A critical issue in international development is how donor-funded programs can support sustainable and long-lasting changes in assisted countries. Among the factors associated with sustainability is improved governance. However, many donor-funded initiatives are focused on achieving results in specific sectors, such as health, education, and agriculture. How can how governance interventions contribute to achieving sector-specific results? This brief explores this question and discusses how international development practice has incorporated recognition of the links between governance and sector outcomes. The brief develops a stylized continuum of how governance elements relate to sector interventions and contribute to expected outcomes. We discuss factors that either impede or impel governance integration and close with some observations regarding prospects for integrated programming. The audience for the brief is the international development policy and practitioner communities, and secondarily, academics with an interest in the topic. Key take-aways include: (1) there is ample evidence of positive contributions from improved governance to sector-specific outcomes, but few guideposts exist for practical and effective governance integration; (2) barriers to integration include urgent sector priorities that overshadow governance concerns, requirements to demonstrate progress towards ambitious sector targets, and complex choices related to measurement; and (3) sustainability and self-reliance are major drivers for integration and are facilitated by the flexibility and adaptation that governance integration enables.
September 2018 Open Access Peer Reviewed
- There is ample evidence that improved governance has positively contributed to sector-specific outcomes. But macrolevel analyses, broad conceptualizations, and decontextualized interventions offer few guideposts for practical and effective governance integration.
- Project designs range along a continuum, from ring-fenced sector-specific programming to fully integrated governance and sector activities. A large middle ground includes projects that incorporate governance activities during implementation, adjusting approaches to the demands of the operating environments, and scale-up of interventions.
- Barriers to integration include urgent sector priorities that overshadow governance concerns, requirements to demonstrate progress toward ambitious sector targets, and complex measurement.
- Sustainability and self-reliance are major drivers for integration and are facilitated by the flexibility and adaptation that governance integration enables.
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