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Adapt engagement approach depending on unique stakeholder needs and interests


Adapt engagement approach depending on unique stakeholder needs and interests

Adapt engagement approach depending on unique stakeholder needs and interests

Posted on August 13, 2019 by Karina de Souza

Authoring Organizations: Pacific Institute
Consulting Organizations: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
Universal: No
Applicable Phases: Commit
Last Updated May 22, 2024


Different types of partners and stakeholders need different forms of engagement. Partners differ in their level of involvement – are they a core partner, a secondary partner, or a benefactor? Partner type also affects engagement strategies, whether the partner belongs to the public sector, private sector, or a local community. Since different stakeholders have different needs, norms, and expectations, they will each resonate more strongly with different approaches, framings, and language. The most effective engagement strategies adapt their approach to meet the audience’s needs.


Specific engagement according to the stakeholder needs will result in:

  • A more diverse array of stakeholders
  • A better understanding of stakeholders
  • Deeper engagement from stakeholders    


  • Ensure broad engagement by speaking to water challenges at multiple levels. Address large-scale issues by aligning with government mandates and policies, but also discuss local issues at the community level.      
  • Ensure that methods of engagement are both targeted and inclusive enough to encourage the most useful stakeholders to engage. This will require noting the cultural norms around engagement with the public sector or communities, and ensuring that the partnership is well aligned within its context.


In Tanzania, the Partnership for Sustainable Water Management in Usa River (SUWAMA) discovered that when partners called a meeting for farmer training, only men attended. This gender imbalance occurred despite the heavy involvement of women in small-scale farming in the area.  Women’s knowledge and input could have been invaluable when designing successful interventions. Inclusive engagement requires specific gender-sensitive design to overcome this type of response and ensure diverse opinions are being captured. In hindsight, project partners would have been well-served by designing specific processes for engaging and inspiring female participants.

Projects that have validated this Lesson

The Usa River in northern Tanzania is central to the livelihoods of the majority of the region’s companies, communities and individuals. From big business to small-scale farming, from wildlife reserves and lodges to village leaders and community groups, people in … Learn More

This lesson learned reflects the beliefs and experiences of the author, not necessarily the Pacific Institute, CEO Water Mandate, or UN Global Compact.