Integrated Development

  • Aid agencies can learn from other industries to advance integrated development approaches

    The years leading up to the 2015 benchmark for global goals saw enthusiastic calls for doing development differently, reaching a crescendo as the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted to guide our work through 2030.

    Specifically, the new SDG era’s focus on integration among previously siloed social, economic and environmental aims has aid agencies wondering how to better address complex, 21st-century development challenges through meaningful cross-sector collaboration. In this industry, we like staying in our lane: doing what is familiar, what we are good at, and what we can count. As a result, we’ve become so focused on a plethora of micro-targets in isolation that we’ve lost sight of how families, communities, and societies actually work. How can we start moving beyond the long-entrenched, single-issue programs run by highly specialized staff? What can we do differently to better respond to people’s multifaceted lives?

    To flip the script and make decisions based on actual problems (and their many root causes) rather than shaping them to fit the status quo development siloes, we designed a decisionmaking tool called the Development Sector Adjacency Map. The map offers insights about common relationships between development fields (called adjacencies) and strategic considerations to leverage those linkages through strategic adaptation and expansion.

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  • Does evidence tell us that integrated development approaches work? It depends!

    ID Summit logoWhen we tackle complex, global challenges and their many root causes, intuition tells us that development initiatives need to be more holistic — the approaches may need to be as interconnected as the problems. Even the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda states its aims are integrated and indivisible. Yet, the critically important question, “What evidence supports integrated development in practice?” can best be answered through the saying “context is king.”

    Integration is an umbrella phrase that can describe thousands of different cross-sector approaches — from health and microfinance, to nutrition and education, to conservation and livelihoods. Consider how evidence showing huge impacts in the integration of savings groups with girls’ education would be relevant for people trying to decide whether to integrate agriculture and environmental conservation. Context matters. A lot. What is being integrated with what? How? For what purpose?

    Global development decisionmakers must resist the temptation for a simple, universal answer to whether integration works. The notion that any one gold-standard study on its own will answer the integrated development hypothesis is false. Evidence for cross-sector approaches will always depend on the specific sectors, geography and people in question.

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  • What do AIDS 2016 in Durban and integrated development have in common?

    A version of this post originally appeared on Huffington Post. Reposted with permission.

    As FHI 360 and the global health community prepare to travel the “Road to Durban” to the 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016), it is poignant to reflect on how far we have come since the AIDS 2000 meeting held in Durban, South Africa. I recommend taking the time to read a recent message from the conference organizers titled, The Return to Durban: A Critical Moment in History.

    After reading the piece, I was reminded of what a critical role the entire development community, including organizations like FHI 360, has played in the global response to HIV. I am inspired every day to witness how the broad global response has rallied around the concept of building on the available evidence and advancing integrated development solutions — which is why we continue to make real and sustainable progress in battling HIV.

    As part of FHI 360’s deliberate approach to advancing integrated development solutions, we will be hosting a summit June 13, 2016, in Washington, DC, titled, Greater than the Sum of its Parts: The Power of Integration. The event will be a space for innovative thinking, learning and dialogue that will focus on the “how” to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The discussions will include global development leaders and practitioners, policymakers, donor organizations and other change-makers.

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  • Integrated development approaches are challenging but resonate with clients

    Tamimah grew up in Nakuru, a community in Kenya’s Rift Valley where the rate of HIV infection is high and where many young people don’t graduate high school. Tamimah’s early home life was precarious: Her mother left her and her three younger siblings, and her father provided limited support. The children were raised primarily by their grandmother.

    Before Tamimah turned 13, her grandmother died, leaving the children without primary support. Tamimah and her two sisters and brother struggled to take care of themselves, stay in school and be healthy. It was “very hard to grow up in this place,” Tamimah said.

    Things began to shift, however, when they were recruited to take part in APHIAplus, an FHI 360 project focused on improving health care delivery and multisector services to vulnerable populations in the Rift Valley. Through APHIAplus, which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, Tamimah gained access to health education and services. She also received support to cover the costs of her school fees and supplies.

    From these multipronged activities, there was a ripple effect: She was able to stay in school. Upon graduation, Tamimah studied tailoring through a vocational program also offered through APHIAplus and was able to provide for her siblings. After a year, she saved enough to open Al Hamis Café, named after her brother.

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  • The age of integration

    The Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations in September provide an expansive vision of what we can accomplish over the next 15 years. Unlike the previous global development agenda, they include goals for all countries, not just poor ones, and more consideration for protecting our planet. The language also emphasizes that the new goals are integrated and indivisible, something the authors explain as win-win cooperation among the social, economic and environmental domains.

    Now that the new global agenda is officially launched with slick logos and celebrity endorsements, and as the cheers (and some boos) start to die down, it’s time to talk about the hard stuff: How do we actually operationalize an integrated development agenda?

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  • A version of this post originally appeared on Girls’ Globe. Reposted with permission.

    Opening up the panel, Greg BeckFHI 360‘s Director of Integrated Development, told the story of one particular attempt to aid in relief efforts. After great effort, and amassing donations and supplies, they opened boxes to find stacks of things like inflatable toilets and acne cream.

    Asked Beck, “How is this going to help anybody rebuild their life?”

    Beck’s point was an extreme example of a nonetheless integral point: development and aid are not straightforward, not simple. They don’t consist of simply hurling donations and good intentions at a problem and hoping something sticks.

    The term “integrated development” means just that — that development is complex and requires coordinated, planned effort across sectors.

    It operates around the idea that development does not exist problem by problem, sector by sector. You can’t improve global health without improving education without improving women’s rights. Naturally, there are some specific efforts that require a concentrated approach, but overall, a holistic view is more effective, and organizations and governments need to address what people really lack in the complex, multilayered environments in which they live — not just what we think they need.

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