New DRG resources on locally-led development

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David Jacobstein

Jan 30, 2024, 3:54:50 PMJan 30
to LCD TA SUB Working Group Mail List (USAID), TWP.Learning, Adaptive Development | #AdaptDev
Hi all,

We have some new resources within USAID/DRG, on our spiffy still new-ish DRGLinks site, that I think are so great that I didn't want to wait for a quarterly email to share them. They're helpful because I think they start to get at something difficult to pin down, but really important - the substance of power shifts within the mental models of development. There has been a lot of effort to promote shifting of power as part of supporting more locally-led development, and there has been a lot of attention to empowering local actors to play a lead role in donor programming. Both are important, but they are distinct - after all, donor projects are not the same as development! However, the visible side of the shifts tends to be in programming - how funds flow, who is part of forming an award, or who consults on donor-specific actions like strategies and policies. 

Less visible is what the donor projects are for - do they attempt to deliver public goods and services to people, in a benevolent but paternalistic fashion; or do they seek to further those stakeholders' own efforts to drive change in their societies? Of course, it's a straw man, most good programming does both, but we do need a stronger lexicon and examples of what it means to shift the purpose behind programming and not just the process of programming in such a way that we embrace locally-led development more meaningfully.

Several case studies from some of our projects, as well as several sub-sector evolution papers, try to illustrate what these sorts of shifts look like and what lessons have been learned along the way. The sub-sector evolutions are particularly interesting as they have not been driven by mandates to localize, but by practitioners seeking for more effective programming, and being locally-led has been a welcome addition but not the motivation. While these are by no means a map of what to do, I hope they offer good food for thought and guideposts around what might be possible.



David Jacobstein 

DRG Policy, Learning and Integration Office

United States Agency for International Development

T: (202) 390-1333

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