Third synthesis paper: Adaptive programming in practice: shared lessons from the DFID-funded LASER and SAVI

These 2 programmes are Legal Assistance for Economic Reform and State Accountability and Voice Initiative, Nigeria


Influenced by a wealth of research and emerging international consensus, key donors including UK Department for International Development (DFID), USAID and the World Bank are encouraging the increased use of adaptive programme approaches to address complex development challenges such as institutional reform and work in fragile and conflict affected states, in an attempt to increase impact.

Donors and service providers are however grappling with the complex practicalities of how to design, implement and monitor adaptive programmes – a challenge compounded by the recognised lack of practical case study material to draw on.

This paper has been produced jointly by 2 DFID-funded programmes – LASER (Legal Assistance for Economic Reform) and SAVI (State Accountability and Voice Initiative, Nigeria). Both programmes have been taking an adaptive approach to delivering development support for some time, and are achieving results. Although LASER and SAVI are very different - including in size of budget, sector, location, and aid modality – both deal with significant issues of institutional change in complex environments.

It is striking that despite programmatic differences, key aspects of their respective approaches to adaptive programming, as well as many lessons and challenges, are similar. This paper provides on overview of LASER and SAVI’s practical experience as suppliers and practitioners in designing, contracting, managing, implementing and monitoring flexible, adaptive programmes – complementing the more widely available perspective of academics and think tanks.


Derbyshire, Helen; Donovan, Elbereth. Adaptive programming in practice: shared lessons from the DFID-funded LASER and SAVI (2016) 36pp

Third synthesis paper: Adaptive programming in practice:shared lessons from the DFID-funded LASER and SAVI

Published 1 August 2016