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How DFID Learns (ICAI)

Independent Commission for Aid Impact

Study of the way DFID learns and how it applies its learning

Excellent learning is essential for UK aid to achieve maximum impact and value for money. This study examines the way that DFID learns and how it applies its learning.  The study found that while DFID generates considerable volumes of information, much of which, such as funded research, is publicly available, DFID is less good at using it and building on experience so as to turn learning into action. DFID does not clearly identify how its investment in learning links to its performance and delivering better impact. DFID has the potential to be excellent at organisational learning if its best practices become common. DFID staff learn well as individuals. They are highly motivated and DFID provides opportunities and resources for them to learn. DFID is not yet, however, managing all the elements that contribute to how it learns as a single, integrated system. DFID does not review the costs, benefits and impact of learning. Insufficient priority is placed on learning during implementation. The emphasis on results can lead to a bias to the positive. Learning from both success and failure should be systematically encouraged.

Areas of Expertise

Aid policy

  • Aid effectiveness
  • Performance management and accountability
Media Coverage: The Guardian

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