Celebrating Adaptive Delivery: A View from the Frontline in Myanmar
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The conversation on adaptive management has grown fast amongst development actors. These conversations often focus on designing, commissioning, and managing large-scale development programmes. Exactly how this impacts the frontline, the implementers, and day-to-day project delivery is still being debated. Yet, perspectives drawn directly from practice are often largely missing within these debates. This paper is written by two development practitioners. Through this paper, we reflect on the difference between adaptive management and adaptive delivery, and how this interacts with risk and aid accountability, particularly in contexts of fragility. Drawing on examples of Oxfam in Myanmar work and our personal insights in relation to delivering programming across humanitarian, peace-building, and development, we suggest that in complex, conflict-affected, and highly political environments adaptive delivery already happens far more regularly than is currently recognised, as a necessity to get activities delivered. However, it happens despite the system, not because of it, and is therefore often hidden and carried out ‘under the radar’ rather than celebrated as a success in difficult environments. This paper was written in 2019, before the military seized control of Myanmar in February 2021. Whilst it draws on examples from pre-2021 Myanmar to illustrate real life cases, it is a contribution to a broader global debate on adaptive management in practice, specifically in fragile contexts. This is not specifically aimed at practitioners working in Myanmar at present, who are now working in a protracted crisis. This paper makes tangible recommendations on steps that donors, international non-governmental organisations, local staff, and partners could take to promote a system of encouraging and celebrating adaptability in programme delivery in fragile contexts.
CitationBarnes, K. and Lonsdale, J. (2023) Celebrating Adaptive Delivery: A View from the Frontline in Myanmar, IDS Working Paper 586, Brighton: Institute of Development Studies, DOI: 10.19088/IDS.2023.009
Is part of seriesIDS Working Paper;586
Rights holderInstitute of Development Studies
SponsorForeign, Commonwealth & Development Office
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as This is an Open Access paper distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence (CC BY), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original authors and source are credited and any modifications or adaptations are indicated.