Building the Capacity of Youth as Leaders of Today -The Kampala Principles for Youth Led Development

Jon-Andreas Solberg and Douglas Ragan co-authored a very enlightening  post on UN-Habitat Youth covering five principles of youth-led development that are being utilized by youth programs globally and has begun to influence policy at the local, national and global level. These principles (listed below) originated from an initiative started in 2007 when representatives from  UN-Habitat´s One Stop Youth Resource Centres gathered together in Kampala, Uganda to discuss ways to promote and sustain the capacity for youth to operate as leaders today. The post leads to the key point that youthshould be recognized as key development partners and asset and rights-holders, just as anyone else, young and old, women and men.” 

Kampala Principles for Youth-led Development:

  1.        Youth define their own development goals and objectives;
  2.        Youth have a safe and generative physical space;
  3.        Adult and peer-to-peer mentorship;
  4.        Youth act as role models for other youth;
  5.        Youth are integrated into local and national development programs and     policies.

The full article, including a detailed look at each principle, can be found here.

Methodology of Restless Development

Jamie Bedson, International Director of Restless Development – a Youth-Led Development Agency – has sent us the following perspective on their methodology for community-led development.

Restless Development has been gradually honing its community engagement model over a couple of decades. While it differs across our country programs, essentially it is a model that emphasizes the structure and process of engagement, the “how”  (community-led, recruitment, training, support, safety and security, monitoring) alongside the actual mobilization itself, the “what.”

Sierra Leone was for us a stress-testing of our model – the challenge was to see whether the (specifically adapted) model was robust enough to address those two elements that undermines donor support for community-led intervention more broadly: scale and accountability. At at output level it was successful: mobilizers and the communities they supported developed action plans in more that 8,000 communities and monitored these for 12 months. We are working on the data (from 49,000 mobilizer visits) that we believe will show success in terms of behavior change.

What also became clear though was that though many agencies were doing community engagement/mobilization, there are different interpretations and levels of quality. At one end, training 20,000 Community Health Workers for a day but not knowing what they were doing or where they were after that, compared to a fully structured and maintained network.

I’m attaching here:

We’re still working on a more comprehensive strategy as a part of our upcoming 5 year strategy to be launched in August 2016, but we are certainly placing community engagement as a core element.

Gender & Resilience – A BRACED Working Paper

The Overseas Development Institute, one of the UK’s leading think tanks, recently released a working paper titled Gender and Resilience: from Theory to Practice. The paper is a synthesis of four different case studies, documenting how gender equality can be strengthened through resilience projects. It draws on the experiences of the project Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED), one year after implementation.

BRACED is a program funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). The project was targeted to help the people of the Sahel, East Africa, and Asia to better adapt to the effects of climate change. The program aims to:

  1. Secure, service, and promote trans-border livestock mobility across the Sahel,
  2. Share skills and technology to improve uptake of climate information in Ethiopia,
  3. Support smallholder farms in Nepal to take advantage of economic opportunities and invest in climate-smart technologies,
  4. Build new approaches to knowledge and learning and to influence policies and practices at the local, national, and international level.

The report examines four different case studies, in Myanmar, Uganda and Kenya, Burkina Faso, and Chad and Sudan. The projects worked with many different partners on:

  • Improving information available on climate risks with adaptation approaches and disaster preparedness [Myanmar, Burkina Faso]
  • Building resilient markets, governance, and social systems[Uganda/Kenya]
  • Improving community resilience through climate-smart agriculture, health, and early warning systems [Chad/Sudan]


The report methodology used “writeshops” to conduct research. Writeshops involved the participation of researchers, NGO staff members, policy-makers, farmers, students – anyone involved in the experiences being documented – so as to produce a written output that understands the project more holistically. Each participant contributed his or her own knowledge by drafting a paper and then reviewing the work of others to establish a strong base of many opinions for the project. This is done with the support of facilitators, editors, and logistical staff members.

The writeshop method was pioneered by CLD Movement member, the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction, and has since been adapted by many other institutions, such as the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the International Institute for Environment and Development. BRACED’s Knowledge Managers hope to conduct writeshops twice a year to create publishable research pieces covering different dimensions of resilience-building.

All four studies examined in the ODI Report found that social and cultural norms discriminate against women and girls in a number of ways. Women on average work longer days than men and are paid lower wages. In West Darfur, women work 12-14 hour days while men work 8 hours during cropping season and 4-5 hours per day for the rest of the year. In Myanmar, the estimated annual income for women was $630, and $1,043 for men. Women’s literacy rates continue to be lower than men’s, and women have less control over their rights, entitlements, and resources.

The ODI Report also found that women are significantly less involved in decision-making processes than men, both within households and at the community level. In BRACED’s participatory assessment surveys (BRAPAs) in Burkina Faso, less than 50% of women interviewed felt that they were able to participate in household decision-making, with 27% of respondents saying they did not participate at all.

These inequalities are further exacerbated by the rapidly changing climate. In each of the four cases, women are confined to agricultural roles where crops are increasingly difficult to cultivate and yields are poor. Due to traditional gender roles, females are unable to diversify their livelihood and grow different crops. As climate change reaches extremes as time passes, women are more likely to be impacted significantly as a result, particularly in the four aforementioned target areas assessed.

BRACED offers many recommendations for implementing partners, the BRACED Knowledge Managers, and donors. These include ensuring that projects do not perpetuate instances of social inequality, combating gender-based violence with resilience-building interventions, and sharing knowledge and experience between practitioners with the field experience and the donors and policy-makers involved to ensure a sound community-led approach.

Regardless of the barriers that NGOs face, BRACED concluded that the four case studies require that increased attention is paid to further gender and resilience programs. At the international level, donor commitment is key. The report commends DFID’s requirement for empowering women to be included in proposals. Without it, the Myanmar study would have likely taken a more gender-neutral approach. At the national level, NGOs must collaborate with other like-minded organizations, including UN agencies and community-based organizations and networks. Additionally, advocating for sound policies will be crucial to help support initiatives, such as a law in Uganda encouraging the participation of women in politics.

Most importantly, at the organizational level, a combination of rules and incentives promote a greater emphasis on gender and resilience. The case studies found that it is important to gain the approval and commitment of the senior management in the country, that gender equality must be embedded in the project’s theory of change, and that existing practices must be drawn from in order to achieve success. The case studies additionally identified key members of NGO teams, working specifically on gender empowerment to act as a driver towards its success. For instance, Concern had a special gender representative for BRACED’s project in Myanmar. With these factors in place at each level the project has a greater chance at success, and increases the likelihood that women will be empowered in that community in the future.

To review the full BRACED report, visit BRACED conducts additional projects in Myanmar, Nepal, and throughout the Sahel region, with the specific intention of prepare people in need to be more resilient to climate extremes. DFID funding for BRACED has been awarded as 3-year grants for 15 projects. Further project summaries, such as in Niger, Mali, and South Sudan can be found here.

Righting the Wrong: Oxfam America’s Report on Strengthening Local Humanitarian Leadership

Oxfam America has recently released a report, Righting the Wrong: Strengthening Local Humanitarian Leadership to Save Lives and Strengthen Communities, addressing the shortfalls of humanitarian assistance, and offering solutions to this complex issue.

In 2014, humanitarian assistance hit a record high of $24.5 billion. Within the last 70 years, aid workers have made massive strides in providing life-saving services, such as healthcare, water, and physical protection.

However, demand is rapidly outstripping supply. In 2014 alone, 60 million people were displaced by political oppression and violent conflict. 138 million people were affected by catastrophic climate disasters, and since 1965 the number of these disasters has increased from 52 to an all-time high of 401 in 2005. These projections are expected to continue, as climate change causes more frequent droughts, floods and storms.

Today, only a small fraction of humanitarian aid is provided to local actors. More often, community leaders take direction from international agencies, leaving them in the lesser role of subcontractors instead of equal partners in their own countries. Oxfam America asserts that this arrangement leaves the actors no better suited in addressing a new crisis with autonomy.

Oxfam American asserts that these long-term aid shortages do not have a concrete solution. From 2004 to 2013, donors met less than two-thirds of humanitarian need requested annually. These shortfalls had devastating consequences, such as the World Food Program (WFP) suspending food aid for 1.7 million Syrian refugees in both 2014 and 2015. These cuts can be attributed to weaker economies and large cuts from usual donors such as Australia and Spain. Oxfam asserts that the main problem with humanitarian assistance is that countries and international organizations are not addressing these issues as top policy concerns.


Therefore, humanitarian assistance is often too little too late. As described by former UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland, “Imagine if your local fire department had to petition the mayor for money to turn on the water every time a fire broke out”.

Too often, priorities in donor countries trump those of the in-need recipient countries. For instance, the US frequently provides in-kind food aid from surplus US harvests. This practice can drive down prices in the recipient country and diminish local farm income. This can cause dependence or delays in food deliverance, as was seen with the Haitian earthquake. The US provided 72% of assistance in the form of in-kind food donations, and only 28% as cash transfers or vouchers. By contrast, Canada, Brazil, France, and the WFP provided assistance with food purchases from Haitian farmers.

The report emphasizes that it would be more cost effective to prepare communities in advance for shocks such as floods, earthquakes, and tsunamis, instead of providing assistance after the crisis has occurred. Regardless of this discovery after the crisis of the drought in the African Horn and promises from the UN, donors, and governments, only 0.4% of official development assistance over the last 30 years has been spent reducing the risk of disasters.

In order to fix this broken system, Oxfam America demands that humanitarian assistance must shift towards an emphasis on local actors. The report suggests:

  1. An insistence on more and predictable humanitarian funding
  2. An increase in direct humanitarian funding to national governments, as well as to national and local NGOs
  3. An increase in investment in disaster risk reduction before crises hit
  4. More emphasis on strengthening local capacity

Regardless of amazing accomplishment over time, the humanitarian aid community needs to do better. Crises will continue to accumulate in the future due to climate change and intractable conflicts. As the report concludes, “if we, the international humanitarian community, want to help local communities, we need to start trusting them more with their own future.”



The old saying that “All politics is local” is especially true when it comes to overcoming poverty and hunger. Issues of good nutrition, primary education, primary health care, water and sanitation, skills training, preserving the environment and ensuring public safety are all local issues. Nations can allocate budgets and launch national programs, but actually getting basic public services to work requires good local government.

The global quest to cut hunger and poverty in half by 2015 through achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals has largely ignored local government. Yet now, as the world community considers how to finish the job of ending poverty in the Post-2015 era, it is beginning to “think local.”

Local governments in many of the poorest countries are in bad shape. As a senior Indian politician once told me, “The British created a system to enslave us, and we have carefully preserved it ever since.” By this, he refers to the highly centralized top-down bureaucracies that called the shots in most post-colonial countries. In a situation where teachers and health workers are accountable only to far-distant bureaucrats and not to local communities, you find classrooms and health centers where teachers and health workers simply don’t bother to show up to work.

Rajwanti Singh refused to accept a lesser status in life. Now, after attending Hunger Project trainings, this Indian woman is a highly respected elected leader in her community and has big plans for the future. Hear (and share!) her amazing story. Learn more about The Hunger Project’s work in India.

Local government often lacks resources and decision-making power. In rich countries, local governments may control 20% or more of public monies – in poor countries, they may have only 2%, and the bureaucracy may completely control how they spend it.

The good news is that this is changing. More and more countries are seeing the wisdom of decentralization. They not only discover that “small is beautiful” – they see that it works. Local control of local programs can be more economical, more flexible in meeting local conditions, more responsive in meeting local needs, and better able to mobilize public support. Local control can help resolve regional and ethnic grievances by empowering these groups to achieve their aspirations.

Decentralization is not easy, however. Bureaucrats do not easily relinquish power. The skill levels in impoverished communities can be very low: In Burkina Faso, for example, 90 percent of local elected representatives are illiterate. And, in countries where democracy has been established in a top-down manner, a feudal mindset may still prevail; both the government and the people may not be aware that government should be accountable to the people – not the other way around. Real investments are required to “deepen” democracy – to develop an active citizenry that knows its rights and is able to organize and demand accountability.

Read the full post, and view a video here.

Methodology at Spark MicroGrants

Spark Microgrants works in impoverished communities in Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi, with 116 community partners across the three countries.

Using an in-country fellowship program, Spark trains and employs recently-graduated university students to serve as project facilitators. These facilitators reach out to villages with particularly poor infrastructure, in order to involve them in a six-month planning process of carefully structured weekly meetings.

Community members develop their own project proposal, and Spark awards a one-time microgrant of up to $10,000 to support the initiative’s implementation. Spark additionally provides six months of management support and up to two years of follow up support.

Spark follows five steps within a project in order to catalyze change within a community:

  1. Partnership and Community Building: a leadership committee is elected, a mission statement is developed, and the committee conducts resource analysis and mapping.
  2. Goal Setting: the community brainstorms and creates a goal, develops objectives for reaching this top goal, researches progress towards each objective and prioritizes focus, and identifies a project that will help reach the goal.
  3. Proposal Development: a monitoring and evaluation system is created to track the project’s impact, a plan for implementation is established using action plans and budgets, and risks are analyzed and bylaws are established in accordance with the sustainability plan.
  4. Technical Advisory & Proposal Review: the Spark team and a technical adviser provide feedback, and the proposal is then revised to create a stronger plan.
  5. Implementation: resources are mobilized and implementation begins, Spark provides supporting funds in installments and advocates for transparent and accountable financial management.
  6. Post Implementation: the community participates in the development of an exit strategy, partnerships are built with other organizations, local government, businesses, data is collected and evaluated based on original M&E goals, new initiatives are brainstormed, and key members of the community are trained on the Spark process to facilitate future projects.

The Spark process is centered on 5 core principles:

  1. Cohesion- measured with four different dimensions:
    1. A sense of belonging
    2. A communal approach
    3. Conflict resolution
    4. Social trust and social capital
  2. Civic engagement – determined with three dimensions of participation:
    1. Participation
    2. Commitment
    3. Ownership
  3. Leadership – with four dimensions of measurement:
    1. Extent
    2. Equity and diversity
    3. Quality
    4. Transparency and accountability
  4. Capacities – measured with four dimensions:
    1. Social skills
    2. Project and technical skills
    3. Confidence
    4. Agency
  5. Sustainable local impact projects – measured by project sustainability and the community’s ability to meet their own project objectives.

Nuru International Methodology


Nuru International applies an integrated methodology of community-led development called The Leadership Program, which seeks “to foster an environment of co-creation in which local servant leaders recognize and develop their ability to critically analyze and successfully develop poverty solutions in constantly changing environments.” Nuru aims to remove psychological and physical barriers, so that these new leaders produce genuine discourse about the needs of the community.

Nuru’s methodology, found here in this brochure, is termed “servant leadership“. It is based on the idea that “a leader can achieve more by bringing out the best in those they lead with a service-oriented mindset. To do this, a community leader must “serve” her followers to help them achieve their fullest potential.”

Nuru highlights twelve core traits and actions:

  1. Admit when you make a mistake
  2. Seek to understand
  3. Be together with your people
  4. Do what is right
  5. Speak when something is wrong
  6. Lead by example
  7. Apologize for mistakes
  8. Treat all people equally
  9. Don’t waste resources
  10. Represent your team well
  11. Make sacrifices for your people
  12. Take the initiative to make improvements

Nuru has found with empirical evidence that traditional approaches to management and leadership perpetuates the gap between those in power and those living in extreme poverty. To counter this norm, Nuru seeks to grant agency to the staff and the community. Nuru does this in three ways:

  1. By promoting agency and dignity of the local staff
  2. By sustaining opportunity structures to encourage critical thinking, feedback and debate
  3. By allowing local staff to manage their programs and make all decisions

With these steps of co-creation, Nuru hopes to grant meaningful power to those in the community living in poverty by engaging in discourse to shape their own futures.


Hunger is not inevitable. It is not too big of a problem to solve. In fact, it has improved dramatically in just the last 30 years. Indeed, according to international agencies like the World Bank and United Nations, ending extreme poverty and hunger by the year 2030 are an ambitious, yet achievable goal, in need of transformational policies that address inequality and boost shared prosperity. Ending hunger by 2030 is possible. Here’s why:

Contrary to popular belief, world hunger has, on the whole, improved. Since 1990-92, the number of hungry people in the world has declined by 209 million people, despite an increase in world population of two billion.

Many countries have greatly reduced or eliminated hunger in just 25 years. Vietnam reduced hunger from 45% in 1990-1992 to 13% in 2012-14. China reduced child stunting–having inadequate height for one’s age—from 32% in 1990 to 8% in 2010.

Read the full post here.


Throughout Africa, South Asia and Latin America, Hunger Project programs operate in rural and sometimes remote communities. Since we began monitoring programs using cutting-edge mobile technology, areas without internet connection have posed a challenge for our committed Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) team.

To meet these challenges, The Hunger Project has implemented the ThunderPlug®.

ThunderPlug® is a compact device that runs the server of iFormBuilder (the cloud-based mobile data collection platform that we use to monitor programs) without an internet connection. ThunderPlug® allows local Hunger Project staff to capture, sync and view data without requiring internet access.

The device essentially acts as a local area network that, when within 50 meters, will sync data from any assigned mobile device. The data is then stored locally on the ThunderPlug®, which frees up space on the mobile devices collecting data. ThunderPlug® then compacts the data allowing shorter transmission time of the data to the server once plugged into an ethernet outlet.

To read the full post, click here.