The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the international development community in myriad ways. Beyond its devastating effects on health, education and nutrition programs, travel has been restricted, project implementation has been delayed or cancelled and funding priorities have evolved.
The pandemic has also forced a much-needed reckoning of the way in which technical assistance (TA) is provided. Traditional TA delivery models, which typically involve periodic, in-person visits from largely northern-based institutions are not viable in the short- and potentially long-term. Many in our field called for a reimagining of technical assistance prior to the pandemic, but current realities may lead to accelerated evolution.
Drawing from the perspective and experience of country actors and international organizations, this webinar sought to explore new approaches to providing support to in-country change agents that prioritize the agency, direction, and work of country and regional experts. The panelists explored coaching and other forms of TA used in response to COVID, before critically examining the future of technical assistance across sectors and geographies.
Among the questions that were explored are the following:
- What are the limitations of traditional TA models? What needs to change?
- How will new ways of operating in the midst of COVID-19 affect models of technical assistance modalities more permanently?
- What are innovative examples of technical assistance that place country and regional experts at the forefront?
- How can different actors – donors, implementing organizations, government actors – contribute towards a new way of providing technical assistance that emphasizes the expertise of local actors?
- Cheryl Cashin (moderator) — Managing Director, Results for Development
- Chris Atim — Senior Program Director, R4D
- Nkechi Olalere — Executive Director of the Strategic Purchasing Africa Resource Center (SPARC)
- Nathaniel Otoo — Former CEO of Ghana’s National Health Insurance Agency and current R4D Senior Fellow
- Abeba Taddese — Country Engagement Lead, EdTech Hub and incoming R4D Senior Fellow