Pablo Yanguas

Political Analysis / Anti-Corruption / Adaptive Development

Tag: Governance

The DDD Manifesto

Statement from the October 2014 ‘Doing Development Differently’ workshop [re-posted from here]

Too many development initiatives have limited impact. Schools are built but children do not learn. Clinics are built but sickness persists. Governments adopt reforms but too little changes for their citizens.

This is because genuine development progress is complex: solutions are not simple or obvious, those who would benefit most lack power, those who can make a difference are disengaged and political barriers are too often overlooked. Many development initiatives fail to address this complexity, promoting irrelevant interventions that will have little impact.

Some development initiatives, however, have real results. Some are driven domestically while others receive external support. They usually involve many players – governments, civil society, international agencies and the private sector – working together to deliver real progress in complex situations and despite strong resistance. In practice, successful initiatives reflect common principles.

  • They focus on solving local problems that are debated, defined and refined by local people in an ongoing process.
  • They are legitimised at all levels (political, managerial and social), building ownership and momentum throughout the process to be ‘locally owned’ in reality (not just on paper).
  • They work through local conveners who mobilise all those with a stake in progress (in both formal and informal coalitions and teams) to tackle common problems and introduce relevant change.
  • They blend design and implementation through rapid cycles of planning, action, reflection and revision (drawing on local knowledge, feedback and energy) to foster learning from both success and failure.
  • They manage risks by making ‘small bets’: pursuing activities with promise and dropping others.
  • They foster real results – real solutions to real problems that have real impact: they build trust, empower people and promote sustainability.

As an emerging community of development practitioners and observers, we believe that development initiatives can – and must – have greater impact.

We pledge to apply these principles in our own efforts to pursue, promote and facilitate development progress, to document new approaches, to spell out their practical implications and to foster their refinement and wider adoption.

We want to expand our community to include those already working in this way.

We call on international development organisations of all kinds to embrace these principles as the best way to address complex challenges and foster impact. We recognise the difficulties, but believe that more effective strategies and approaches can generate higher and lasting impact. Continue reading

Catching up with Sierra Leone: The numbers

Ph.D. dissertations are a funny thing: some form the basis of a life-long examination of a single topic, some serve as training or staging grounds in which a new researcher can cut her teeth, and yet some may foreshadow future work in ways that are not easy to anticipate. My job in Manchester seemed at first to take me in an entirely new direction away from that 2012 Cornell dissertation, and yet recent turns of events keep bringing me back to it with a vengeance. Between 2009 and 2011 I became a bit of an expert on Sierra Leone and Liberia – or more specifically on their politics and post-conflict reconstruction. Now that the world’s gaze is once more fixed on the Mano River region – sadly for tragic reasons – I have decided to catch up with Freetown and Monrovia in order to find out whether my claims back in 2011 retain any scrap of relevance a couple of years – and elections – later. Continue reading

Marxodology: Good governance

Wizards and clerics, democracies and autocracies

This years marks the 40th anniversary of the publication of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D). For those unfamiliar with it, D&D was the grandfather of tabletop roleplaying games (RPGs), which mix storytelling, improv, strategy and chance: each player assumes the role of one character with attributes and skills, vices and virtues, and together they face the challenges put forth by one of the players – the Dungeon Master or Game Master – who controls the narration and plays all other characters and creatures. It’s a simple notion, but over the last forty years D&D has had a considerable influence on a large swatch of modern pop culture. Continue reading

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