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FHI 360 provides recommendations for how to support integrated development approaches

August 25, 2016 —

From Myanmar to Mozambique, and Peru to Papua New Guinea, families living in poverty face an array of complex challenges to securing a better life. Disease. Limited access to a quality education. Paltry health care. Violence. Weak governance. Scant opportunities to make a livable wage. Even more, the obstacles that prevent progress for many in developing countries are increasingly compounded by large-scale global transformations, such as rapid urbanization, climate change and endless technological shifts.

These roadblocks to a healthy, productive life do not fit neatly into their own distinct categories. Instead, they often overlap. They are interrelated. And they cannot be solved with a single approach.

FHI 360 advocates for the use of more integrated approaches to effectively tackle the interconnected nature and root causes of global problems. While such an approach is not a silver bullet, there is enough evidence demonstrating that integration can make a difference in a diversity of settings. 

"The development community and private-sector allies interested in integration are still struggling to figure out how to best design, implement and, importantly, fund complex programs," said Gregory Beck, Director of Integrated Development at FHI 360. "Achieving this will require a significant cultural and behavioral shift in development practice."

A new paper from FHI 360, Integrated Approaches for Complex Global Challenges, provides recommendations that serve as a starting point for how the development community can progress toward thinking and operating in a more integrated fashion. The recommendations grew from discussions that took place at FHI 360's Greater than the Sum of its Parts – The Power of Integration event on June 13, 2016, in Washington, DC. The event brought together a diversity of global development practitioners, researchers and public and private donors to address how development practice needs to evolve to better support the design, delivery, evaluation and funding of integrated approaches during the era of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

"Our summit on integration provided a space for practitioners, donors, researchers and policymakers to discuss the unique opportunities and challenges that come with integrated programming," Beck said, "and work together to come up with ideas and strategies for how to move forward."

Among the recurrent themes throughout the event were the need for flexibility in funding and more time to deeply engage with communities in an effort not only to understand, but also to adapt to their needs throughout the life of a project. In addition, there is demand for more funders to consider supporting mixed-method and multiyear evaluations. Participants said that doing so will allow for more strategic follow-up to assess whether integrated development approaches add value or produce synergies as a result of integration.

The event was moderated by JustActions Founder Leith Greenslade and included storytelling about integrated development efforts in Guatemala, Mozambique, Nepal and Uganda; panel discussions; working groups; and keynote addresses from Ben Ramalingam of the Institute of Development Studies and Susan Reichle, Counselor to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Also included was a conversation with USAID's Chief Strategy Officer, Tony Pipa, who called integrated development a "concept whose time has come," and dubbed the Sustainable Development Goals a "manifesto for integrated development." 

For more, visit FHI 360's digital hub for the Greater than the Sum of its Parts event and watch videos of all discussions.