Episode 3: Designing a Problem-Driven Donor-Funded Project in Mozambique

Many government policies and reforms fail in developing countries. Research at the Center for International Development’s Building State Capability program (or BSC) ties such failure to the tendency of governments to adopt external ‘solutions’ that do not fit their contexts and overwhelm their capabilities. The program believes that governments should build their capabilities by employing processes that empower their own people to find their way to solving their country’s real problems. They propose a process for doing this, called Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (or PDIA) and have been working since 2009 to explore ‘how to do’ PDIA practically, in the real world. This is the second of a series of interviews with the Building State Capability team – the PDIA in Practice Series, or PIPs, where they describe where the PDIA tools and ideas have emerged from, and how these ideas have taken shape. The previous interview covered their experience working with officials in Mozambique’s public financial management sector in 2009, the ‘adaptation window’ idea and practice it inspired. Today’s interview will tell the story that followed that first year of work, how long it took to take the project off the ground and what were the main learnings of implementing an innovative problem-driven approach across many sectors at a national level.