1st Edition

Harnessing the Power of Collective Learning Feedback, accountability and constituent voice in rural development

Edited By Roy Steiner, Duncan Hanks Copyright 2016
    286 Pages 92 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    286 Pages 92 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    What were new ideas 30 years ago, such as the concepts of participatory development and systems thinking, are now accepted norms in international development circles. The majority of professionals engaged in rural development accept the proposition that the people who participate in development should play an active role in defining, implementing, and evaluating projects intended to improve their productivity and lives. However this goal remains unrealized in many development programs.

    Harnessing the Power of Collective Learning considers the challenges and potential of enabling collective learning in rural development initiatives. The book presents 11 case studies of organizations trying to develop and implement collective learning systems as an integral component of sustainable development practice. Through systematic reflection on action and experience, key lessons and themes emerge regarding the nature of voice, participation, feedback loops, accountability and transparency, that will be useful for many others in the development community.

    This book is a useful resource for academics, practitioners and policy makers in the areas of international development, sustainable development, organizational development, philanthropy, learning communities, monitoring and evaluation and rural development.

    Prologue 1. The Development Conundrum 2. Digital Green - Enabling a Collective Process of Learning in Rural Development 3. Grameen Foundation - Learning from Feedback 4. Farmer Voice Radio - Multi-Level Collaboration To Engage Farmers Effectively 5. Keystone Accountability - Constituent Voice 6. Transformative Power of Dreams: A PRADAN Case Study 7. Enabling a Collective Process of Learning in Rural Development Women Empowerment in Agriculture-a Progression of Learning in CARE 8. One Acre Fund – Listening to Farmers 9. IDEO.org - Designing with Farmers 10. Trust, Collaboration, and Collective Learning Synergos Experience in Namibia and Ethiopia 11. FOSCA - Promoting Inclusive Development through a Process of Learning and Mutual Accountability 12. Kenya Markets Trust - Learning through feedback loops 13. Conclusion


    Roy Steiner is Director of Learning and Impact of the Omidyar Network and was the former Deputy Director of the Agricultural Development Initiative at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program.

    Duncan Hanks is the Director of Organizational Learning and Development at the Baha’i National Centre in Canada, a global board member of the International Environment Forum and, since 2007, an independent consultant to the Global Development Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Agricultural Development).

    "Harnessing the Power of Collective Learning is an encouraging and valuable contribution for those in the development community who believe in the immense power of people and communities to transform themselves. It highlights new possibilities for collective listening and learning to drive rural development, improve lives and make the world a better place." – Kofi A. Annan, Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation, Former Secretary-General of the United Nations (1997-2006)

    "All development practitioners should read this book. In a dozen case studies it brilliantly distils the powerful experience of collective learning involving donors, NGOs and rural people." – Sir Gordon Conway, Professor of International Development, Imperial College, UK

    "Sustainable development requires collaboration, but creating and maintaining collaboration is hard. This book presents important approaches to building the shared understanding, personal and collective alignment, trust, and ongoing community participation essential to improving lives around the world." – Peggy Dulany, Founder and Chair, Synergos, USA

    "This is a must-read for anyone working in or studying international development. Too many people approach this field with either top-down ideas or a superficial understanding of participant-led development. This book is entirely different, providing both a framework and practical insights into how to work in this field with humility and strength, to maximize the learning we can all do together." – Nava Ashraf, Harvard Business School and Jameel Poverty Action Lab at MIT, USA