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Adaptive programming and going with the grain: IMAGINE's new water governance model in Goma, DRC

Kirk, Thomas, Green, Duncan, Stys, Pat and Mosquera, Tom (2023) Adaptive programming and going with the grain: IMAGINE's new water governance model in Goma, DRC. Development Policy Review, 41 (4). ISSN 0950-6764

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Identification Number: 10.1111/dpr.12691


Motivation: This article explores adaptive approaches to development programmes that aim at improving service provision in underperforming sectors in fragile and conflict-affected states (FCAS). It does this through a case study of the IMAGINE (Integrated Maji Infrastructure and Governance Initiative for Eastern Congo) public-private partnership model for water provision in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Purpose: The processes and decisions that culminated in the model used for IMAGINE emphasize the need for programming that is culturally and politically aware, responsive to events, learns in real-time, is entrepreneurial, and works with the grain of local institutions to support change. Detailed case studies of such ways of working are crucial for programmes that seek to challenge and reform the status quo in FCAS. Methods and approach: The article is based on 42 semi-structured interviews conducted in the summers of 2019 and 2020. They reflect the broad spectrum of actors—individuals, public authorities, and organizations—involved in IMAGINE's evolution. Findings: The narrative focuses on IMAGINE's attempts to professionalize and commercialize Goma's water sector. It shows how, as IMAGINE repeatedly adapted to ground realities, it took on the characteristics of a public authority, thereby, engendering backlashes that threated its longer-term goals. However, by revisiting its initial values and logics it was able to get things done and achieve its aims. Policy implications: IMAGINE's story suggests that adaptive programmes should put politically savvy local development professionals in key positions and enable them to carefully construct coalitions of allies across the systems they aim to disrupt. This may also require them to revisit and adapt their initial ideas, guiding principles, and values as greater understandings of development problems are gained. A public authorities approach, attuned to the logics that programmes seek to address and introduce to FCAS, may help analysts to focus on the implications of such adaptations.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Authors
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: T Technology > TD Environmental technology. Sanitary engineering
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2023 16:24
Last Modified: 16 Jun 2024 18:12

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