“What got us here won’t get us there” is a slogan that resonates with PCI because we know that we must continually strive for new and remarkably better solutions to problems that need to be addressed, whether they be a food security issue in an urban environment, a climate change challenge for pastoralists, or a financial management task that currently takes staff in our offices around the world way too many hours to accomplish. And if we don’t strive for new and remarkably better solutions, seeking them with the communities we serve, sometimes where we may least expect to find them, then we are not only failing to achieve optimal impact with our programming, but we are living the “definition of insanity”, which is to do the same thing while expecting a different outcome.
Local capacity strengthening and gender equality/empowerment are essential pathways to achieving lasting change at all levels – from individuals and their families, to the community, civil society, and government. PCI believes that it is only by strengthening local capacity, and by supporting women and girls to reach their full potential, that we can truly achieve positive change that evolves and continues to be responsive to an ever-changing environment over time. PCI’s approach to social mobilization and collective action involves the active promotion of local ownership and social capital that can be unleashed for greater and longer lasting outcomes across all intervention areas. Women and girls can be powerful agents of transformation in their own lives, and the lives of their families and communities. Similarly, local community organizations, civil society and government entities at municipal, state or national levels can also be powerful agents of transformative change when new and improved practices, policies and protocols are institutionalized and supported through a variety of financial and human resources that go beyond those brought by PCI and its funders.
But empowerment, capacity strengthening, local ownership and market forces, while critical, aren’t sufficient for sustainable impact. To truly achieve sustainable impact, we must improve our understanding of what lasts and what doesn’t, and why and why not. We need to carry out post project studies years after our interventions close in order to really know what contributes to lasting change. And then we need to ensure that what we learn is incorporated into the design and implementation of programs as part of quality improvement. This is important, not just for PCI’s own work, but for our ability to contribute to the global understanding of what actually does best contribute to sustainable impact.
In a nutshell, meeting PCI’s vision and mission for sustainable outcomes related to health, hunger and hardship are only possible if we innovate, strengthen local capacity at all levels, invest in and harness the potential of women and girls, and continually improve our understanding about, and evidence of, sustainable impact. This is why these are considered PCI’s “global priorities” as they cut across all of PCI’s intervention areas and are the key drivers of the kind of impact we strive for.