Strengthening Local Capacity: The Weak Link in Sustainable Development

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Country ownership is critical to achieving development outcomes such as reducing hunger and extreme poverty. Well-functioning state and non-state institutions are necessary elements of an enabling environment — conditions that facilitate countries’ efforts to drive their own development.

The post-2015 development agenda provides a tremendous opportunity for a renewed approach to country-led development. Such an approach should ask and answer fundamental questions to countryled development: What is lacking? And, perhaps most importantly, how do we ensure that efforts have an impact on communities?

Such efforts would be strengthened by a results-driven, systemic strategy whose goal would be to catalyze authentic local determination of development priorities, resources, and methods of implementation. A comprehensive understanding of the process of LCD will help identify which strategies would be most effective. The first step could be to develop a policy to break down barriers to change, such as programs that are isolated (“siloed”) and competing interests.

Development effectiveness should be measured by how well the results help achieve development goals. The policy should also examine to what extent development partners such as the United States  prioritize local system strengthening.

Greater emphasis should be placed on strong indicators to measure progress, support evidence-based policymaking and promote mutual transparency and accountability.

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