By Laura Boyette and Teodora Mihaylova
It is only natural that the world of international development would itself develop and change over the years to adapt to the changing landscape of needs and local capacity.
At a panel discussion at Georgetown University entitled “The Changing World of International Development,” three development practitioners from leading organizations provided some insight into how their work has changed over the years. The speakers emphasized how local ownership has become central to the planning and implementation of their projects.
Traditionally, the development field was focused on delivery of goods and services, especially in regions suffering humanitarian crises due to natural disasters or conflict. Over the years as the importance of local ownership of development projects became evident, the development landscape shifted to focus more on the provision of supplies and money to local actors to deploy as they saw fit. Both approaches have limitations: a mismatch between resources available and local needs, limited local capacity, delays that significantly diminish chances of success, and often corrupt actors at various points of delivery.
These days, international development actors are focusing more on building local capacity and less on the delivery of goods and services. Building local capacity in service delivery, project management, governance, advocacy, and democratic institutions does not just meet the immediate needs of the community. It also increases the sustainability of development interventions beyond the life of a particular project. Increasing local capacity both ensures the success of the project and creates a multiplier effect as local organizations take over responsibility.
CIPE’s model is locally oriented and and locally driven. Building local capacity has been central to the CIPE strategy for 30 years. Whether it’s through our national business agenda process or through legislative outreach programs that help educate local members of parliament or assembly on the economic and democratic policies and their potential impact, CIPE’s international work focuses on empowering local partners to become agents of change in their communities.