“Scaling-Up” is one of the biggest challenges in development. Interventions that work well with small populations routinely face challenges in expanding to a larger number of communities. As demonstrated by the Policy Research Report on Localizing Development, this is particularly true of participatory and community-based interventions. Such projects hinge upon their adaptive capacity —the ability to be nimble, to learn by doing, and to make mid-course corrections in management and design—in order to be effective.

The Social Observatory has been working for more than four years with the $2 billion portfolio of livelihoods projects in India to improve their capacity to adapt. An inter-disciplinary team of economists, sociologists, behavioral scientists, and management information system specialists have been embedded within project offices engaging in a constructive collaboration with operations, in order to help improve implementation on the frontlines.

In this talk, Rao—who leads the Social Observatory—will describe this approach and highlight findings from impact evaluations and in-depth long-term qualitative research to show the “how and why” of when livelihoods interventions succeed and fail. He will also demonstrate a new method of Peer-Tracking that allows communities to generate census data with which they can monitor their own progress, make better allocation decisions, and provide a source of information to engage with the government to improve public services.

This talk was held on December 8th, 2015. Link to the video recording of the event can be found here.