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Community Contribution

Re-Scoping a Project While Maintaining its Core Objective

CLA Case Competition Red Winner Ribbon

After more than two years of negotiating for permission to initiate a civil society strengthening project in Laos, civil society being a highly sensitive space in which to work, the Lao government informed RTI that their project would not be approved. RTI faced a stark choice: terminate the Local Solutions Support (LSS) project before any technical activities began; or significantly re-scope the original partners, approach, activities, and indicators. USAID afforded RTI tremendous leeway in resolving this challenge. However, to continue the award we had to keep the original objective of strengthening local organizational- and human-capacity to identify and implement local solutions to priority socioeconomic challenges. 

Rather than following the original project design of RTI directly providing capacity development services to independent Laotian non-profit associations (NPAs), and activity grants for socioeconomic projects; we drew upon USAID’s localization emphasis, and adapted the project design to collaborate with Laotian universities as pillars of capacity development service-provision and local socioeconomic development though a service learning framework.

The four main Laotian universities with which we worked had almost no experience partnering on a USAID project; nor providing off-campus capacity development services, leading local development activities, or conducting research to influence public policy. RTI applied the CLA approaches of Adaptive Management and Internal and External Collaboration to first re-design the entire project and learn to work with a new ministry and university partners; and then to adapt and customize our technical tools, management approaches, and results framework to fit government, partner, and USAID requirements and expectations.

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