Getting to Locally Led Development: What We Can Do to Move the Needle
This blog synthesizes key discussion points from a Moving the Needle 2018 afternoon breakout session on local ownership.
Time to Listen summarizes and analyzes the experiences of nearly 6,000 people in 20 aid-receiving countries, and the reflections of aid workers themselves, on the effectiveness of international assistance efforts. While they do appreciate international assistance, cynicism among people in aid recipient communities is high and they are eager to see real efforts to make international aid become more effective and achieve more sustained results. Authors conclude that, “People do not want to need assistance! They do not want to depend on outsiders for help” (pg. 21). They want to be more engaged and to have more voice and decision-making power in how aid efforts are conceived, funded, carried out and evaluated. They are calling for a shift from an externally driven aid delivery system to a more collaborative aid system (see table below).
ELEMENTS OF TWO PARADIGMS: A COMPARISON
Externally Driven Aid Delivery System
Collaborative Aid System
Local people seen as beneficiaries and aid recipients
Local people seen as colleagues and drivers of their own development
Focus on identifying needs
Focus on supporting/reinforcing capacities and identifying local priorities
Context-relevant programs developed jointly by recipient communities and aid providers
Focus on spending on a predetermined schedule
Fit money and timing to strategy and realities on the ground
Staff evaluated and rewarded for managing projects on time and on budget
Staff evaluated and rewarded for quality of relationships and results that recipients say make lasting positive changes in their lives
Monitoring and evaluation by providers on project spending and delivery of planned assistance
Monitoring, evaluation, and follow-up by providers and recipients on the results and long-term effects of assistance
Focus on growth
Planned draw down and mutually agreed exit/end of assistance strategy
From Time to Listen: Hearing People on the Receiving End of International Aid (pg.138), available for purchase on Amazon and downloadable for free here.
Time to Listen concludes by asking: “Can a field of change agents change itself?” (pg. 146). The focus of an afternoon session during Moving the Needle 2018 was to begin to answer this question by identifying specific recommendations for USAID and implementing partners to take forward to make locally led development and the approaches identified in the collaborative aid system column above standard practice, rather than an exception.
Participants generated the following recommendations broken out by USAID vs. implementing partners (in some cases ideas are relevant to both) and whether the idea is “low-hanging” (meaning more easily achievable) vs. systemic. This list is not exhaustive of the ideas generated in the session.
“Low-hanging fruit” / more easily implemented options
Recommendations that require systemic change
We hope that you consider trying one of the ideas above, or use them as inspiration for identifying other ways to support greater locally led development. What have you tried? What’s worked? What hasn’t?