What Do Development Impact Honors and Partnerships Have in Common?

Last Wednesday I had the pleasure of attending the Development Impact Honors, which the Department of Treasury hosts annually. The awards highlight projects that multilateral development banks have enacted, which have demonstrated measurable successes. Award recipients include the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), African Development Bank (AfDB), World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Treasury provides a summary of each project: http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/tg1608.aspx, but this entry focuses on the attributes these projects share. 

1) Partnerships: After each project was presented and award delivered, Assistant Secretary Marisa Lago remarked, "There are two common themes with all projects: competition and partnerships." The impact of the projects could not have happened without a commitment from partners to devote expertise, resources, and money. Because multiple organizations aligned their interests together, programs that operate with partnerships also have the potential to reach a larger audience.   

2) Measurable Results: These projects had clear, pre-determined conceptions of what results look like. Once they figured out when they would be satisfied with the project, the found out how to measure their results. Unless milestones are built into projects, then the project cannot shift over time to address key needs--and projects will certainly need to shift focus, nothing will go exactly as planned. Seeing intermittent results help determine what changes need to be made and when. Having everyone onboard makes this more effective. 

3) Multiple Stakeholders: Most projects involve a lot of players. After all, we want the results of projects to be big and important. However, actively engaging the stakeholders--those affected by the project--will help its success. But "engaging" can be an ambiguous word. In order for projects to be successful, "engaging" must involve giving the beneficiaries a direct role in the project, where they do have control over some aspects. This way, the success of the project then becomes their success. If each stakeholder contributes positively to the project, both for its successful outcome and their shared interest, it has a higher likelihood of meeting its initial goals.

4) Focused Objectives: Taking the time to develop focused goals helps all parties involved. It helps them grasp what really is at stake, and determine how their organization can best contribute. Projects don't always have to start big--at the national level. Instead, small, focused projects in certain locales can help work out the kinks in an idea, and then other partners can scale the project accordingly. By the same token, learning what objectives don't work is just as valuable as finding the ones that do. Then, once the extraneous endeavors are determined and minimized, contributing partners can adjust their tactics accordingly. 

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