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Linking constituent engagement and adaptive management: lessons from practitioners

Working papers

Written by Stephanie Buell

Hero image description: Community engagement training in Khulna, Bangladesh Image credit:Mohammad Mahabubur Rahman/WorldFish Image license:CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Constituent engagement is the two-way process of involving constituents in the design, delivery, monitoring and evaluation of programmes. Constituent engagement and adaptive management together can be a powerful combination; high-quality constituent engagement can reinforce effective adaptive management, and vice versa. By highlighting stories from leading practitioners and their organisations, this paper explores how programmes ensure that constituent engagement informs meaningful adaptation.

Key messages

  • Constituent engagement and adaptive management are both important tools for implementing responsive and effective development programmes. Together, they can be a powerful combination: input from constituent engagement can be a key source of information and evidence that meaningfully informs programme design and adaptation, and closing the feedback loop in this way increases the quality of future engagement.
  • Both adaptive management and community engagement principles recognise that, for a programme to be effective, it must be responsive to the people meant to ultimately benefit from it. Beyond providing a key source of information for potential programme adaptations, constituent engagement efforts also help build trust with stakeholders, align expectations and promote accountability.
  • This paper explores five key elements for ensuring that constituent engagement and adaptive management are effectively linked within a programme: strong internal systems and external channels; skilled staff that value engagement and adaptation; decision-maker champions; clear points for reflection and action; and a meaningful role for constituents.
Community engagement training in Khulna, Bangladesh
Image credit:Mohammad Mahabubur Rahman/WorldFish ~ Image license:CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Stephanie Buell, Megan Campbell and Jamie Pett