Author: Mercy Corps & International Rescue Committee (IRC)
Year: 2016
Full Citation: Mercy Corps & IRC. (2016). ADAPTing aid: Lessons from six case studies. Mercy Corps. Retrieved from
Target Population(s): ,
Overview: The ADAPT partnership between the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Mercy Corps exists to address practical and conceptual gaps in adaptive management. The goal of ADAPT–Analysis Driven Agile Programming Techniques–is to bring about a step change in the way implementing and donor agencies plan, resource, and implement programs. This report describes six case studies in brief (with links to the IRC and Mercy Corps websites for the full cases) and draws out the key cross-cutting themes that generated the most discussion at a workshop held in 2016. The case studies were:
Methodology: Over the past year, we have conducted in-depth field research into six interventions in complex and volatile contexts. The output of this research was six case studies that shed light on three questions:
  • What does adaptive management look like in practice?
  • What impact can it have on programs?
  • How can it best be nurtured?
Data collection for each case study included: review of documents (such as project proposals, project tools, donor reports, and M&E reports); semi-structured key informant interviews with approximately 15 to 20 people in each country, both internal (covering different levels of seniority and different departments) and external (including local partners, other INGOs, UN agencies, and donors); and in-country reflection workshops. Some cases also made use of focus group discussions. Interviews, workshops, and focus groups were conducted by members of the ADAPT team from the IRC and/or Mercy Corps, during research visits to each project.
Findings: The six case studies form the basis for an initial set of lessons and insights into how we can make adaptive management a reality. These lessons fall broadly into five categories:
  • Dynamic and collaborative teams
  • Agile and integrated operations
  • Appropriate data and reflective analysis
  • Trusting and flexible partnerships
  • Responsive decision-making and action

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