Following the completion of the Social and Economic Development (SED) Fundamental Review on 15th June 2015, DFID asked IMC to respond with proposals for a redesigned SED component. While strong progress in achieving the agreed May 2015 LogFrame targets was acknowledged, the SED Review provided a timely opportunity to reflect and adapt the design and delivery of the SED component to achieve more sustainable impacts and offer better value for money.
Connect aims to deliver maximum and sustainable impact. Our design is efficient, innovative and builds upon the physical infrastructure components of RAP3 effectively. We have worked closely with our key stakeholders – local traders, farmers, co-operatives and banks in Mid and Far West Nepal, local and national private sector companies, Government of Nepal (GoN) and DFID – to ensure buy-in and ownership of the new design.
Connect activities will be limited to 5 RAP3 districts comprising four road maintenance districts (Achham, Dailekh, Doti, and Jumla) – where the RAP3 roads have already been completed and one new build district (Bajura) – where a good road network already exists.
A New Identity
The component 'RAP 3 CONNECT’ as new name, or ‘CONNECT’ in short, in order to appeal and gain attraction with local and international stakeholders. This name has been ‘tested’ with communities within our districts who feel this is a strong and meaningful name that they can identify with.
A New Approach
The Connect approach is to harness the commercial opportunities that already exist in the region – primarily the production and sale of agricultural services and products. We will do this by:
- leveraging private sector investment and interest in these commercial opportunities through reducing the risks of investment in Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in our districts to enable the scale up of activities; and
- working to strengthen the enabling environment to promote entrepreneurship and enhance accessibility of business opportunities to individuals in the region, particularly women and youth.
Connect has kept central:
- The agreed core mission statement of ‘Maximising the positive impacts of improved road infrastructure on the people of Mid and Far Western Nepal (M&FW) to address socio-economic constraints to development and promote sustainable livelihood improvement;’
- The original objective of the RAP3 SED component to contribute to RAP3’s overall objectives, particularly RAP3’s Output 3: ‘Local Economic Growth’; and
- Recommendations from the SED Fundamental Review, MEL Reality Check Approach Report and DFID to refocus SED interventions to:
a. Achieve catalytic / transformational impact by capitalising on improved road access;
b. Accelerate market systems development;
c. Deliver equitable distribution of sustainable benefits; and
d. Target the poorest.
How Will We Do This?
Our work will be heavily dependent on developing and nurturing key collaborations and partnerships. These will span:
- Private Sector - to increase investments and commercial activities;
- District governments - to improve coherence in planning processes of social and economic development activities;
- Industry bodies (District Chambers of Commerce and Industry) - to increase local leadership and voice of women; and
- Academia (Kathmandu University School of Management) - to promote entrepreneurship among youth.
Our approach principles:
- Joined up Working - Working in synergy with stakeholders and partners is central to our approach. We recognise that we are stronger and more effective together and that ultimately a coherent and coordinated approach will yield more sustainable impact.
- Ensuring Sustainable Solutions - Connect is tasked with promoting long-term catalytic and sustainable change. If we cannot determine our exit strategy from the pilot or partnership at the design stage, it will not receive funding. We want to work with our partners to think strategically about how we can ensure the enduring success of our work so that the impact can be felt and enjoyed long after the Connect team have left.
- Innovate and Adapt - We are trialling a new programme of work through a series of pilots in a challenging region. We will learn as we progress, adapting our approach to respond, and maintaining space to change course.
- Active Learning and Advocacy - We will seek to capture learning in real time about how well these approaches are working and how they might need to be adapted. We will make ‘space’ for genuine reflection. We will start by further unpacking the causal pathways and assumptions within Connect’s Theory of Change, to identify the kinds of information we should be capturing to understand what’s working.