Appropriating Technology for Accountability (X). What has MAVC learnt about supporting work in this field?

Notes from the Appropriating Technology for Accountability, part of the Making All Voices Count program, organized by Institute of Development Studies and held in Brighton, UK, on 25-26 October 2017. More notes on this event: allvoicescount.

What has MAVC learnt about supporting work in this field?
Framer: Fletcher Tembo, Programme Director, MAVC

How you actualize your theory of change as a project deploys? Can you? Should you? Testing is fundamental, and adjusting your assumptions the most clever thing to do. But not only the “theory” has to adapt, but also program management.

In such a flexible, liquid environment, trust and relationships play an important role, as they let you move quickly and with confidence. It is important to include an adequate inception phase for building an appropriate consortium.

Host: Walter Flores, CEGSS (Centre for Equity in Health Systems Governance), Guatemala
Panellists: Helena Bjuremalm, Sida; Debby Byrne, MAVC; David Sasaki, William & Flora Hewlett Foundation; Lu Ecclestone, Department for International Development; Michael Canares, Web Foundation/Open Data Lab Jakarta

How do we turn the new knowledge that we have into new practices?

How do we select people? According to the challenges? Their experience? Their capacity? Choosing is a matter of who you exclude from your project, which is hard. The usual suspects may be good, because they have proven their value in the past, but also bad, just because they are “usual”, meaning that maybe not new people or new approaches will come from them.

Are donors comfortable with experimentation? Sometimes donors find a “window of opportunity” due to some political will to foster a specific issues, and then they take the chance to try something new, with new people. The problem is that these windows of opportunity sometimes remain open for very limited time, and hence programs are designed in a rush, without taking into account all the variables that matter. On the other hand, sometimes there is a sense of urgency to foster a field and when the opportunity comes one feels like it is now or never.

New landscapes come with new approaches and tools: innovative governance work requires innovative monitoring, evaluation and learning.

Having a flexible, multilayer/multistakeholder network can be very handy. Each organization/layer can concentrate on what they do best (draw the general strategy, find the partners, develop the projects, etc.). Rigid and hierarchical structures, who want to have control over the whole program, may not be the best option. E.g. donors should commit the money and get out of the way, after participating in identifying what success looks like. In this new scenario, fostering collaboration instead of competition is the way, especially complementary collaboration.

Grant making architecture should be inclusive by design and more prone to assume risks.

Keys to design proposals: think big, think of the partners, think about the problems to be solved, think about your liaison with other civic organizations and/or individual citizens at large.

Making All Voics Count: Appropriating Technology for Accountability (2017)