The White House Summit on Global Development: Celebration, Legacy, and Looking Forward

The Obama administration took July 20th to celebrate almost eight years of global development policies, strategies, and initiatives. The summit hosted six panels around youth, partnerships, governance, food security, energy, and global health. Each panel discussed successes and lessons learned, many of which hold the essence of the principles of community-led development. Practices like subnational government focus, empowerment of youth and women, and forging partnerships across sectors were well celebrated topics and panelists urged these trends to continue.

rajaniRakesh Rajani, the Director for Global Partnerships at the Ford Foundation, participated in the ‘Transparency, Accountability, and Open Government’ panel and spoke generously about strategic opportunities to work with subnational governments. In response to a question from moderator Ambassador Samantha Power about ways the United States government should use the next generation of Open Government Partnership action plans, Mr. Rajani emphasized the point that “people don’t live in national governments, they live in subnational governments: villages, communities, cities,” and urged that the next big opportunity for Open Government Partnership is to focus on the subnational level. This sentiment was echoed in a later panel on partnership, Partnering to Finance the Sustainable Development Goals, by moderator Marisa Lago who vocalized the importance of working with “municipalities, [and] states that have an interest and have their own domestic resources”. Experts from multiple panels spoke to the advantages of engaging local and regional governments: leverage local investment and utilize local resources to achieve broader goals. Community-led development is just that, development from within communities. A shift in focus from sovereign governments to municipalities is a step in that direction.

The Hunger Project recognizes the importance of engaging women in leadership roles as well as unleashing their economic potential. The panel on food security, ‘Feed the Future: Partnerships for a Food-Secure 2030’ mentioned often the importance of including women in the progress seen in food security and referenced the successes already witnessed with the improvements in women’s status and access to markets. The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has tracked, monitored, and published data on the empowerment of women in agriculture. Shenggen Fan, Director General at IFPRI, mentioned that the Feed the Future uses IFPRI’s Women Empowerment in Agriculture Index to track progress in women’s empowerment in nineteen countries. During the panel on global health, ‘Transforming Global Health through Evidence and Partnerships’, Michelle Nunn, CEO of CARE, said that one of the most important things the development community needs are “comprehensive change and systemic solutions,” like “empowering women and looking at [development] through a gender lens.” In addition to women’s empowerment, unleashing the power of youth is equally as important. The panel ‘Engaging Generation Now’ highlighted the importance of programs that engage youth and give them access and exposure to leadership positions. An investment in women and youth is one of the smartest and most strategic methods that is needed to ensure the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Another common theme from the summit was to work with new partners across sectors and forge new partnerships at all levels. Willy Foote, founder and CEO of Root Capital, mentioned the opportunities to learn from coordinated, multi-stakeholder approaches to work across sectors that leverage a diversity of actors and their unique assets on the panel on food security. This is necessary in more fields than food security; almost every single panel focused on the importance of forging cross-sector partnerships to achieve ambitious goals. Pape Gaye, President and CEO of IntraHealth International, during the Transforming Global Health panel stated that “the SDGs are forcing us to think outside of our silos,” and went on to describe the critical necessity of cross-sector programming. Integrated responses and programs were highlighted in every panel. Partnerships that leverage the unique skills and assets of diverse partners forge smarter, more effective programs.

The White House Summit on Global Development was a day for the Obama Administration to celebrate its track record and give unofficial recommendations for the next President. Strategic patience, a term used mostly to refer to the United States’ foreign policy directive for North Korea, got a second chance for a life with more positive connotation. Panelists were optimistic about the successes they’ve seen to beget more success, but asked for strategic patience from all actors. The shift in discourse and intent from ‘aid’ to ‘investment’ has brought about a new need for sustained long-term vision and patience to achieve much needed ambitious goals. We need to work quickly, but most importantly we need to make sure we work strategically and with purpose.  

USAID “Acting On The Call”

USAID has recently released their June 2016 “Acting On The Call: Ending Preventable Child And Maternal Deaths Report”. This report’s main focus is to address equity in USAID’s 24 priority countries. With detailed charts and briefs of the improvements made this year, there is also a series of suggestions  in which programs can provide new solutions to better approach equity.

The Hunger Project works with 8  of USAID’s 24 priority countries. To provide THP supporters with a more relatable guideline on the report , below will be a mix of visuals and short briefs of each THP countries yearly improvement and what still needs to be done.

 Bangladesh 1


-The National Fistula Strategy was approved to reduce the burden among those living with fistula.

-Two hundred dedicated Severe Acute Malnutrition units were established in public health facilities.

-A Memorandum of Understanding between Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, and Bangladesh Garment Manufacturing Exporters Association was signed to expand FP services to reach garment factory workers in over 40 garment factories.

Equity Approach

-Supporting increased antenatal care (ANC) for women through CHW outreach, particularly to the poorest women.

-Reducing gender- based violence among the most vulnerable populations.


Ethiopia 1.png 


-USAID provided expertise and assistance to the government of Ethiopia to develop, revise, and implement key strategies and guidelines.

-USAID contributed to the roll out of community-based newborn care in 18 zones/196 districts in rural areas, and partnered with the GoE and the Ethiopian Pediatric Society to develop a comprehensive proposal to implement the “Helping Babies Survive’ program in 180 hospitals.

Equity Approach

-Collaborating with the GoE to improve the health of Ethiopians focused on the most vulnerable women,girls,newborns, and children under the age of five.

-Supporting expansion of community-based health insurance schemes that reached 6.5 million people this year.
Ghana 1.png


-Incorporated chlorhexidine and antenatal corticosteroids into the Essential Medicines List of Ministry of Health .

-Developed costed implementation plan for increasing quality family planning services.

Equity Approach

-Ensuring services in some of the most undeserved areas of the country-specifically the Northern region- to address lagging health indicators.

-Rolling out the national policy for Community-based Health Planning Service zones , which serve as the first point of care in many communities.

India 1


-Established quality improvement teams in health facilities across High Priority Districts, resulting in a 13 percent decline in neonatal mortality at USAID supported facilities.

-Supported the Government of India (Gol) in hosting the third global Call to Action Summit, where the 2015 Acting on the Call report was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Equity Approach

-Supporting the National Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCH+A) Unit that monitors the progress in improving key health outcomes in 184 High-Priority Districts across the country.

-Collaborating with the private sector to help it comply with, and take advantage of , a recent law mandating certain companies to invest in Corporate Social Responsibility activities.

Malawi 1


-Conducted training of trainers on postnatal care. Postnatal care registers were printed out and distributed to all facilities in the country to enable better monitoring of quality service provision for newborns.

-Integrated family planning and immunization services, (a recognized high-impact practice) wee rolled out in two districts.

Equity Approach

-Improving equity and efficiency in the delivery of quality Essential Health Package services through a human rights-based approach.

-Outreach, including mobile clinics, to overcome barriers to serving hard to reach populations.

Mozambique 1.png


-The Ministry of Health adopted a National Behavioral Change Strategy for Nutrition.

-The National Fortification Policy has been adopted and includes mandatory fortification of five key staple foods, and the phased roll out of a national micro nutrient powder program.

Equity Approach

-Expansion of high-impact, evidence-based interventions, including; iCCM to address the major diseases responsible for under-5 deaths, including recognition of danger signs’ misoprostol for the prevention of postpartum hemorrhage; and chlorhexidine during newborn cord care.

-Focusing maternal health service on adolescents, with programs aiming to increase both the capacity of communities and the responsiveness of the Ministry of Health to be to meet the growing needs of this sizable population of young mothers.


Senegal 1.png


-Provided technical assistance to the Ministry of Health to elaborate, validate, and disseminate a national nutrition strategic plan and national family planning framework strategy.

-USAID has increased the availability of equipment for newborn care in 80 percent of facilities in 10 regions, scaled up availability of misoprostol for postpartum hemorrhage to over 979 health huts, and scaled up use of chlorhexidine for newborn sepsis to over 1,200 health huts.

Equity Approach

-Working to reduce inequities and reach the most vulnerable in line with the GoS vision in the Plan Senegal Emergent of “a Senegal where all individuals, all households and all communities enjoy universal access to promotional, preventive, curative health services of quality, without any form of exclusion.

-Supporting the creation and expansion of mutuelles, community-based health insurance, a cornerstone of the GoS effort to ensure access to essential health services throughout the country.


Uganada 1.png


-Enhanced services in the Southwest region through the regional integrated health program, which incorporated support for maternal and child health and family planning to improve overall health outcomes.

-USAID has been included in the GFF and is supporting completion of the costed RMNCAH plan, which will improve coordination of RMNCAH.

Equity Approach

-Developing integrated programming in regions with district-wide support to scale-up service delivery access points and thereby reduce health inequities.

-Improving access to care across programs through:

-Outreach service delivery(in addition to facility service support)

-Targeting populations with high burden of disease/death (e.g. youth, specifically girls).


The month of all things CLD

The month of June has been the golden age for all things CLD. With new commitments made between international banks as well as organizations   redesigning their commitments with each other

Beginning with the Women’s Foreign Policy meeting there was a debrief on the multitude of changes that need to be addressed in the development world. One of them being a humanitarian issue and how organizations can better manage their appeal processes by reducing the amount of funding dedicated to appeals. The countries that are receiving the most aid appeal money have several conflict induced areas,which usually stay in conflict for a longer period of time than the duration of appeal money they receive. Refugees are also a major aspect of the humanitarian issue because they tend to depend on the aid for up to 17 years. Refugees who are not included  in the area they currently  inhabit which make it difficult for them to find the proper jobs or receive the proper education. There becomes a level of dependability on the money, a reality that comes with the issue of refugees and dislocated peoples. The more reasonable solution would be to change the way we approach crisis response issues and determine a way to approach it from the roots. One avenue is to take action domestically, like the US government providing 1 million jobs for refugees ,as well as providing education for their children, and a secure life(“Women’s Foreign Policy”).

From a development perspective, there was an issue on figuring out a way in which organizations can tackle vulnerability amongst smaller communities in aid receiving countries . The vulnerable people in this situation are women and children which can be difficult in  determining a way to make them more included in the community leadership. Women are the backbone of all of these communities, and excluding them from any decision process to “better the community” would be a disservice to the people.

 The World Bank’s IDA briefing discussed more ways to proportionally distribute money, support, and time to refugees and also took time to highlight the the small organizations that are doing the best they can to sustain these under-developed communities. IDA 16-18 were used as guides as well as standards to uphold for the upcoming changes to be made.

The biggest concern is deciding how we now more diligently and strategically approach crisis response, especially during a time with an increasing number of individuals seeking refuge. With this issue also comes a need of major increase of resources in the countries that are considered more at risk. In most of these communities, there is a disparity within the local government being able to provide the proper necessities in these states

One way to improve these situations would be to improve inclusivity. By providing the option for women to have jobs in different fields it can support the process of closing the gender gap. This will provide a stable foundation for generations to follow and eventually change

gender strategy. Which means that the goal will be to close the generation gap on women who didn’t have the opportunity to get the proper education that their children would hopefully be able to have.

Roots of Development – Methodology

Who are we & what we do.

For the past 10 years, Roots has been working on La Gonave, Haiti’s largest island. La Gonave is home to approximately 120,000 people who are largely under or unemployed. Many of the island’s residents live in extreme poverty with limited access to basic services, such as clean water and healthcare. The needs and interests of local communities rarely get political traction, and the local private sector is weak due to the island’s remote location, lack of basic infrastructure and economic opportunities.

Roots works in one of La Gonave’s eleven municipalities. We have been helping the people of Gran Sous successfully form and strengthen a community-based organization (“CBO”) that represents the local population, and has the capacity to manage and protect the population’s interests. We focus on strengthening the CBO’s organizational capacity over building infrastructure, so the CBO is actually able to manage and maintain its local resources, including infrastructure. Roots also supports the CBO in setting its priorities and development goals as well as managing and maintaining its efforts.

On the field, Roots provides the services of professional facilitators that deliver capacity-building workshops and trainings particularly catered to the CBO’s structural and operational needs. Roots also raises funds to finance initiatives aimed at furthering the capacity-building process, and facilitates connections between the CBO and other potential partners (e.g., In 2015, Roots helped the CBO partner with Acccess Haiti, an internet provider, to install an antenna in Gran Sous and provide free internet access to the community center built and managed by the CBO. Also, members of the community now have access to Internet at a monthly fee).

Our plan is to continue strengthening the CBO’s local capacity so it can more effectively improve the quality of life of the community it serves. Additionally, we plan to expand Roots’ work to the other municipalities of La Gonave. By scaling up Roots’ impact, we will help empower a larger population to take charge of its own development. We will also provide the international development world a sizeable example of a development approach that is truly sustainable.

Roots’ capacity-building approach revolves around two main components First, we provide the CBO with the tools to understand and maintain the characteristics that make-up an effective CBO. Core skills built under this component include:

  • workshops on the principles of community-driven development
  • workshops on leadership
  • workshops on diversity
  • workshops on democratic principles
  • workshops on conflict management and resolution
  • workshops on effective meeting administration

Second, we help the CBOs build the skills needed to effectively plan, manage and execute community projects. Activities carried-out under this component include:

  • workshops on project management skills
  • workshops on soliciting and building partnerships
  • workshops on strategic planning
  • workshops on small business/entrepreneurship
  • workshops on business administration
  • workshops on computer skills

By means of the capacity-building workshops and other support we provide, the community in Gran Sous built and now benefits from new and better social and economic infrastructure, including three municipal water purification systems, a non-perishable goods communal business, a solar powered community center, as well as 19 houses built for local families most affected by a series of hurricanes in 2008 and an earthquake in 2010.

Roots’ approach empowers local leadership and promotes local ownership. In May 2016, the CBO partnered with The Parsons School of Design to install solar street lamps in key areas around the community. The CBO held multiple community meetings during the planning phase of the project. During these meetings, the community asked questions, voted on the locations where the lamps would be placed, decided who would contribute to the local resources needed to install the lamps. The morning of the installation, residents were digging holes and mixing concrete since 5 a.m. By noon, all five solar street lamps were up and functioning.

The empowerment and ownership resulting from a CBO’s ability to cater to its community’s needs, combined with our emphasis on democratic processes and inclusive leadership, results in the sustainability of our approach.

In the past decade, Roots has seen (watched) the Gran Sous community grow more united and create an atmosphere of collaboration where homegrown solutions are prioritized and local resources are valued. Such an environment is prone to produce local entrepreneurs and leaders who will work to promote the population’s interests. The community now has access to more basic infrastructure, and is better able to manage and maintain it. Moreover, with the help of a skilled CBO, the population will continue reaping the benefits of holistic improvements in its community.

La Gonave’s population is larger than that of 57% of the Caribbean islands (including St. Kitts & Nevis, Aruba, and Granada). Expanding Root’s work to the entirety of the island would allow us to increase our impact to benefit a larger population in independently breaking away from the cycle of poverty by means of a sustainable approach.

Gender 360 Summit Review

 June 15 marked the start of the annual  FHI Gender 360 Summit. This two-day conference provided the development and humanitarian communities a glance of the advancements and  stagnation’s in the major aid receiving countries.  There were breakout groups, called Gender Lounges, for the topic “Creating and Enabling Environment to Advance Adolescent Empowerment and Leadership for Gender Equality”.I was fortunate enough to participate in the round table discussion on HIV prevention and transmission awareness among youth.

 The discussed re informed medicine is best identified as  PReP, a pill that is used to prevent HIV- free  individuals from contracting HIV as well as to prevent the spread of the disease from HIV positive  . PReP is currently not being used by the expected beneficiaries (i.e.adolescent girls and boys) but instead is used  by older women and gay men. A plausible reason for the apparent  usage within the older population is the ability to pay the higher fee for the pill. The PRep pill costs $13,000 per year on average, varying by country. Most of the pill’s recipients have health insurance or some type of health coverage; for the recipients who  do not have the ability of access to this new technology they are expected to pay an annual fee of $70 a year until the pill has been paid for in total.

Raising awareness is one of the more challenging tasks in combating the spread of HIV. In many of these global communities it is not deemed imperative to address the causes and effects of contracting HIV, nor how contraction can be prevented. Tradition and culture are the leading reasons why there is a challenge in  properly educating  adolescent girls and boys on the importance of practicing safe sex. In defense many countries often argue that when a girl has had unprotected sex with an older man in her community she has now become a woman. The danger is know who is willing to protect this young girl from starting  a dangerous communal spread of the virus.

One of the ways to decrease the high STD/STI rates  would be to integrate female and male advisers into the community, to help inform community members on ways to practice safe sex without feeling like there is a tension between tradition or their own personal well being. In order make this transition they must maintain an inclusive mindset to be able to  cater to each individuals needs. Hopefully this method along with many others will help reduce the global  HIV rate  500,000 by 2030.

Below are some helpful links to better understand the goal to reduce the HIV rate  by 2030.



CARE Methodology

Founded in 1945, CARE’s original action plan has evolved from sending care packages overseas to funding and supporting projects that will deliver lasting change. CARE are focused on many different sectors include gender and gender-based violence, responding to emergencies and crises, supporting sustainable agricultural practices, encouraging education for women and girls, developing microfinance systems and other livelihood tools, and all the while promoting good maternal health and supporting those who live with HIV & AIDS. CARE works in 95 countries and their network of efforts is promoting sustainable, dignified change.

The following excerpts are taken from CARE’s website and adapted to explain more fully their different programs and methodologies.


CARE views women’s empowerment through the lens of poor women’s struggles to achieve their full and equal human rights. In these struggles, women strive to balance practical, daily, individual achievements with strategic, collective, long-term work to challenge biased social rules and institutions.

Therefore, CARE defines women’s empowerment as the sum total of changes needed for a woman to realize her full human rights – the interplay of changes in:

  • Agency: her own aspirations and capabilities,
  • Structure: the environment that surrounds and conditions her choices,
  • Relations: the power relations through which she negotiates her path.

Women’s empowerment is a process of social change, and CARE only captures part of its richness when they assess the process of empowerment in terms of its outcomes.

Furthermore, the nature of gender power relations, and the triggers for empowerment, differ from culture to culture and context to context. No standard list of impact indicators can be relevant in all places and times, for all women. For that reason, the SII requires each research team to build a process for exploring gender power relations in context, with the affected stakeholders – both to ground-proof relevant indicators, and to “fill in the spaces” with insight about how changes come about, and what role, if any, CARE’s work has played.

“However, we need a place to start, and that is what the SII’s global women’s empowerment framework tries to offer. It focuses on concrete outcomes for which we can hold ourselves accountable, and organizes the diversity of women’s realities into a shared framework. In each context, we can start to focus our work by linking women’s own definitions and priorities for empowerment to 23 key dimensions of social change which have been shown to be widely relevant to women’s empowerment across many studies and contexts.”


Ending poverty requires addressing the power inequalities between women and men, girls and boys that underpin gender-based violence.

CARE is committed to supporting the empowerment of poor women and girls in their challenges to enjoy happy and healthy lives and to change the contexts in which they live, learn, work and raise families.

This includes the organization’s dedication to working with women and men in all settings to confront gender-based violence, which affects at least one in three women worldwide.

CARE’s holistic approach to gender-based violence combines prevention with comprehensive service delivery, and addresses root causes driving various forms of gender-based violence and gender discrimination.

In more than 40 countries around the world, CARE works with issues of GBV, including providing critical medical, legal, psychosocial and protection services to people experiencing violence (primarily women and girls), and provides local activists with assistance and support to link with others to provide case management to survivors, advocate for improved policies and laws, raise awareness and change local norms that perpetuate violent behavior.

Resources and tools for gender equality and gender-based violence–


CARE is currently assisting with emergency relief in Yemen, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and the Balkans. Every year they are providing support for 12 million people affected by crises and emergencies.


In some countries, the Pathways program is being used. The Pathways approach is based on a global theory of change that addresses the underlying causes of poverty and women’s exclusion in agriculture in each of the countries of implementation: Mali, Ghana, Tanzania, Malawi, India and Bangladesh as well as related initiatives in Ethiopia. Across these contexts, CARE has identified five common and closely interrelated domains of change that must be impacted to achieve the Pathways goal:

  • Capacity. Women need the knowledge, skills, self-confidence and conviction required to succeed in agriculture, business and their roles as individuals and members of their households and communities.
  • Access. Women need access to and control over productive assets and services including land, water, tools, inputs and both financial and extension services.
  • Productivity. Women need the opportunity, knowledge and skills required to enhance the productivity of their land through sustainable agriculture.
  • Household Influence. Women farmers need enhanced influence over household decision making, particularly decisions related to the household division of labor, the use of household income and decisions affecting the food women and their families prepare and consume.
  • Enabling Environment. Both formal policies and informal cultural norms and expectations have significant impact on women’s potential. Both must be acknowledge and affected to achieve household resilience and women’s empowerment.


CARE’s work in health covers many subject areas: maternal health, clean water, family planning, child survival, and supporting those living with HIV & AIDS. Like so many of their other programs, many of the health programs focus on women. Things like collecting water and having good sanitation for girls in school helps women free up more hours of their day for income-generating activities and keeps girls in school, especially after menstruation begins.

More on Integrated health solutions.


CARE understands that so many girls want to be in school but there are often barriers to attendance. Working to mitigate these conflicting factors, CARE supports girls that want to learn.

In addition to promoting schooling for girls, CARE also conducts special youth-centered workshops to build skills and to ensure access to healthcare and other services.

“We recognize that poverty is inextricably linked to social marginalization and discrimination – and our experience has shown that simply providing young people with a few skills, then expecting them to conquer systemic injustices is not effective and does not lead to their empowerment. Rather, large-scale and sustainable change requires addressing laws, policies, gender norms and social and cultural barriers that stand in the way. By creating an enabling and equitable environment where young people can exercise their skills, knowledge and leadership, they are able to step into new roles and lead the change themselves.”

In addition to promoting the education of primary school girls, CARE engages with a more holistic education program for mothers. The SHOUHARDO program in Bangladesh had remarkable success in seeing a 28% reduction in childhood stunting in less than four years- not because of direct food aid, but because of women’s economic and social empowerment programs. These programs were mostly self-help groups that allowed a women’s-only space to discuss problems unique to women. This increased economic performance and resulted in women having more money to feed their families.

Economic Development:

CARE’s microfinance associations, the Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs), are built entirely on member savings and interest from loans; they receive no direct capital investment from CARE. However, their members do receive a year of intensive training from CARE in group dynamics, governance, and in money management. This training enables the groups to become self-supporting, to flourish and even to establish and train other groups. The VSLA approach has unique features that make it a powerful tool both for broadening financial inclusion and for development:

    • It is simple and easily adapted to illiterate group members.
    • It promotes group solidarity and learning, and establishes a vehicle for addressing community development issues.
    • It relies on no infusions of outside funds.
    • It requires no physical infrastructure.

CARE has found that VSLAs meet the need for savings and credit at the very bottom rung of the world’s economic ladder. They create a platform from which the poor can advance to receive the more sophisticated financial services that they inevitably need as their resources, skills and confidence grow.

Additionally, CARE is helping local farmers build capacity and find connections to gain market access and leverage.

It doesn’t stop there

CARE doesn’t just create and execute supportive, community-led programs. Their feedback loops are inclusive and accessible: CARE teams are easy to reach and communicate with. If the community knows that CARE’s program isn’t working, CARE wants to improve their programs with community feedback. CARE also has community scorecards: where the community assess their service providers. This information helps CARE build better programs and ascertain what’s working and what’s not. CARE also has a participatory performance tracker that allows communities to monitor their own community organizations as well as inform CARE about actors that could be doing better, whether that’s local governments or CARE itself.

CARE has built a reputation of long-term, measured work: sticking with communities for the long haul and creating last change.

If you’re interested, here is a video of Emily Janoch, Senior Technical Advisor at CARE explaining more about CARE and how they work.

HLPF 2016: Localizing the SDGs

From 10-20 July 2016, local and regional governments will be in New York to share their perspectives on the implementation of the SDGs with the international community and to launch the Roadmap for localizing the SDGs.

The High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) is United Nations’ main platform for the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals, adopted at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit on 25 September 2015.

The session of the HLPF in July is the first since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. The session will include voluntary reviews of 22 countries and thematic reviews of progress on the Sustainable Development Goals, including cross-cutting issues, supported by reviews by the ECOSOC functional commissions and other inter-governmental bodies and forums.

The Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments has co-organized two side events alongside the formal sessions of the HLPF.

The first, on Localizing the SDGs: transforming global goals into local realities, is co-organized with UNDP, UN Habitat, UCLG and nrg4SD, will be held on Friday the 15th of July, and will see the official launch of the Roadmap for localizing the SDGs.

The second, on Localizing the SDGs: Achieving Global Goals through Subnational Action is co-organized with SDSN, the Office of the Mayor of New York City, 100 Resilient Cities, UCLG, nrg4SD (organizing partners of the Local Authorities Major Group), UNDP, and UN Habitat, and will be held on Tuesday the 19th of July. (Concept note attached)

Counterpart International Methodology

Since their inception in 1965, Counterpart International has been driven by the vision that all people have the right and ability to drive their own destinies. Counterpart takes a building block approach with their local partners to support strong and more resilient communities by developing leaders, strengthening organizations, and fostering multi-sector community partnerships.

Currently working in more than twenty countries, Counterpart International focuses on civil society and governance, health and nutrition, education, livelihoods, and climate resilience. While there are a multitude of programs, each focuses on strong and resilient communities as the foundation for sustainable growth.

Counterpart strongly believes that local leadership is at the center of every solution. Strong communities are built by strong leaders and Counterpart is focused on developing emerging leaders from traditionally marginalized groups like women, youth, indigenous peoples, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and people with disabilities. Building strong leaders and resilient communities, as well as building the capacity of local organizations, is at the core of what Counterpart do.

Local ownership of development is key for sustainable projects and communities. Counterpart uses three guidelines for ensuring the process of development remains rooted in local communities.

  • Maintaining a role as a catalyst and facilitator: “Our role is to offer temporary guidance and resources that provide options and incentives for new ways of thinking and working. Re-aligned incentives determine whether people will try changing traditional behaviors; and they are even more essential for maintaining and spreading new behaviors.”
  • Linking local partners to resources: “Our task is to facilitate linkages that allow people, communities or institutions to access  key resources (partnerships, information, markets, finance and more).”
  • ‘Angel’ investing: “Our resources are initial (and short-term) investments that generate proof of concept for the long-term investors. We work with local partners to identify where that ongoing investment will come from, whether public or private sector. And then we ensure that potential investors are at the table from the get-go.”

Using a system they call the cascading model — where organizations are trained in their methodology and then train others in their own networks — has helped pass forward the skills and knowledge that generate lasting impact in communities. Counterpart strongly believes that as individual organizations emerge as strong agents of change in their communities, the next level of impact comes when they find each other and work together to leverage knowledge and experiences. This model is about learning from the past, from both successes and failures, and using that knowledge to make more informed choices in the future all the while sharing everything with your network.

Sustainable progress is what ensures communities continue to thrive after the initial support of Counterpart has left. Most important is the development of networks that have linked communities together to carry on the valuable work they helped ignite and steward. Counterpart is committed to social sector network development to achieve the highest level of systematic change in every sector in which they work.

For some more in depth studies in Afghanistan and Morocco, click the links. For more information about Counterpart, click here.

Evidence from Bangladesh

Counterpart International recently completed a three-year leadership development project in Bangladesh (LDP) with 13,000 participants funded by USAID. Several conclusions from the Baseline Assessment (here) and the Impact Assessment Final Report (here) that are relevant to our Movement for Community-led Development are:

  • Trainees’ knowledge and understanding of community development (Performance Monitoring Evaluation Plan #2) – a central goal of the LDP – achieved one of the largest positive changes. After training, leaders reported increased understanding of community development, as well as greater confidence in their ability to bring about change in their community. (p. 14)
  • As with commitment to addressing development challenges, greater knowledge and understanding of democracy is associated with greater political and community engagement (PMEP #12). Training increased this sort of engagement, including the range of civic activities in which LDP leaders participate. (p. 14)
    CPI blog graphic 1

     Graphic, p. 47
  • The number of leaders who indicated that they were highly involved in organized efforts to improve their community increased by 11 points, albeit from only 26 to 37 percent. Participation in formal community development committees rose from 26 to 41 percent, and 54 percent of LDP participants said their participation in community projects had increased in the previous year, up from 39 percent before training (p. 16)
  • Reflecting this greater participation, 54 percent of LDP participants said their participation in community projects increased over the previous year, up from 39 percent prior to training. (p. 53)
    CPI blog graphic 2

                                                     Graphic, p. 49

    Counterpart International’s Bangladesh Leadership Development Program largely achieved it’s goals. There were marked increases in participants self-confidence to take on leadership roles within their communities as well as being more accepting to women and girls in non-traditional roles and leading community projects (p. 34). All graphics and figures from the Impact Assessment Final Report.

Human-centered Design

Human-centered design, also called design thinking, is a process of design that incorporates feedback and iteration to create a product or system that is tuned to the needs of the community it serves. Design is more than fashion and interiors; it’s creative problem solving. Human-centered design is grounded in knowledge about users and it is collaborative, visual, and iterative. It is focused on empathy and optimism; harnessing this power allows designers to be more attuned to the needs of the community they are serving and not afraid of failure.

The human-centered design process starts with inspiration: immersion in a community, listening to the problems and challenges of that unique community, and opening your mind to creative possibilities. The most important part of the inspiration phase is the listening process. Human-centered design is first and foremost grounded in knowledge about its users. The collaborative process begins here by opening the pathways of communication between the users and designers.

The next step is the ideation phase: generating as many ideas as possible. Some will be viable, some won’t. The process of ideation includes refining, improving, and trashing ideas. After an idea is selected and honed, creating a simple prototype is next. Creating prototypes allow ideas to become tangible, and easily tested and tweaked based on feedback from the community of users.

The final phase is implementation.This stage is often dependent on building partnerships, shoring-up business support, and getting the final product or system into the world. The simple prototypes created to test out possible disruptions or failures in the product or system allow for a cheaper and more effective final product to be made.  The final product of the human-centered design process is responsive to the community’s needs because it has been shaped by them from the beginning. Creating a responsive feedback-centered process that prioritizes the need of the community over anything else results in cheaper and simpler solutions.

Human-centered design can be used for more than just product design. CorpsAfrica’s volunteers go through human-centered design training to prepare them for creating their own programs. Applying the basics of human-centered design to policy and programming ensures that the programs are designed with the community’s needs in mind. This kind of community-focused programming is similar to community-led development. The human-centered design approach is all about community and people. Both processes encourage design from within communities to find innovative and creative solutions.

Pioneered by design firm IDEO, the Human-centered Design process is a useful tool for community-led development organizations and projects. There is a helpful and free online training toolkit for human-centered design at

Read more here and here

Some instructive videos are here and here

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