Unsuccessful development initiatives offer vital lessons — but only if we are open about failure, says Ben Taylor.
I was recently involved in a public declaration of failure. An innovative development programme I ran didn’t come close to meeting its targets, so we shut it down. And we went further, publicly declaring that the programme had failed and striving to share lessons from the failure as widely as possible.
Embracing failure can be uncomfortable, but it plays a hugely valuable role in the learning and improvement process. We need to be more honest — and more encouraging of honesty. Continue reading →
The Washington Post has just published a fascinating analysis as of new UN population projections up to the year 2100. It’s worth reading the whole thing, not least because it comes with some beautifully simple visualisations of the data, using my new favourite online tool: DataWrapper.
As usual, however, my main interest is in Tanzania, which the Post’s article touched on briefly, along with the chart above: Continue reading →
ODI have published a new political economy analysis of WASH, based on case studies of Sierra Leone and Vietnam. Great, I thought, the sector has long been dominated by engineers and administrators whose ideas of how planning should work tend to be limited to top-down blueprint planning, an injection of political economy thinking could be very useful.
But I’m very disappointed with the paper. For one thing, it comes across as having been put together by folks with little or no prior understanding of the water sector. For example:
The research project results suggest that there are two key distinctions that are relevant when carrying out PEA in the water supply and sanitation sector. First, the distinction between water supply and sanitation: Continue reading →
As a consultant, I drafted this WSP report on water supply and sanitation in Tanzania. It was written mostly during 2009.
It represents a good summary of where Tanzania’s water sector was up to in 2009. And some of the methodology is very interesting, both in terms of calculating the funding required to meet the water and sanitation MDG targets and benchmarking key aspects of sector policy and performance.
I prepared the chapters on water and sanitation for the 2007 and 2009 Poverty and Human Development Reports for Tanzania.
The 2007 report did not really cover any new ground, but the 2009 report included an analysis of household wealth, access to clean and safe water, and the percentage of household income that is spent on water supply: Continue reading →
Out of sight and out of mind? was Tanzania’s second annual water sector equity report, published in September 2009. I wrote most of the report, with the exception of the section on water resource management.
This time, the most interesting analysis was qualitative, looking to explain why district’s were targeting most of their water sector funding at relatively well-served communities. (This had been a major finding of the previous year’s report.) In particular, we looked at two wards in Nzega district, Mwakashanhala and Itobo, asking why Itobo, which already had reasonably good access to clean and safe water, continued to benefit from new funding, while Mwakashanhala, which had no improved waterpoints, didn’t get any funding. Continue reading →
I wrote this report on performance monitoring in Tanzania’s water sector for WaterAid, following a request from the Ministry of Water. It was intended to review the existing monitoring frameworks and systems, and to propose how these could be improved.
It’s a very detailed and technical analysis of performance monitoring systems, interesting only to those with a deep interest in the field.