“Drivers of Change” by Ann Freckleton of Effective

“Drivers of Change” by Ann Freckleton, Effective States Team, UK Department for
International Development (DFID) at the World Bank, Monday, December 12, 2005.
Ms Freckleton reported on the accomplishments, challenges, and the lessons that DFID
has learned with the Drivers of Change (DOC) approach to development. The DOC
studies, in the first place, focus on the context of client countries and then its link to propoor policies. In terms of context, studies identify the key elements of structures,
institutions and agents and their roles in either driving or inhibiting change in particular
developing countries. DOC studies are generated at the level of DFID’s Country offices
and the Policy Division: while the country offices initiate studies using staff persons and
local consultants, the Policy Division at headquarters generates support for studies, and
also facilitates lesson learning as well as building an evidence base to promote DOC
studies. Twenty-six (26) drivers of have been undertaken; and DOC studies have produce
a substantial number of recommendation/lessons.
The important lessons from DOC studies which DFID wishes to share include the need
for flexibility among donors in the way they view the development process. They need to
think harder about their ambitions and should be prepared to tailor DOC studies to the
situation/needs revealed. They need to gain a better understanding of the underlying
political environment of their work and find creative ways of navigating that environment
which is unique in each country. Also there is need to stimulate demand from citizens on
their felt needs as well as supply by governments.
To be successful, donors need to seek non-traditional partners such as the media and the
private sector (some donors who are not familiar with the private sector often see it as an
enemy). There are risks and opportunities so donors need to move out of their comfort
zones and be flexible enough to partner with non-traditional agents and work through
non-traditional channels. Flexibility would also enable donors to anticipate and take
advantage of sudden changes that may occur in the contexts of political development in
different countries. They need to build upon local successes and systems.
In terms of the conduct of the studies, attention needs to be paid to issues of preparation,
participants, and publication or dissemination of findings, among others. It is also
important to emphasize that the process of conducting DOC studies is as important as the
product of such studies. There is need to be clear about the purpose and the audiences to
which studies are directed; the need to match timing and resources to wants and needs –
the terms of reference should be realistic in terms of the time frame allowed for studies. It
is also suggested that program staff must play lead role in organizing and coordinating
studies but that external actors should be used, i.e., people outside the donor organization
such as local consultants who could act as “ambassadors” for the donor agencies. These
external actors play multiple roles; they may not necessarily be people who have
background in the client countries but those who are familiar with DOC methodology.
With regard to documentation and dissemination of findings, the lesson learned is that it
should be possible to transmit them in different forms and media since one product
doesn’t fit all. For example, in Bolivia, the report has been published in Spanish which
has resulted in wider dissemination and has generated greater interest and awareness
among citizens.
DFID has used these studies extensively for analysis and planning, as well as in seeking
partnership and influence with other donor agencies. It also attempts to harmonize DOC
studies with other kinds of studies and analyses that the other agencies are doing.
However, Ms Freckleton noted that these studies have been used comparatively less to
change the shape of programs and they do not seem to impact public policy, perhaps
because DOC is a relatively new approach, and is weighed down by sheer scale and range
of issues. The studies do not also appear people-oriented as they provide little incentives
for participation of citizens as stakeholders in the development process (e.g., support for
pro-poor change is limited). They look inward into countries but there is need to focus on
holistic issues and compare experiences from different countries; also need to pilot ways
to fill gaps and resolve issues as well as working with other donors to find alternative
approaches and use lessons learnt from DOC studies to improve policy and action.
The Question/Answer and Comments session had active participation as questions were
asked on a range of issues raised by the presenter:
the evidence base of the studies;
the scenario, and apparent mechanistic nature of the studies;
the demand side of DOC analysis;
staffing issues, the need to involve clients (advisers and administrators) who are
not only technocrats but are also politically savvy;
need for alternative methodology; and
application of studies to different country contexts and experiences – a
participant, for instance, argued that donors may not be able to reshape context
but they can influence political leadership in countries (which are a lever of
Prepared by Victor Eno
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