Devex Opinion: Embrace Risk to Empower Locally Led Development

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    To read the full Opinion piece from Kimberly McClain

    In October 2022, champions of locally led development applauded the release of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Local Capacity Strengthening Policy, an overdue turn in the right direction and a significant step in acknowledging that community groups and stakeholders are central to sustainable development.

    Locally led development demands that funders and international intermediaries loosen the reins on their funds and partnerships. This releasing of control can feel risky, and the USAID policy acknowledges some key points about risk: that programmatic needs and potential benefits should shape risk assessment, and that risk mitigation must not be misconstrued as capacity strengthening.

    But perhaps its most powerful statement on risk appears as a caveat to risk mitigation activities:

    “In actuality, an over-emphasis on compliance or the ability to deliver short-term results can have distorting effects that may increase dependence on international donors and weaken resilience by stifling local revenue generation. Over time, such support can undermine the mission of local organizations.”

    This apparent sidenote struck me as an astute argument for the need for a broader interrogation of risk, accountability, and trust in the development sector.

    As a young professional, I spent almost a decade working for an international NGO implementing official development assistance funds (from USAID and others) through local organizations across three continents. Then, in 2018, I joined Global Fund for Children to co-lead their portfolio of support for local civil society in the Americas.


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0 of 0 posts June 2018