The Difference Learning Makes - Factors that enable and inhibit adaptive programming - Gray and Carl (2022)


This paper captures Christian Aid Ireland’s experience of adaptive programming in the multi-country, multi-year Irish Aid funded Programme Grant II (2017–2022) in Angola, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, Sierra Leone, and Zimbabwe was designed to support marginalised communities to realise their rights, reduce violence, and address gender inequality. The paper points out how the programme opted to move away from a linear programme management approach to explore an adaptive one. The paper considers whether this pivot to adaptive programming made a difference. 

The paper reveals that Christian Aid Ireland’s application of adaptive programming has supported more flexible delivery, which has in turn contributed to better development outcomes. There are good examples of what this looked like in Sierra Leone, El Salvador, and Angola, and Zimbabwe. The paper points to nine factors that determine the effectiveness and impact of using an adaptive approach. These are: 1) leadership; 2) organisational culture; 3) conceptual understanding; 4) staff capacities; 5) partnership approaches; 6) participation; 7) methods and tools; 8) administrative procedures; and 9) the operating context.