Country-led development is key to sustainability. We need to know what lasts to do more of it after we leave. What worked best? What should we never do more of? We don't know. 

$1.5 trillion of international development assistance by just the US and EU since 2000 alone is unevaluated for sustainability! Without knowing this, we design based on what we want to give rather than on what people can self-sustain.

We founded Valuing Voices to listen to stakeholders and build an evidence base around sustainability of project outcomes and impacts. Fieldwork (always co-led by national evaluators) explores what communities and their partners could self-sustain and how we can:

Shift the development model from what we donors/ implementers think is best to what communities think is best for them

Document what communities have sustained themselves or even revised differently– and designing that way from now on

Become an advocate for the communities we serve – by seeing ourselves as them, Prioritizing country-led 'development' and learning policies

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We all want people to be able to feed themselves, be healthy and for communities to thrive. Most development projects help people – but how sustainably? 

Valuing Voices of those at the center of development means creating opportunities to listen to what our 'participants' – the women, men, youth and elders we serve – feel they could self-sustain after projects closed.  It means learning from the past successes and failures to design anew for sustainability, in a transparent and accountable way that builds country-led development.Valuing Voices was founded to advocate for and provide data around the sustainability of project results. 99% of the time, donors and implementers do not return to international development projects after they close to assess and learn from what partners and participants could sustain themselves. 

$5 trillion has been spent on foreign aid since 1945 and  $137 billion was spent in 2014 on development projects yet shockingly, hundreds of thousands of projects are unevaluated for what 'development' has been 'sustainable'. New policies, partnerships and funding are needed to learn about what we did right to do more of it and for country-led development leadership and sustainability to grow.

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Services: Stakeholder Engagement

We all deserve respect and trust that we can self-determine our lives. Yet too often projects are designed in the US and Europe based on what we want to solve without participants and partners informing what needs they most want our help to address.

Respectful design includes input early on by partners and participants, and feedback throughout implementation and after close-out. Designing for local self-sustainability involves learning what works best with them to inform future project content and funding. Information such as sustained return on investments from our projects for country nationals as well as donors is real accountability.  We need to ask community and local NGO, government, private partners:

* What do you feel is the return on investment? What can donors learn from what you could self-sustain? More funding is needed – and transparency 

* What is Sustained Excellent Development for them? We need to ask during projects and after they close. What inputs and capacities need to be built?

* How can we best build national capacity to help local stakeholders evaluate us? We have methods for accountability

* Engaging stakeholders in design and M&E for them to continue makes our hard work shine!

* We can help with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) learning, by helping design projects for investment that are impactful and sustained by the communities we want to help be self-sufficient.

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