Can we build a better project: assessing complexities in development projects

Making predictions about which development projects will deliver value for money hinges on investing in accurate and attuned assessments.

A volunteer farmer trainer in Kenya explains how to grow fodder for dairy cattle. Photo Credit: ICRAF/Sherry Odeyo

A volunteer farmer trainer in Kenya explains how to grow fodder for dairy cattle. Photo: ICRAF/Sherry Odeyo

When development workers congregate to discuss solutions and innovations, there’s often one big elephant in the room: a lot of development projects don’t work. It is an uncomfortable and, I suspect for many, truly frustrating truth that hard efforts to combat poverty and increase food security often don’t pay off.

In 2011, the World Bank evaluated 86 projects and found that 41% had “non-positive outcomes.” Unfortunately, this is not an example that stands alone, and the trend understandably has project funders and investors keen to ensure that future projects deliver value for money.

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