Opinion: Embrace risk to empower locally led development

By Kimberly McClain | February 9, 2023 | Africa & The Middle East, Asia, Europe & Eurasia, The Americas |

This article was originally published by Devex.

Kimberly McClain, GFC’s Regional Co-Director for the Americas, shares her insights on risk, accountability, and trust in the development sector.

In October 2022, champions of locally led development applauded the release of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Local Capacity Strengthening Policy, an overdue turn in the right direction and a significant step in acknowledging that community groups and stakeholders are central to sustainable development.

People gathered around a person who is teaching them the use of some equipment.

GFC partner Ollas Sostenibles works to guarantee food security for low-income social sectors in Lima, Peru through sustainable solutions. © Ollas Sostenibles

Locally led development demands that funders and international intermediaries loosen the reins on their funds and partnerships. This releasing of control can feel risky, and the USAID policy acknowledges some key points about risk: that programmatic needs and potential benefits should shape risk assessment, and that risk mitigation must not be misconstrued as capacity strengthening.

But perhaps its most powerful statement on risk appears as a caveat to risk mitigation activities:

“In actuality, an over-emphasis on compliance or the ability to deliver short-term results can have distorting effects that may increase dependence on international donors and weaken resilience by stifling local revenue generation. Over time, such support can undermine the mission of local organizations.”

Click here to read the full article in Devex.

Header photo: GFC partners participating in a convening in Tijuana, Mexico in 2020. © Jeff Valenzuela

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