What can we do to improve the quality of development projects?

What can we do to improve the quality of development projects?
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What can we do to improve the quality of development projects?

©FAO/Marco Longari / FAO

In rural and agricultural development, projects are the main instrument for piloting and/or implementing policies and programmes. When evaluating projects, we identify issues that affect their effectiveness and note that these often originate from flaws at design and/or implementation stages.

Below is a non-exhaustive list of “good practices” to avoid such flaws that emerge from my experience.

At design stage, projects should:

  • Be subject to quality assurance processes that externally assess whether the theory of change of the project is robust enough for achieving its intended goals.
  • Require information on lessons learnt from previous interventions in the domain/country in which the project will intervene. If a project proposes to implement an approach that has failed elsewhere, this should be justified and assessed during the quality review phase.
  • Contain convincing narratives and SMART indicators for the impacts, outcomes and outputs of the intervention, which should be accompanied by a budgeted M&E plan.

At implementation stage, projects should:

  • Systematically monitor achievement of indicators and targets.
  • Carry out targeted research in order to identify what is working/not working (especially the latter), based on information generated by the monitoring system.
  • Hold steering committee meetings (or after action reviews), where managers and stakeholders present/analyze good practices and lessons learnt to avoid/solve bottlenecks.

Which good practices would you recommend to governments, donors, international organizations and NGOs to improve their project effectiveness?

Look forward to hearing from you!

Carlos Tarazona

Office of Evaluation, FAO 

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