Country-led development is key to sustainability.
We need to design for self-sustainability and enduring impact. Without sustained impact data, we don't know what to do more of that could be self-sustained . What worked best? What should we never do again? We don't know.
$1.5 trillion of international development assistance by just the US and EU since 2000 alone is unevaluated for sustainability and $5 trillion in the last 30 years! Without knowing this, we design based on what we want to give rather than on what people can self-sustain.
'Country-led development' is often a nice phrase with no substance unless we are designing for handover. We need to work differently. Time and wise resource use are of the essence.
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.