assessed in the proposal, as well as in the implementation of the project concerning sustainability:
- To what extent does the positive impact deserve to be continuously funded by donors?
- Will there be a local property?
- Will concerned parties participate in planning and implementing the project interventions to guarantee their connection with the project from the beginning?
- Will the local partners of the project have the ability to sustain the interventions?
- Is the technology used in the project appropriate with the economic, social and cultural status of the country in the targeted area?
Local partners’ role
The local partner can contribute in the following ways:
- Coordinate with the local authorities to help in selecting target areas.
- Collect information from targeted areas during rapid needs assessment before writing the project proposal.
- Risk transform: provide coordinating steps with local authorities and local community leaders during project implementation, which decreases the risks faced by the implementing organization or lead to project termination?
- Manage the project after funding ends, which helps to provide an appropriate exit strategy and, thus, increase the chances of success and sustainability of the project.
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