Multilateral and bilateral organisations are examples of global stakeholder who may be involved in drowning prevention initiatives in a number of international settings. A multilateral organisation receives its funding from multiple national governments and donors including major foundations. Examples include the World Health Organisation (WHO), the World Bank, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). A bilateral organisation is an agency or non-profit organisation funded by a national government for the purpose of providing financial aid and technical assistance to less developed countries; an example is USAID.
Multilateral and bilateral organisations carry power and influence on a national, regional and global scale. They have the potential to influence a countries development including major elements of healthcare systems, education and governance structures. There are often involved in a variety of development issues, including injury prevention and some are specifically involved in drowning prevention. Many of these organisations have had a global presence for many decades, with their presence generally recognized and accepted in many parts of the world. Many current drowning prevention initiatives implemented by multilateral and bilateral organisations are in low-income countries with high drowning rates and include initiatives such as swimming and water safety education, safe rescue and resuscitation training, disaster preparedness and the provision of tools to improve the water safety of community settings.
Initiatives run through these organisations are usually large-scale, long term and well resourced. There may be benefits in engaging these organisations in your drowning prevention work, including that it may be easier to gain credibility and secure wider support for your work. The organisation may also be implementing similar interventions to which you can align your efforts.
Identifying relevant stakeholders from within large multi and bilateral organisations can be difficult. There are generally large numbers of staff working to across a range of issues, spread across numerous departments globally. Here, it is important to identify the correct ‘level’ of stakeholder. Who will most likely engage with you? Who will find drowning prevention relevant or interesting? Who will be of most use for the context in which you are working?
The implementation of smaller-scale drowning prevention interventions is unlikely to be of interest to stakeholders working on large global projects. All bilateral organisations have specific priorities that their work that are negotiated with the government of the recipient country. These priorities are often presented in the form of a bilateral agreement or plan. Therefore, it is important to present the topic of drowning prevention in alignment with established organisational priorities to increase the likelihood of gaining support for it. Some have funding programs specifically suited to small scale local efforts.
Some methods to identify multilateral and bilateral organisations with an interest in drowning prevention include online searches of organisational charts, review of government and organisational reports/documents, as well as directly contacting government departments and organisations known to be involved in drowning prevention. Consider asking to be referred to a relevant staff member if your first attempt does not reach the correct contact person.
- Bi/multi-lateral organisations often have a broad reach across multiple countries and are involved in numerous development issues.
- May provide an opportunity for additional funding for drowning prevention initiatives, although funding is generally very competitive.
- May provide access to the expertise of other staff working for the organisation.
- May present an opportunity to upscale existing drowning prevention interventions.
- Possible to promote work in drowning prevention through an organisations communication streams, or engage well-known stakeholders working for an organisation to advocate existing drowning prevention initiatives.
- A good implementation plan can be used to lobby governments and communicate project plans to potential funders and stakeholders.
- Stakeholders from large organisations may not be interested in drowning prevention initiatives, particularly if they do not match their priorities, are small-scale or are limited to one geographical area.
- Drowning prevention may not be a key issue that the organisation is attempting to address.
he identification of relevant multilateral and bilateral organisations involved in drowning prevention should be completed as part of National Water Safety Plan development. Even if engagement is not successful, bilateral and multilateral organisations are often portals for useful, up-to-date and freely available information on a range of global development issues. If engagement is successful, developing a communication strategy for interacting with these stakeholders early-on will be beneficial.