insight

Notes: Driving Change in Challenge Contexts

17th September 2015

AGI’s Dan Hymowitz spoke at the ODI Budget Strengthening Initiative’s (BSI) event “Driving Change in Challenge Contexts”.  The day featured panels looking at lessons from successful reforms delivered in difficult contexts, such as fragile states.

Here are a few thoughts on the event from Dan:

A useful day and I particularly liked the focus on what’s worked rather than mistakes and failures.  A few things to highlight:

  • Uganda's Budget Director, Kenneth Mugambe, shared some great lessons from a range of reforms that have taken place over 20-plus years in Uganda.  His point?  Change isn’t a one-off quick fix but takes persistence and consistency over the long-term; a good reminder to impatient development types.
  • I spoke on a panel describing lessons from Liberia’s fight against Ebola, focusing on some of the themes from our report State of Emergency.   I talked about the importance of 1) political will, 2) adaptive, context-specific approaches and 3) government ownership paired with genuinely supportive international support.  
  • Too often it’s easier for us relatively smaller organizations to talk about the importance of adaptive, politically smart approaches to development without considering the constraints larger development agencies operate under.  Kathy Bain from the World Bank gave a great talk about interesting project design approaches that the Bank is trying in Nigeria.  One example of something they’re trying is putting extra emphasis on getting clear on whether there’s a particular window of opportunity for a proposed programme – rather than whether the reform is technically sound.

You can watch the panel session or skip to 28.00 to hear Dan speak.