How we work with country programmes and projects

DCA has country offices in all our focus countries and since 1997 we have worked to increasingly decentralise the management of our programmes and projects.

In practice this means that the country office in each focus country develop a country programme strategy. Once this is approved by DCA’s International Director, it becomes the mandate for the country team to implement. This includes selection of partners, approval of concrete projects, fundraising initiatives, and an overall responsibility to achieve the expected outcomes and change areas.


DCA’s country offices develop the country programmes in a structured dialogue between partner organisations, DCA staff, and relevant external stakeholders. Since 2015, DCA has used a Theory of Change (ToC) approach in our country programming processes to better understand and adapt to changing contexts and to strengthen synergies and links across our programme interventions. The programme constitutes a time-bound strategic framework, typically 5 years, for DCA’s work within the particular country and relevant themes. All of our work is done with a Gender Equality and Human Rights commitment.

The overall framework for all programmes are DCA’s international goals and programme policies. The DCA HQ provides support for the ToC process and technical advisors provide quality assurance before DCA’s International Director can finally approve the programme strategy.

Each country programme is based on a context analysis including the following:

  • key poverty and inequality data
  • civil society analysis including the role of Faith Based Organisations
  • thematic analysis of key problems and rights violations
  • national developments and legal frameworks including compliance with International Human Rights Law
  • key gaps, drivers for change, and a risks assessment

With a foundation in this analysis, DCA and partners work together to build a shared understanding of how change happens in the specific context and to develop a common vision for our work. Based on this, change pathways are developed which visualise both partners’ and DCA’s specific role in contributing to the desired changes. The pathways also clarifies which key assumptions and actions we believe will lead to the desired changes for the rights holders we work with.

In an annual critical reflection workshop with partners, we use the pathways as starting point for joint monitoring of the progress and learnings gathered. Based on the learning, the programme and pathways will be adjusted, if relevant.

Read our policies


DCA’s support to partners typically begins with an application designed and prepared by the local partner in which the partner request financial support from DCA. This can be support for specific projects, in some cases larger programmes, or even the partner’s entire strategic plan. Funding can also be support for events, research, single-issue alliances, or participation in consortia.

Before approval, the country office is responsible for assessing the partner organization and the project proposal both technically and in relation to the priorities of the country programme.

In the assessment and approval process, the project design and proposal may need strengthening and DCA staff can provide support for this. When proposals for back-donors are prepared it is however mostly done in a direct cooperation between the partners’ and DCA’s staff, often within a short deadline.

Once a partner’s proposal is approved, it is formalised in a cooperation agreement which stipulates all contractual obligation for both the partner and DCA. With some partners there can be several different cooperation agreements, for example when a partner is funded both as part of an EU grant and at the same time receives long-term support from other funding.

For all project interventions, DCA’s role is to support and monitor implementation, ensure that the management, accountability and administration meet professional standards, promote anti-corruption and ensure evaluation and learning from outcomes, and to raise the necessary financial means.

The vast majority of projects are approved under the respective country programmes. In major emergencies or during start-up of interventions in new countries, however, projects are supported and managed by DCA’s HQ in Copenhagen. This is also the case for a few global interventions.

Read more about our programmes

Active Citizenship
We work to reinforcing the foundations of democracy

Right to Food
We work to improving access to food for the poorest

Humanitarian Assistance
We work to save lives when diaster strikes

Safer Communities
We work to build safer communities