‘Adaptive management’ and ‘politically smart programming’ are increasingly fashionable ideas in development. They capture an ambition to programme in ways that are more flexible and experimental, and which respond to and capitalise on political dynamics and incentives. The development community is still at a relatively early stage in gathering and analysing evidence about how to do these things well and the difference they can make in terms of delivering results. It is also still finding its way through reconciling these relatively unusual ways of working with traditional programme management and evaluation systems and tools.
Institutions for Inclusive Development (I4ID) is an adaptive, politically smart governance programme in Tanzania, funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and Irish Aid. The overarching goal of the programme is to work with government, representative institutions, civil society and the private sector to strengthen institutions in Tanzania to become more inclusive and accountable, so that economic growth and services bring more benefits to women, youth, poor and vulnerable people.
As a member of the I4ID consortium, ODI has worked closely with the programme’s partners, participants and core staff based in Dar es Salaam to document their experiences and to track the programme’s processes, ways of working and results. These three short papers – on gender mainstreaming, local partnerships and value for money – are an output of this learning and reflection. Adaptive and politically smart programming presents distinct opportunities and challenges in each of these areas in comparison to more conventional programming. Taking a close look at I4ID’s experience generates valuable lessons for development and other reform actors in Tanzania, and for governance practitioners more generally.