This paper examines adaptive approaches in aid programming in a fragile, conflict and violence-affected setting (FCVAS), namely Myanmar. A combination of desk review and field research has been used to examine some of the assertions around the ‘adaptive management’ approach, which has arisen in recent years as a response to critiques of overly rigid, pre-designed, blueprint and linear project plans. This paper explores if and how adaptive approaches, including rapid learning and planning responses (fast feedback loops and agile programming), are particularly relevant and useful for promoting empowerment and accountability in such ‘messy places’.
This case study focuses on Pyoe Pin (‘Young Shoots’), a DFID-funded, British Council managed governance programme, which has been running since 2007. Pyoe Pin focuses on encouraging political change using technical support, funding and process facilitation, rather than simply pursuing technical change by means of a politically informed approach. The distinction is important, because, during ten years of extraordinary political and social turbulence, the Pyoe Pin team and its partners have facilitated social and political change by bringing together coalitions of groups and individuals to address particular issues of social, political, economic or
environmental concern. To achieve this, Pyoe Pin supports a flexible number of issue-based programmes (IBPs) currently covering education, health, fisheries, forestry and extractive industries.
Our field research focused in particular on the fisheries IBP, which is considered by Pyoe Pin to be ‘one of the first examples of public participation in state-level policymaking in Myanmar’. A field visit to talk with officials, local NGOs, politicians and fishing communities added considerable insight and texture to our understanding of how Pyoe Pin works. Our meetings revealed an organization deeply embedded in relationships of trust with ministers, parliamentarians, civil society organizations and fishing communities, and using those trust relationships to facilitate significant progress in fisheries reform, which in turn is leading to widespread improvements in the lives of small-scale fishers.
Other papers in this series:
Adaptive Programming in Fragile, Conflict and Violence-Affected Settings – What works and under what conditions? The Case of PERL, Nigeria