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Community Contribution

Better Together: Using Co-creation to Strengthen Localization in Kenya

Brian Ramsey, Daniel Shamblin

In 2020, USAID Kenya and East Africa began utilizing co-creation as a way to tap into local expertise, improve design, broaden perspectives, and promote sustainability. In the following 24 months, the Mission Support for the Journey to Self-Reliance Pivot (MSP) activity and USAID/KEA finalized a strategy focused on Kenya-led development; executed 15 co-creations; and held repeated learning and adaptation exercises to improve Mission performance, partnerships, and activity design. Although the long-term process was unplanned, the iterative collaborating, learning, and adapting approach was intentional. MSP and USAID uncovered lessons learned, held pause and reflect sessions and after-action reviews, and continuously chose opportunities to observe, reflect, and adapt to changing circumstances. Accompanied by USAID’s spirit of openness, local partners shared both innovative ideas and realistic perspectives on context. Throughout the process, we learned, maintained flexibility, and recognized that we would achieve our intended objectives, locally-informed, and locally-led development interventions, if we worked with the process and with each other.

When we do it right, local partners improve their own capacities, but we also learn and grow. Working with Kenya-led organizations, we expect to see a better design of development interventions, more local ownership, sustainability, and better development results.

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