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Community Contribution

How Decentralizing Control of Programs Leads to More Precise Development Outcomes

Janira Romero, Susanna Myer, and Kellen Parrish

The COVID-19 pandemic derailed Partners of the Americas’ (POA) USAID Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program by stopping travel and prohibiting the in-person technical agriculture assistance upon which the program is traditionally based. To continue supporting our stakeholders across various value chains, POA’s field and headquarters (HQ) teams decided to transition program operations to remote technical assistance for farmers and agribusinesses. With little understanding of the realities of each country’s pandemic situation, POA’s HQ team realized that a decentralized CLA approach to each country’s operations would provide field teams autonomy to react to their specific situation and provide valuable feedback to HQ and each other. POA’s CLA approach focused on creating spaces to share experiences across countries while using field data and outcomes to create best practices. Collaboration and learning took place as field teams shared their experiences and their outcomes while the HQ team worked to standardize the new protocols across countries. As a result of POA’s CLA approach during the pandemic, field teams were able to address problems in their individual contexts rather than accommodate a rigid framework, leading to better development outcomes and improved livelihoods.

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