Lessons from 10 years implementing ENABLE in Nigeria

Is a genuinely sustainable, locally-led, politically-smart approach to economic governance and Business Environment Reform possible?

Adam Smith International

Originally designed as a Challenge Fund for business associations, in recognition of the inherent limitations of such an approach ENABLE was redesigned to put sustainability and local ownership at the heart of the programme.

This paper examines what it means to be genuinely sustainable, locally-led, and politically-smart, drawing on the successes and failures of the DFID-funded ENABLE programme in Nigeria. 

‘Sustainability’, ‘locally-led’, and ‘politically smart’ are concepts in development, like ‘adaptive management’, that many donors and practitioners either reflexively claim to embrace or dismiss as little more than common sense or good development practice. 

However, as this paper argues, pursuing a genuinely sustainable, locally-led, and politically-smart approach requires a radical departure from most mainstream approaches. It also entails potential trade-offs that are rarely explicitly acknowledged and weighed in programme design. There has also been relatively little effort made to monitor and evaluate whether programmes are indeed delivering sustainable, locally owned change – for example, post-programme evaluations are still relatively novel and there is little practical guidance on how to assess sustainability.