To support organisational learning to improve the effectiveness of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation’s (SDC’s) programmes and strategies relating to democratisation, decentralisation and local governance.
Inclusive and accountable governance is fundamental to delivering sustainable development. Good governance is a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) in itself – Goal 16 for peace, justice and strong institutions – and a means to achieve all 17 SDGs.
The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is a progressive donor committed to this agenda and to working with the most marginalised and supporting transformative change through participatory, country owned processes.
To aid these processes, IDS was commissioned to support SDC’s organisational research and learning within their own programming. Specifically, we supported SDC to reflect on achievements and failures and to adapt organisational processes in response.
The thematic research support and learning, which began in 2017, continued through the global pandemic. SDC felt it was more important than ever to maintain organisational learning exchanges during this extremely challenging time, and there was a move made to virtual interaction and engagement.
This collaborative learning programme was built on a longstanding partnership between IDS and SDC. Our past work together has spanned a range of themes on democratic governance and accountability, including service delivery, local governance innovations, working in authoritarian contexts, anti-corruption programming, and employment in a digital world – with much of this work informed by participatory research processes and power analysis tools that IDS has pioneered and SDC has championed.
This programme aimed to provide research support, share learning and collaborate on policy engagement in a range of priority areas of decentralised and democratic local governance, such as: fiscal decentralisation, women’s political empowerment, social inclusion, anticorruption, and political economy.
Core programme activities included:
Where relevant we drew in expertise from our partner networks to enhance training. These included:
IDS alumni supported in-country research and learning by either being directly involved, or by helping connect us to the appropriate stakeholders and networks.
IDS staff and partner organisations in collaboration with SDC.
SDC staff, implementing partners and affiliates working on governance from offices around the world.
Examples of participant job roles include:
Over the course of the programme more than 220 SDC staff, implementing partners and affiliates globally directly benefitted.
A series of interviews found that IDS-facilitated learning on the theme of ‘Working in Authoritarian Contexts’ was particularly well received by SDC national staff, sparking new ideas, understanding and strengthened connections with colleagues working in similar contexts across the SDC Governance Network.
Another SDC staff member said the facilitated learning activity provided a platform to share her work on mainstreaming anti-corruption initiatives with a large audience. This resulted in new conversations with SDC staff in the region.
Materials from the learning programme were also shared with national partner organisations, producing a wider ripple effect for the learning.