Cross-sector Policy and Practice at the Department for International Development (DFID) in the UK and Nepal
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Bovill, C. (2004) Cross-sector Policy and Practice at the Department for International Development (DFID) in the UK and Nepal.
Within international development, global agreement around the goals of poverty elimination and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has led to renewed emphasis on 'joined-up working', partnership, and cross-sectoral approaches. This emphasis has been motivated by concerns to ensure coherent policy and practice between the plurality of actors in an increasingly complex global arena. The realisation that previous sectoral approaches to development have often failed to impact beneficially on poor people, has added to the calls for more cross-sectoral approaches that better reflect poor people's crosssectoral lives. This paper is based on research into cross-sector policy and practice at the UK Government Department for International Development (DFID), in the UK and Nepal. Definitions and concepts of cross-sector policy and practice are explored including a 'cross-sector continuum' model representing different levels of collaboration. Visual diagramming and other participatory methods were utilised as techniques for exploring and representing cross-sectoral processes and relationships. DFID have made some significant structural changes and have engaged in discussion to improve cross-sectorality. There are examples of varying levels of cross-sectoral engagement throughout the organisation, but these were strongest at country and project levels. Gender, sustainable livelihoods and HIV, along with individuals that have a particular commitment to collaborative approaches, can act as catalysts for institutional change in cross-sector policy and practice. Other factors that facilitate cross-sectoral approaches were also identified. However, the research found that collaborative rhetoric within DFID documentation is not matched by the same level of commitment to operationalising cross-sectoral approaches. DFID face some major barriers to adopting cross-sectoral approaches including: a disjuncture between its role as a government bureaucracy and its role as a development organisation; a primary focus on product rather than processes; and the current pursuit of central level and sectoral approaches thought by some to be incompatible with cross-sectorality. The challenge is exacerbated by 'disciplinarity' and 'territoriality' within DFID, particularly involving the health sector. Although this study focused on DFID, the findings and some of the participatory methods used in this research offer lessons about cross-sectoral and broader collaborative working to a much wider audience.