Remote Management Programming and Donor Policy

1st December 2020
Author: Izzy Birch

This rapid literature review finds very little donor-published policy or guidance on remote management programming. However, there has been an expansion in operational guidance produced by other agencies, including in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is also difficult to ascertain any donor-specific trends in support for remote programming, other than that it is increasingly the default option for many organisations working in insecure environments, rather than a last resort or temporary measure, and that prolonged crises such as that in Syria are contributing to its normalisation. ‘Remote management’ in the context of this report refers to the strategies used by humanitarian agencies to maintain access to populations in need in situations of significant uncertainty and risk. They may include the withdrawal of certain categories of staff or the reallocation of responsibilities for programme delivery to local staff or partners. Different agencies use different terms for approaches which generally lie along a spectrum of greater or lesser delegation of power and responsibility to the local level. The literature suggests three broad roles for donors in remote management: a convening role, a coordinating role, and a role in setting standards and guidance. The implications of remote management programming for donor systems and structures are noted in five areas: ethics, funding, engagement with proscribed groups, staffing, and research. The report concludes with a matrix that summarises recent operational guidance and a list of suggested reading on the risks of remote management.

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Suggested Citation

Birch, I. (2020). Remote management programming and donor policy. K4D Helpdesk Report 926. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies.


1st December 2020


Continent: Global