Redesigning development support during a pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a redesign of the delivery of development programmes. It has required creative solutions, resilience, adaptation and innovation. What have been the implications both internally and externally for clients and partners? What role have companies like Integrity played in this reimagining?

These were questions Katie Bigmore, Integrity’s principal MEL expert and leader of Integrity’s COVID-19 response taskforce, sought to answer during a webinar on this issue organised by British Expertise International (BEI).


At first, we looked at what we were doing and how we needed to shift and adapt our service offer, then we began to help our clients redesign, manage and adapt their programmes, providing rapid support and conducting real-time assessments. We gathered independent feedback, looking at what new evidence is needed to help inform programming and to reach those in need. Crucially, we ensured that the evidence gaps were identified and that the data being generated was available for informed decision making.”


Katie Bigmore on Integrity’s response to COVID-19

Katie focused on three of the six areas that set the parameters for Integrity’s COVID-19 response.

The first of these was the different types of adaptation support we provide across the portfolio, programme and project levels.

For the large FCDO portfolios Integrity supports, we have helped undertake portfolio-wide reviews, reprioritisation and particular issues or themes. At programme level, the need has been around providing cross-learning, cross-country facilitation, or cross-programme or project facilitation. At the project level, the demand is for new types of rapid information to be able to respond to and understand the implications of COVID-19.

So whether it has been Governance reform in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, health systems work in Syria, family planning in Pakistan, social protection in Afghanistan, education in Somalia – for each of these programmes, we have been invited to help support adaptation and respond to COVID-19, looking at the implications or thinking through some aspect of COVID-19 going forward.

The second area Katie highlighted was around learning, a major area of focus for Integrity.

Where we offer learning services, they have been extended to look at what the lessons from the response to COVID-19 might be. In Pakistan, for example, where we have a project to improve access to family planning, there was a great deal of concern around COVID-19 reversing potential gains based on modelled data. So we were asked to undertake a research study to see what changes were happening in practice. We were able to collect data through the programmes themselves and government sources that showed what was actually happening in practice. This provided interesting insights that have implications for future programming in health.”


Katie Bigmore on learning 

The third example Katie provided was around risk mitigation. She explained how Integrity looked at how to link up some of the changing risks being experienced related to context alongside changing risks in delivery and operation due to COVID-19.

We ensure that, as we look for the emerging risks and how to manage them, we are also considering how these changes interconnect. Change is very rapid and fluid. It is important that a risk mapping approach takes that into account.”


Katie Bigmore on managing risk

Other speakers on the panel were Donald Lunan from DAI, Sarah Fox from Options and Kristen Turra, Palladium, who also shared their experiences and lessons in delivering and supporting development programmes during the COVID-19 pandemic. The webinar was streamed via the BEI website on 8 December 2020.

You can view or download Katie’s presentation here.

For more information on Integrity’s COVID-19 response, please visit our COVID-19 News page.

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