Managing multi-agency development programmes

As governments have grown more aware of the interdependence of development efforts, their projects and programmes have become increasingly integrated. They often involve many institutions and functions, posing challenging and sometimes overwhelming problems of interagency coordination. These problems have been widespread in the complex "new-style" projects favoured by the foreign development agencies from the early 1970s.

Between agencies, coordination poses the same managerial problem as people-centred development: how to involve those outside a manager's direct control. Where effective coordination cannot be assured, complex programmes can often be simplified by delinking them, or reducing the number of components.

The need for coordination can also be minimized by reducing the number of programme components. A scheme to rehabilitate watersheds in the Indian Himalayas intentionally avoided burdening management with responsibility for education, village electricity, health care, and roads, much needed though all of these are. Instead, it concentrated on farming and fuelwood development, which are critical both to local living standards and to the success of measures for soil conservation and reforestation.
Counter Claim:
In some cases, it is a mistake to attempt an ambitious integration of programmes. Coordinating the work of agencies with different interests and power takes time and scarce managerial skills, and can founder in bureaucratic politics. Many of the world's most successful people-centred programmes were developed with a single purpose: population planning in Indonesia, tea development in Kenya, and rural education in Mexico, for example. It may often be important for services to be available simultaneously, but not always essential that they be integrated administratively .
Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies