CLA in Mexico's Civil Society Activity: Adaptive Management in Action!
USAID/Mexico designed the Civil Society Activity (CSA) to strengthen 46 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) working on justice, crime and violence prevention, and human rights. Social Impact and subcontractor Fundación Appleseed implemented CSA from October 2016-September 2020. CSA was based on Human and Institutional Capacity Development (HICD), a methodology that supports internal capacity development (CD). During implementation, CSA incorporated the external focus of “Capacity 2.0” and USAID’s Local Systems Framework. This required collaboration among CSA, USAID/Mexico, and partner CSOs to iterate new methodologies, adapt interventions, and systematize learning. CSA contributed to USAIDs Development Objectives; improved CSO organizational performance and legal compliance; strengthened CSO collaboration with actors in their local system; developed new CD tools; and supported replication by local strengthening organizations. Given the dangerous CSO work and operating environment, these achievements were not guaranteed. CSA owes its success to intentional, sustained use of CLA. CSA and USAID/Mexico collaborated in risking new approaches and learning from new evidence. In the process, we modeled partnership and adaptive management to organizations for whom competition and less adaptive implementation had been the norm. Applying CLA entailed joint development, testing, and continuous improvement of a new Integrated Assessment Tool that combines the Organizational Capacity Assessment (OCA) and Organizational Performance Index (OPI). The tool automatically generates graphics and real-time information that supports decision-making, greater staff and leadership agreement on CD priorities, and accelerated work-planning on needs-based Solution Packages. CSA combined this user-friendly tool with Stakeholder Mapping and Social Network Analysis to develop a systems-oriented CD approach that has been transferred to other stakeholders in the sector.