Development Cooperation Handbook/Issues/How to design and manage successful cooperation programmes?

Issue 8
Development effectiveness and coherence

Episode 5 - MDG 5: Improve maternal health
playlist on YouTube

Relevant chapters in this handbook
Designing and Managing Programmes
Designing and Managing Projects
Partnership Management
Defining Cooperation



The development cooperation stories we are are narrating here intend to bring the viewer close to the ground reality of development cooperation work and "give a face" to the development actors. We did not select "the best examples" and these stories are not intended to be models of effectiveness, but rather "ordinary" instances of the challenges and the spirit of development cooperation work.
However we also wanted to know, from the main actors and other stakeholders, what are the factors that make project successful. And we also what, according to them, are the factors establishing coherence for development.
Some said that good professionalism of development workers and of their Organizations is the key determinant of project success. Expert organizations knows how important is to get on board the local communities, and how to streamline successful experiences into more encompassing policies.
Other emphasized that it is the human element that really makes a difference: the sincerity, conviction and dedications of actors values more them professionalism. And that at the end it is not the managerial skills of professional organizations that that determines lasting changes but political actions and the role of local community to raise their voice and take a role in policy making.

The OECD defines the concept of policy coherence for development (PCD) as “ working to ensure that the objectives and results of a government’s development policies are not undermined by other policies of that same government which impact on developing countries, and that these other policies support development objectives where feasible.
But while multilateral conferences have also their role to play in determining the world cooperation climate, what really allows development is the capacity of policy makers to bring justice and peace in the societies where development has to take place.



We asked different stakeholders to share with us their experiences about good projects that have helped make good progress achieve towards the MDGs and "bad projects" that failed to deliver the expected results. We also want to compare the aptitudes of the peoples of different nations in identifying what are the factors establishing coherence for development.

Below are the answers we collected. The work is in progress and you are welcomed to contribute.
Click on the name of the contributor to go to the page with the full interview.

Coordination and commitment are the main coherence drivers ⇒ full interview

Skype - 07 Sept 2010
There are two major factors that establish coherence for development. One is good coordination, between the world’s governments, international agencies and the international community as well as their coordination with local NGOs and civil society and community based organisations that implement development plans and policies.
The second factor that is very important is the commitment that all of us have that the basic rights of people are ensured and that MDGs are achieved. If we do not have this coordination and commitment, most policies we design – whether affecting economy , social services, financial system of a country- will negatively impact the MDG goals. This is because all MDG goals are inter-related.
So, if an MDG for instance the universal primary education aims at so we must ensure that all policies, whether economic, financial or social are coordinated in order to make this happen.

Catherine Ray - Spokesperson for EuropeAid


EU commitments for development assistance effectiveness

EU Transparency, accountability end effectiveness of EU funded projects - Ray

Catherine Ray - How EU ensures that the money spent for aid is well spent - Ray

Focusing EU Development area on fewer areas with potential higher impact - Ray

Doing our best with limited resources - Andris Piebalgs

Resources are limited but we need an equitable access to them.

We need hope

All policies of the Nations who signed the Millennium declaration should be coherent with the MDGs - B.Hoeper

You cannot "buy" development; beneficiary communities must own the projects - B.Hoeper

Learning from successes

NSP in Afghanistan: a model practice of Governament - NGOs development cooperation - .Haider

In Afghanistan there was a project called NSP (national solidarity project). The interesting things i found was that (1) it was something in the agenda of the government itself, (2) donors without wanting their flags and identity is publicized were ready to back it up and (3) unlike many other projects, this project was a lot more flexible in design, it allowed a degree of flexibility for the project to evolve. The government saw all the local and international organizations as partners so there was a lot of space for dialogue which was created; so realities from the ground as implementation happened were feeding in the design aspect of the program... which changed, in many significant ways. Instead of saying what will happen in the name of development, this project was building on creating local government councils and these councils would then make plans in a participatory way. Their development plans would determine what happens. Yes there was technical support given on budget, questioning who the beneficiary were and help people prioritize... but it was the people's plans and inspirations which were finding space.

Learning from failures

The presumption of foreign consultants who want to superimpose their own ideas on complex societies - .Haider

In a project in Afghanistan, at some point in time, the World Bank or the project management brought in a gender consultant from outside... who probably would have spent a few weeks traveling in a country like Afghanistan and came up with suggestions on what should be done to address gender concerns and empower women.
When some of us read that report we were shocked... for it was obvious! But if we tried to implemented those suggestion in a clear-cut way both the women and us would be thrown out if.
The idea of a foreign consultant coming to a complex society, specially to a post-conflict society like Afghanistan, and making suggestions from a partly feminist and western idea of women empowerment and wanting this to be imposed; it fundamentally a wrong way to go about it.

The problem which arises when the Governments starts implementing NGO success process on a large scale without proper planning - Z.Haider

The self-help group concept came from the NGO world. But at one point the government took over the idea to will promote it. What happens is that when the state decides to implement something which is facilitation oriented and a process driven approach... is that government system and structures are not organized to reward intensive process oriented approach. Measurements of performance is based largely on numbers game. In one of our project in Madhya Pradesh the principal secretary of the concerned department felt "you are doing only 3000 self-help groups in 3 years". The government has 3000 supervisors with 15 Day-care centers each. So each supervisor will set-up a self-help group and the next year each supervisor will train the 15 day-care workers and you will have 10s of thousands of self help groups created in a year. We saw disaster coming! These are intensive relational process where you have to build trust with communities, you need to know them, become an insider. He goes on to give an example of successful government stories on this also, but then the principle changed from the numbers game to merit.

Julian Parr, the Regional Manager South East Asia, Oxfam GB

The importance of evaluation for learning what we have done and improve the quality of what we will do - Julian Parr

Development requires integration - R.K.Pachauri

Shiva Kumar - Development economist

The challenge of bringing forth a culture of evaluation - S.Kumar

Building a strategic partnership and development cooperation effectiveness - Consolo
Fair Relations and Win-Win game - Consolo

In a democracy we need a participated approach to development - Ahluwalia
Delivering results is much more complex than designing Government schemes - social participation is required - Ahluwalia

No scheme is perfect, it is impossible to have a scheme which has zero leakage . When you say that they don't reach at the bottom do you mean that the leakage is 100... absolutely not! Leakage are high, even as high as 30%, but 70% is reaching at people. The other reason people think that the schemes are not having the effect that the effect that were expected, is that the challenges are very complex one... you can have very good schemes but you don't deliver the result.

Many of the human development goals can be achieved top down in an Autocracy, because you can just enforce things. In a democracy you cannot do that.
The other way you do that is social mobilization and social pressure. That requires participation, empowerment, capacity building and social homogeneity.

P. Krishna - Director of Krishnamurti Foundation

It is love, not intellectual ideas, which make us responsible for our neighbors - P. Krishna

Rajesh Kumar Jha , Programme Officer for CWSy

Partecipatory approach - R.K.Jha    

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