Funders and implementers of international development programmes largely agree that adaptive management is industry best practice. Most development experts also broadly agree on what ‘adaptive management’ means.
Although there has been progress in some areas of adaptive management, such as tailoring interventions to local context and using evidence for decision-making, there are also multiple, ongoing, real-world constraints.
This case study explores how PRISMA has avoided and overcome some of these constraints, whilst continuing to battle others. Four major constraints revealed in the adaptive management literature are discussed in this case study:
- Programmes are designed in ways that make it hard to adapt interventions, target regions or sectors based on new learning or changing circumstances
- Programmes struggle to create an organisational culture that encourages learning and adapting
- When staffing programmes, recruiters prioritise sectoral expertise and length of experience over adaptive managerial competence
- Programme managers face pressures to spend their budgets predictably and before their programme ends. Learning and testing take time and cost little, so managers feel pressure to deprioritise them.
The first phase of the AIP-Rural was implemented from 2013 – 2018, with the second phase (PRISMA-2) from 2019 – 2023 in East Java, West Nusa Tenggara, East Nusa Tenggara, Papua, West Papua and Central Java.