01 Jun 2020

Can results last a decade? Understanding sustainability for post-covid19 responses

Understanding if and how a systems project can bring about sustainable change

In the aftermath of the current pandemic, donors and development agencies will have to combine immediate and long-term responses to support the economic recovery in countries which have been disproportionately hit by the devastating consequences of the health crisis and economic downturn and the concurrent fall in global trade and demand.

Sustainability - understood as the ability to drive change that can to be sustained in the long term (including environmentally) - is gaining importance within development circles and is increasingly presented as a critical driver of development-led responses. This echoes the discourse of the market systems community, which calls for using more systemic approaches to markets systems in order to achieve sustainability and scale. Indeed, one of the core selling points of using a systems approach to create more and better jobs is that results live on, and continue to reach new beneficiaries, well after the programme closes and development support ends. However, to date, too little evidence has been collected to definitively show that the approach really delivers on this promise - long-term sustainability.

To understand a bit more about if and how a systems project can bring about sustainable change, ILO The Lab and The Springfield Centre have revisited an ILO project 10 years after it closed. In the brief Can development results last a decade? A sustainability assessment of an ILO enterprise development project in Sri Lanka we look at three selected intervention areas to assess:

  • which of the changes achieved during the programme period have remained
  • which have faltered
  • and which have taken on a life of their own

This analysis has been used to uncover key lessons for project design, intervention facilitation and results measurement.

These lessons can provide useful insights on how projects can use a systems approach to drive more sustainable outcomes and deliver longer lasting impact.

This blog post was originally published on Marketlinks

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