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If it works, scale it up!

Posted by Roxanna Samii Thursday, February 28, 2013


by Rosalie Lehel, IFAD Natural Resource Management Programme Support Officer, East and Southern Africa

Nairobi, Kenya – Sometimes what is important is not only to have a new idea, but to be able to expand what already works.

That was the key message of the first 3 days write-shop on scaling up frameworks that took place in Nairobi, Kenya. Organised by IFAD, the write-shop gathered  together members of the Kenyan Government, representatives of associations and project coordinators to talk about what scaling up means, and how to put it in practice.

Scaling up can be defined as ‘’expanding, replicating, adapting and sustaining successful policies, programs or projects in a given geographic space and over time to reach a greater number of the rural poor’’.
In order to be scaled up, the model needs to have a vision that sets the appropriate ultimate scale along with the timeframe. Next comes the identification of the drivers that are pushing, or are expected to push, the scaling up process and of the spaces that need to be created. Finally, the determination of the pathways that define the way interventions are to be scaled up, and what IFAD can do to promote the process.

After a presentation of the above scaling-up process, the participants had been asked to apply it to the models of intervention they wanted to scale up through a writing exercise: for every model, they had to  identify the vision, the drivers, the spaces, the pathways and IFAD’s role. This was a useful and practical way to check the participants’ understanding of the subject matter. Towards the end of the workshop, each participant had to make a presentation on the scaling up process of their model.

An example is the water resource management model, presented by Maria Notley, technical adviser of the Water Services Trust Fund. The model’s goal is to bring different users together and give them training on integrated water resources management and financial resources for planning and implementation of the water resources management activities. The idea was born in Kenya, where several water resources users’ associations (WRUAs) were formed in the 1980’s around critical water bodies and catchment areas. The first WRUAs were voluntary associations formed in the situations where the resource was either diminishing or deteriorating or upstream and downstream users were in direct conflict over the use of the resource. The vision of the programme is to reach 1200 WRUAs, and the main driver is the motivation of local level water users. Many spaces, such as financial, cultural, institutional, learning, partnership and environmental needed to be created in order to scale up the idea. The pathway of the process has a time frame of the next 5 years, and implies a large scale up with finances generated by water users in order to have multiple impacts such as increased awareness, practical activities in catchment areas, increase flow and better quality of water resources, increased availability of water  for population and production.

But the scaling up doesn’t stop there. The role of knowledge management and community building is fundamental, and has to be implemented in every phase of the process. IFAD will soon launch a platform that will put together the experiences, the lessons learned, and the tools to achieve successful scaled up models.

Even though the scaling up approach is still work in progress, the mind-set is already changing: the projects are now seen as dynamic, and with a wider dimension. The on-going internalization has already started with the integration of the scaling-up process in the project design and more will come. The scaling-up of the scaling up mind-set continues.  

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