Adapting development: Improving services to the poor


Authors: Leni Wild, David Booth, Clare Cummings, Marta Foresti, Joesph Wales
Published: 2015
Organisation: ODI
See multimedia resources and report PDF

On current trends, it will take decades – if not longer – to bring basic services of adequate quality to the world’s most disadvantaged people. Meeting this challenge demands a radical departure from the MDG approach: extra funding will not be enough, and broad calls for ‘good governance’ or ‘inclusive institutions’ will miss the point.

This report argues that if we are to avoid reproducing the pattern of uneven progress that has characterised the MDG campaign, there must be more explicit recognition of the political conditions that enable or obstruct development progress. In this context, domestic reformers and their international partners must pursue innovative and politically smart ways to tackle the most intractable problems. The report is, therefore, aimed at governments, domestic reformers and at the external actors (donor agencies, NGOs and others) that can support them to do development differently.

Politically smart, locally led development


Authors: David Booth and Sue Unsworth
Published: 2014
Organisation: ODI

This paper is a contribution to ongoing debate about the need for donor agencies to think and work more politically. It presents seven cases of aid-funded interventions that show how donors have been able to facilitate developmental change ‘despite the odds’. The central message is that donor staff were successful because they adopted politically smart, locally led approaches, adapting the way they worked in order to support iterative problem-solving and brokering of interests by politically astute local actors. The seven cases addressed different types of problems, in different contexts. All the interventions resulted in some tangible, short- or medium-term benefits for poor people. In all cases, there is evidence to suggest that the approach adopted was the critical factor in achieving these results. The interventions were also demonstrably more effective than comparable efforts to address similar problems in similar circumstances.

Development Aid Confronts Politics: The Almost Revolution

Authors: Thomas Carothers, Diane De Gramont
Published: 2013
Organisation: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
See a sample chapter on the publisher’s website

A new lens on development is changing the world of international aid. The overdue recognition that development in all sectors is an inherently political process is driving aid providers to try to learn how to think and act politically.

Major donors are pursuing explicitly political goals alongside their traditional socioeconomic aims and introducing more politically informed methods throughout their work. Yet these changes face an array of external and internal obstacles, from heightened sensitivity on the part of many aid-receiving governments about foreign political interventionism to inflexible aid delivery mechanisms and entrenched technocratic preferences within many aid organizations.

This pathbreaking book assesses the progress and pitfalls of the attempted politics revolution in development aid and charts a constructive way forward.