• David Colvin, Senior Advisor

IBI Contributes to USAID/El Salvador’s Localization Efforts

USAID Administrator Samantha Power’s focus on localization as a priority for USAID aligns directly with the way IBI has implemented projects throughout our 26-year history. Assisting local organizations to improve the services they provide, and enabling them to grow their partnerships with each other, with the private sector, and with donors is the focus of IBI’s work. A good example of what this looks like in practice is the USAID/El Salvador Strengthening Local Organizations Activity, recently implemented by IBI.


IBI approached capacity development for the ten selected El Salvadoran CSOs with the goal of comprehensive improvements that would encompass both administrative and programmatic elements of their operations. In the past, capacity development for local partners was often thought of as improving their management functions (accounting, procurement, HR, IT, etc.) in order to reduce the fiduciary risk of providing funding to them directly. The current Local Capacity Development Policy for USAID emphasizes the need to also strengthen the effectiveness and scale of their service-delivery. IBI did both in El Salvador, working with the following theory of change: “If Salvadoran civil society organizations demonstrate programmatic effectiveness and transparent and accountable administrative systems, they can serve as reliable partners for different donors in achieving national development outcomes, and be more effective and sustainable in the long term.”

Putting this theory into practice, IBI started by facilitating workshops on applying two tools—the Organizational Capacity Assessment (OCA) that targets management and operations, and the Organizational Performance Index (OPI) that targets programmatic effectiveness. The IBI team facilitated a participatory process, prompting leaders within these CSOs to reflect on their own organizations’ capacities and performance. Next, the IBI team conducted a desk review of the CSOs’ key institutional documents as well as in-depth interviews, summing up findings in a baseline report for each counterpart.


With each report complete and validated, next steps included designing and implementing an action plan—some of which was assisted by IBI and some of which was entirely up to the counterpart—to reduce the identified capacity and performance gaps.


The results were already measurable by the end of this relatively short two-year activity. All ten CSOs registered improved capacity in the administrative and operational areas (management systems; financial management; human resources; IT; etc.) measured by the OCA tool. Seven improved their OCA scores by roughly 15%, while three improved their scores 25-30% over the baseline.


Meanwhile, six of the eight CSOs that were re-assessed on their programmatic performance registered improvement in the four OPI performance domains (efficiency, effectiveness, relevance, sustainability). Most saw improvements in the range of 10%, while one showed a jump of roughly 50% in organizational performance relative to its baseline.


Perhaps more importantly, these performance improvement tools can now be used by the CSOs on an on-going basis without further support from IBI. IBI went above and beyond the requirements of its contract, developing a 50-page, Spanish-language “manual for methodological transfer,” which walks the CSOs step-by-step through the process of replicating the OCA/OPI assessments themselves. The USAID Contracting Officer Representative for the activity praised IBI for its extra effort, deeming the manual “excellent work” as well as more “practical and easy-to-apply” than existing manuals aiming to do something similar.


As a woman-owned small business whose mission is to improve the lives of people around the world, IBI appreciates USAID’s efforts to move development – and the funding streams that enable it – more closely to the grass roots. As our corporate motto states, Global Insights – Local Solutions.

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