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The Drivers of Change Approach

Research report

Research report

This paper is part of a series synthesizing work on PRSPs; aid modalities; and aid harmonisation to encourage dialogue between UK and Japanese researchers on these issues.

This paper sets out an overview of DFID’s recently developed ‘Drivers of Change’ (DoC) approach, developed to address how DFID can interact with the ‘politics of development’. Although DoC studies have been carried out to inform programming and underpin formulation of Country Assistance Plans (CAPs) by country offices, DFID see DoC as not just a ‘tool’ but as a new ‘approach’ heralding a potentially significant shift in how they work.  The innovation has arisen in response to a growing awareness that many of the changes involved in shifting to a ‘country-led’ approach under Poverty Reduction Strategies (PRSs), including shifts in aid modalities and moves to government-driven aid coordination, are not technocratic issues but are in fact fundamentally political in nature. The DoC approach, therefore, is feeding into DFID’s thinking on all these issues and aims to underpin important decisions such as shifting aid modalities ‘upstream’ to budget support. For this reason, it is being profiled here prior to the forthcoming paper on aid modalities.

The paper draws on research that contributed to the development of the DoC approach but also on guidance materials, reviews of experience so far and interviews with key individuals both inside and outside DFID who have been closely involved with the evolution of the approach. Although a paper of this size can only pull together a small proportion of the available material on the approach and experiences so far, it is hoped that this overview will enable other donor organisations to understand DFID’s thinking on this issue and its reasons for this important and innovative approach. It is hoped that the introduction of what is viewed by DFID as a potentially significant change in ‘how they do business’ may stimulate debate within other donor organisations on whether they face similar issues and if so, how they can be addressed.

Debbie Warrener