FYI: What We're Reading

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David Jacobstein

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Mar 29, 2024, 5:22:48 PMMar 29
to TWP.Learning, Adaptive Development | #AdaptDev, LCD TA SUB Working Group Mail List (USAID)
Hi all,

Greetings from an unseasonably cold DC area - lots of beautiful blossoms to look at, but not so inviting to be outside. But in any kind of weather, finding a cozy spot to read is a great way to spend some time, so it's a good time to have a new list of great reads! Here's what we've found lately:
  • I'm tremendously excited about a new Social Accountability 3.0 Framework that offers a comprehensive review and consideration of how we approach social accountability, grounded in a lot of evidence. You can find the research behind it as well as the full article here. It draws on a meta-analysis of 157 cases implemented by diverse civil society organizations around the world as well as the lived experience of practitioners who are locally leading the work. Features include: nurturing and leveraging relationships – the connective tissue of social accountability, re-signifying the value add of local and international backbone actors, or using short-term projects to play the long-term game (i.e. layering). This is one of the more significant advances in social accountability, and has some really strong implications for how we consider the value-added of one project's investment, and how we theorize the various pathways through which social accountability can contribute to various other outcomes of interest. It's well worth a detailed read; for a short summary, also see the brief linked on the same page.
  • This has been a big month in terms of policy for us here in the Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance Bureau, as our new DRG Policy was released in draft and received reams of feedback! One of its key elements is looking to further how work across sectors contributes to DRG outcomes; toward that end, I thought it was fascinating to read this detailed working paper on community health workers in Chhattisgarh India branching out beyond health. In particular, the question of identity serves as a key bridge that drove the workers to engage more broadly in activism beyond their initial efforts. Lots of food for thought around how we can break down donor stovepipes when we see people holistically and connect our work to support change in one domain with their own interests, identities, and engagement more broadly.
  • Also of significant note have been a series of profiles in local leadership in Thinking and Working Politically, including a great chance to hear from some folks in their own words. This is one of the strongest value propositions of development becoming more locally led, and the breadth of experience and perspectives is remarkable. 
  • A very robust review from Chemonics on how local partners are meeting the moment, which had two key concepts that stuck with me - the multidirectional capacity sharing that many actors both seek and observe in good projects; and the deliberate emphasis on measurement, including in particular conveying what impact is and where it is seen rather than working to externally-defined plans and expectations.
  • Continuing on the measurement theme, this paper leverages the SPARK project to look at how we can find early signs of responsiveness in advocacy programming. It is nicely drawn from practice rather than first from theory, and offers good distinctions around significance and focus on variety rather than average effect seen. It also discusses the need for advocates to understand fiscal space and maneuvering room in order to assess whether they are getting to change, as well as more tangible signposts of when initial actions are aggregating or not. It also connects with a new paper from Guerzovich and Wadeson that offers a relational rubric for prospectively examining evidence of sustainability; the rubric itself is very clear and easy to use, and integrates relationships from theorizing about change into monitoring for progress usefully.
  • On the anti-corruption front, a great discussion of how framing has driven measurement in the field, tracing three different paradigms over time. A great reminder of how what we measure shapes what we see, and is in turn selected by how we define progress.
  • Several deep reflections on shifts within health programming to try to collectively transform toward more locally-led programming discussed here, with some clear lessons and takeaways.
  • A nice article on M&E in complex space, though for those of us who have followed UNDP's M&E Sandbox, it's also sadly the signoff of Soren Haldrup from leading that effort (on to bigger and brighter things though).
  • It's not as newly-produced, but I was reminded again how excellent the market systems folks are in looking at MEL, and this set of materials, especially the one for practitioners to assess systems change, is clear and practical.
  • A fascinating article from Alice Evans on the connection between hierarchy and patriarchy, explained across several societies.
  • For those wanting longer reads, a book-length review of pathways to development that thoroughly details how and when elites with power commit to development bargains, and stick to them over time. It's essentially the story of development with a more robust TWP lens to explain why decisions are made, and the type of read that should be more mandatory in development studies programs.
  • A good study of pathways to democratic resilience out of IFES, with practical language and clear ability to leverage over time (though I wish we could see more positive rather than "negative freedom" framing of preparation to link it with the idea of strengthening or having healthier democracies, rather than just waiting for threats).
  • A nice review of USAID's Powered by the People program and how it represents the adoption of a movement mentality, by Ben Naimark-Rouse.
  • A thought provoking discussion of systems change in terms of breadth and depth, where changing mental models (long a focus of TWP programming) is more of a depth approach, but also noting that rather than deep change being paramount in a hierarchy, it is probably necessary to have a series of kinds of change together to make systemic change lasting, not brittle.
What has caught your eye lately? What do you think of these articles? We look forward to hearing from you all!

Best,

David

David Jacobstein 

DRG Policy, Learning and Integration Office

United States Agency for International Development

T: (202) 390-1333

djaco...@usaid.gov


Context-Driven Adaptation Collection:

David Jacobstein

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Apr 3, 2024, 7:30:14 AMApr 3
to TWP.Learning, Adaptive Development | #AdaptDev, LCD TA SUB Working Group Mail List (USAID)
Hi all,

Apologies, one of the links was incorrect - the working paper on community health workers in Chhattisgarh India branching out beyond health should have been linked here.

Best,
David

David Jacobstein 

DRG Policy, Learning and Integration Office

United States Agency for International Development

T: (202) 390-1333

djaco...@usaid.gov


Context-Driven Adaptation Collection:


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