Turkana seen through a complexity lens

On behalf of Oxfam GB Kenya, Jean Boulton from the University of Bath, UK, carried out research in April–June 2012 to look at development interventions in Turkana in North Kenya through a “complexity lens” to see what insights or suggestions would come to light. She explored how complexity thinking could be relevant and practical for international development work. Complexity theory looks at situations as open systems influenced by history, context, local conditions, chance and events. Many experienced development workers in such complex contexts as pastoralism in eastern Africa naturally respond to the complexity and try to take a holistic and flexible approach in their work, but there is a tension between this way of working and the donors’ desire for measurement of attributable outcomes, accountability and value for money. Continued work is needed on methods of impact evaluation in a complex world to address this tension. The requirements of approaches such as logical frameworks and conventional M&E can constrain adaptive responses to local situations and the ability to build on learning, seize opportunities and adapt. The complete report can be found here, Zoe Driscoll gives a summary in “Mokoro complexity discussion” and Jean’s blog on the experience can be found under “Embracing complexity”.

Posted on 5 November 2012 in Pastoralism & Learning, Pastoralist Livelihoods