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Development Pathways celebrates its 10th Anniversary


2020 marks ten years since Development Pathways was first created. From an informal grouping of consultants – with Richard Chirchir (Principal Management Information Specialist) and Stephen Kidd (Principal Social Policy Specialist) at its heart – to an organisation with 40+ staff and offices in the UK, Kenya, and Malawi, the company has grown substantially in the last decade, and is now considered to be a world-leader in the fields of social protection and management information systems.

In December 2020, the company took its next significant step, welcoming Jonathan Faulkner as its new CEO. Stephen Kidd, the outgoing CEO, explained: “We’re delighted to bring Jonathan on board, with the change enabling our technical specialists to focus fully on where they can have the most impact, which is to work in support of countries across the Global South in establishing progressive social policies.”

Meanwhile, Jonathan, who brings with him 20 years of experience in the sectors of international development, humanitarian relief, international affairs and social policy stated: “Three weeks in, and I’m finding there’s so much to admire about Development Pathways. The people are great, with a clear passion to deliver technically excellent work. The stream of fascinating, astute and impactful ideas on how to address dimensions of vulnerability and inequality is constant. There’s a strong focus on maintaining our innovative edge, and on communicating our work to the world.”

In the last ten years, Development Pathways has worked in every corner of the globe, from Angola to Uzbekistan, the Pacific to Mongolia. During this time, it has been unafraid of challenging existing paradigms and of promoting an evidence-based progressive approach to social protection, underpinned by a commitment to human rights and gender equity. The organisation has consistently cemented itself as thought leaders, by delivering training courses, engaging in webinars and global policy discussions, and producing hard-hitting knowledge outputs, all of which aim to show readers and participants how to make the case for inclusive social policy.

The company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion has also translated into how it runs its internal operations. Not only has the company been committed from the very beginning to ensuring that the Kenya office is regarded as a global technology hub, as well as a centre for social protection in East Africa, but it has also recently launched the “Krystle Kabare scholarship” for a Kenyan student with disabilities. The “Pathways into Development Graduate Internship Programme” has also been designed to enable a Black graduate to embark on a year-long training programme within the UK office.

Staff at Development Pathways bring with them a variety of specialisms, and these are showcased by the solutions that the company provides. Our work begins at the point of policy advice and high-level design, but we also work in operational delivery and monitoring and evaluation. In celebration of our ten year anniversary, here are ten ways in which the organisation has left its mark:

1. We have provided governments and development partners with robust digital technology solutions: Development Pathways has informed the design and development of programme management information systems and large integrated information system platforms around the world, including in Uzbekistan, Myanmar, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Liberia, Kenya, Somalia, Rwanda, Uganda, Namibia, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ghana, Zambia, Nepal, Pakistan, Indonesia and Angola. The technology that the company provides is cutting-edge, co-created with strong client input, built to last, and, where applicable, fully automated for maximum efficiency. We have also written a number of papers on these systems, including for GIZ and HelpAge International.

A good example of our work is Uzbekistan’s Single Registry for Social Protection. The integrated information system platform supports end-to-end social protection delivery by facilitating API linkages to multiple government databases for income verification. It also increases data capture efficiency by pulling information from national ID and Passport systems. Most recently, it has supported both vertical and horizontal expansion strategies as part of the government’s COVID-19 response.

2. We have made significant contributions to the debate on targeting: Over the last ten years, Development Pathways has sought to demonstrate, through evidence-based discussion and analysis, that poverty-targeted social protection schemes are incapable of accurately identifying the poorest citizens within a country. Recent analysis, conducted in collaboration with the Church of Sweden, shows that universal lifecycle social protection systems are much more effective than ad hoc poverty-targeted programmes at reaching both the intended recipients and those living in poverty.

One such example of a universal programme is Kenya’s Older Persons Cash Transfer for over-70s, which was rolled out by the Government of Kenya in 2018. Development Pathways is delighted to have played a role in supporting the Government in designing and delivering this social pension.

3. We have promoted a human rights-based approach to social policy across our work: By regarding social protection benefits as individual entitlements, Development Pathways aims to design and deliver systems that are inclusive and non-discriminatory, and which do not “other” beneficiaries and burden them with unnecessary and onerous conditions and sanctions. Development Pathways always aims to put recipients’ dignity at the very centre of the process and to adhere to guiding principles and standards to ensure that systems are accessible, adaptable and adequate. Human rights principles have been embedded within the many national social protection policies and strategies that we have supported.

4. We have empowered policymakers to simulate how to reform social protection systems: Our Social and Economic Analysis team is at the forefront of developing innovative tools to help policymakers and practitioners to better design social protection schemes. Our online microsimulation tools are a powerful means of enabling the user to test how changing the parameters of a scheme – including coverage levels and transfer values – will have different impacts and require different levels of investment. These tools have given governments and policymakers the freedom to redesign their social protection systems in a way that best suits their needs.

5. We have been a strong proponent of implementing child-sensitive social policies: Our situational analyses in South Africa, Mongolia, Kosovo, and Indonesia, for example, have demonstrated the challenges that children and adolescents face, along with their caregivers. We have also analysed how effectively social protection systems are enabling children to reach their full potential (for example, in Uzbekistan, the Maldives, and Fiji) and have shown how a Universal Child Benefit could help Sri Lanka’s children to thrive and not just survive. Our innovative “multi-tiered” approach in Viet Nam demonstrated how a tax-financed Tier 1 child benefit could be offered to recipients outside of the formal economy and a higher contributory Tier 2 benefit could be offered to those who contributed to the social insurance system.

A good example of our end-to-end solutions is the support we provided to UNICEF and the Government of Angola for the policy and operational design of its first social protection scheme: a Universal Child Benefit. The child benefit for under-fives is an appropriate first step in building a broader citizenship-based social protection system: it is inclusive by nature and no child of eligible age will be excluded or left behind.

6. We have provided governments and development partners with high-level policy advice on social protection policies, plans and financing: We have written a range of social protection sector reviews in countries including Kenya, Uganda, Somaliland, Bangladesh, Viet Nam, Uzbekistan and Indonesia, and have helped governments develop their national policies and strategies, for example, in Lesotho, Rwanda, Viet Nam, Kenya, Indonesia, and Bangladesh. Between 2010 and 2020, Development Pathways also provided the Government of Uganda with policy advice on the Senior Citizens Grant, which contributed to the recent national roll-out.

7. We have advanced the development of disability-inclusive social protection systems around the world: Development Pathways has demonstrated itself to be a thought-leader in how countries can develop a disability-inclusive social protection system. A seminal paper, titled: “Leaving No-one Behind: Building Inclusive Social Protection Systems for Persons with Disabilities” was released in 2019, providing a global overview of the accessibility of social protection schemes for persons with disabilities and formulating practical proposals for how to make systems and schemes more disability-inclusive. Development Pathways has also developed a Disability Benefit Database which provides a global overview of social protection schemes for persons with disabilities in low- and middle-income countries, including transfer levels and number of recipients.

8. We have developed robust operational processes for the social protection systems we have helped deliver: We translate our core values of inclusivity, dignity and rights into the operational design of social protection schemes. We have developed a framework for the design and management of social protection programmes, provided an overview of social accountability initiatives, and addressed issues around social exclusion and access to social protection schemes. We’ve also supported a range of Governments and development partners in designing operational delivery systems, including in Malawi, Mozambique, Haiti, Angola, Somalia, Rwanda and Zimbabwe.

9. We have made recommendations for fiscal stimulus packages that could be delivered in response to COVID-19: The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a truly global shock, and countries without a lifecycle social protection system in place were likely to be disproportionately impacted. In 2020, Development Pathways engaged in a number of projects that looked at the impacts of the pandemic on household income and wellbeing, and provided proposals for the fiscal stimulus packages that governments could introduce. Examples of our work include Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, as well as broader South Asia and Asian overviews. We recently conducted background research for Oxfam International’s report: “Shelter from the Storm: The global need for social protection in times of COVID-19”, by analysing the scope and adequacy of social protection responses around the world.

10. We have conducted in-depth quantitative and qualitative research in a variety of countries: Our work spans evaluability assessments, theories of change, monitoring frameworks, data collection and survey analysis, and mixed methods. Examples include situational analyses on persons with disabilities, older persons, refugees and the Karamojong in Uganda; a baseline report on children in Indonesia; an examination of the challenges that adolescents face in Mongolia; and a multi-year qualitative research study in Kenya.

In the last ten years, Development Pathways has helped shape social protection discussions and has become a leading partner to governments and development actors around the world. As the company continues to grow, and with a new CEO at its helm, stay tuned to see what Development Pathways does next!

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