The recent report by ICAI demonstrates why Dadamac matters.
ICAI is the Independent Commission for Aid Impact, a body responsible for scrutinising UK aid - ICAI website. ICAI's Report 14, June 2015 was called "DFID's approach to delivering impact - full report. Many of the key points it makes are ones that reflect Dadamac's thinking, experience and concerns. The report helps to explain why we are committed to helping changemakers to become more visible, so that their knowledge and expertise gets included in decision making.
Concerns in Dadamac
Dadamac has a long history of being concerned that top-down projects seem to have little connection with what is really happening on the ground, see:
We're also concerned with:
- The short term "hit and run" approach of external projects, compared to the long term commitment of people we recognise as changemakers in Africa.
- The emphasis on what is easy to measure (short term outcomes that are easy to count) rather than what really matters (long term impact that can be illustrated by anecdotes but relates to qualitative, not quantitative, changes).
- The way top-down projects tend to be in "boxes" (specific sectors and silos) but real-life, locally-responsive, community development is integrated (because communities are made up of families, and in families the concerns of health, food, livelihoods, water, education and all the rest are woven in with each other).
The ICAI report has similar concerns to Dadamac's. It's a 50 page report - full report. I've copied a few areas that illustrate the overlap:
Management Summary pages i and ii
Core elements for achieving more consistent, deeper, maximised and and sustainable impact include the following:
- Invest in long-term impact rather than short-term results....
- Set realistic, context-relevant goals....
- A flexible approach to delivery.... a problem-solving approach, learning as they go...
- Ensure coherent portfolios .... coherence across DFID programmes operating in the same space...
- Quality engagement with intended beneficiaries....
Conclusions and recommendations
Page 40 - DFID's tools and processes need to be re-geared to go beyond the short term and focus on longer term impact.
Page 44 - Recommendation 5 - DFID should engage with intended beneficiaries throughout the programme cycle, in design, delivery and monitoring. DFID should anchor its interventions in sustainable community structures that are integrated into wider governance systems.
More on the report - Launch of ICAI reports 44 and 45 at Africa Research Institute - summary and video
Practical approach to implementing the recommendations
In the past it would have been more difficult than it is now to implement these recommendations. Implementation requires two-way communication.
The communication landscape has been transformed in recent years. Communication between UK and Africa, especially rural Africa, used to be prohibitively slow, expensive and sometimes downright impossible. For organisations like DFID to connect with beneficiaries in the past would have taken a long chain of intermediaries. That chain can now now be much shorter,as Dadamac demonstrates on a regular basis with its approach to two-way UK-Africa communication.