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International IDEA promotes ownership and learning in democracy assistance 

December 09, 2015
International IDEA workshop attendees discuss a different approach: “Democracy Assistance and Results Management – from Upward Accountability and Control to Ownership and Learning”.  Photo:  International IDEA

Results management can be crucial to the progress of democracy assistance projects and programs, particularly when applied in ways that are inclusive, contextualized and sensitive to local partners’ space for learning and ownership.

However, there appears to be a tendency among funders to push for applications that focus on upward accountability and control to ensure value for money

International IDEA held a workshop to discuss a different approach: “Democracy Assistance and Results Management—from Upward Accountability and Control to Ownership and Learning”. During two days, 24 policy makers, evaluators, consultants, and donors identified the challenges of and opportunities for applying results management to the work of democracy assistance providers. Some areas included establishing trust, strengthening reporting and budgetary transparency, shifting management styles and methods.

Through a prioritizing exercise, participants agreed on themes in need of further attention:

  • Innovative approaches to results management that are being used in the field of democracy assistance need to become more widely known.
  • New results frameworks and indicators that are more flexible and adaptive to context need to be developed, piloted, refined and shared.
  • More attention needs to be paid to the enabling and evaluation of behavioral change, as well as the involving of beneficiaries in continuously analyzing results.
  • Combinations of methods need to be explored which can fulfill donors’ need for results, as well as partners’ needs for reflection, analysis, and continued improvement.
  • To evoke forward-looking and action-oriented discussions, International IDEA used a creative and innovative workshop format called Open Space. The Open Space methodology centers on the circle, on dialogue, and is inspired by the idea of a never-ending coffee break. The group jointly agreed on an agenda once the workshop began, to encourage participation, the use of each person’s knowledge and ideas.

The Democracy and Development team hosted the event in Stockholm on 1-2 December, which was attended by guests from AWEPA, BBC Media Action, DFID, DIPD, EEAS, Global Partners Governance, IPU, NDI, NED, NIMD, NORAD, and Sida, among others. Participants expressed that the meeting was helpful in both learning from peers and clarifying their own thoughts and ideas.

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