The 'causes and conditions' are right for sustainable impact… $100 billion of funding in 2014 alone needs it!
Many of us know that when the time is right, things click into place and manifest, but when they are not yet ripe for change, they won't. It is time to evaluate the sustainabilty of development programs; $20 billion of US assistance in 2014 and $80 billion of EU program assistance in 2014 alone. Valuing participants voices for how sustainably this is spent depends on us.
The Paris Declaration and Accra Agenda for Action are powerful statements by donor countries and recipient countries to share responsiblities as one inter-ministerial coordination site says:
Country-led development is the responsibility of both countries and development
partners. A country, through its senior government leaders, and with input from development partners, civil society and other constituents, must articulate sound policies and advocate for them to become common priorities. Development partners must be willing to listen to and support those priorities. If both parties take a shared role and hold one another accountable, then a relationship built on trust emerges and the outcome is something everyone wants…"
Were the conditions not right for country-led development to appear, the push for strengthening national Monitoring and Evaluation Systems and national evaluator capacity building could not have appeared. Had we not reached a capacity to evaluate at least some projects with a deep desire to understand our impact, our community could not have begun powerful initiatives aimed at understanding impact evaluation – such as multiple-donor-suppored 3ie(albeit focusing on looking for impact within the 'box' of what we expect to see from our project activities). Had funding not appeared to manifest Paris through initiatives such as the New Partnership for Africa's Development (see blog on incentives) and research called Time to Listen (see blog on grassroots evaluation), we could not begin to see paticipants as our true clients and real partners for great programming.
Finally, were these all not present, I could not have put myself into the shoes of the Malian woman, looking across the breadth of our 52 year-long-lives. I imagined her seeing projects coming and going from her community, most doing good for the years they were there, but with none of them there long enough, or being designed to achieve what communities felt the sustained impact their projects should have. Until now, few asked her opinion on what activities helped her most and designed flexible-implementation projects that she kept informing with feedback based on what worked best amidst change. No one had asked her and her community to evaluate projects themselves, and tell us what they wanted, what had made them the most resilient and 'developed' to never need our assistance again. We can and must value the voices, ask 'her' during current implementation, at close out and long after projects end. The causes and conditions are right. Now.