Using a problem-driven approach in Ethiopia

Guest blog by Abdu Nuru

It was my director in my department who sent the email to us briefing us about the program. It specifically addressed those who were in a more senior leadership level as it would be more important. I read the whole email and I knew it wasn’t meant for me because it said case team leaders and blah blah blah. And I thought who said that? The last thing I could get is rejection and if I am accepted, it would be a great experience. I applied and I was admitted.

That was my journey to the first formal online program, and it ended up being a very important course especially to people who work in a similar sector to me. From defining a regional or national growth problem to devising a high level and inclusive strategy, Leading Economic Growth offered miraculous insights and approaches on how to solve complex problems.

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Evaluating ecomonic growth in Ethiopia

Guest blog by Mohamed Omer Hussein

It was a very beneficial course for me. I learned a lot from it.

The Atlas of Economic Complexity is a godsend. It has detailed information about the imports and exports as well as the exact composition of the economic and trade activities of my country, Ethiopia. It’s also very customizable and visually appealing, and you can get what you want from it.

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Digging Deep into the Policy Challenge Paves the way to Overcome

Guest blog by Teshome Mengesha Marra

When I first receive my acceptance letter to this worldwide executive education program, I had no detail information on its modality and contents. I thought that the program would be provided through lecture notes, discussions, assignments, and maybe a final exam because in many of my past educational pathways these kinds of formats were very common. Even in some of my short term education and training at various institutions, I have experienced more theoretical discussion and presentation rather a look at certain specific areas of practical aspects.

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Tackling limited diversification and decreasing exports in Ethiopia

Guest blog by Yilma Nati Tefsu

I want to start my answer to the final week of this amazing course by saying something different, something that has nothing to do with the question above but a reflection of the many positives I have gotten from this course and the great people I have met along the way. This course has not only taught me the means and tools to tackle my growth challenge but also has introduced me to as a set of like-minded and brilliant people who are seeking change and growth in their own little worlds, whatever shape that may take. Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let me dive into the questions.

Week 1 and Week 2 were a time for me where I struggled with what I know to be key challenges in my country and what the complex and critical challenges are in terms of knowhow/technology and approaches needed to solve the problem. Using this mindset, I narrowed down on were three issues I felt needed to be addressed. These challenges were limited export diversification, constrained Institutional capacity for implementation, and emerging macroeconomic imbalances.

While all three challenges were critical in both the context and how they can be solved using the PDIA approach as a way forward, I also felt that looking at the rock song chart of Professor Ricardo and the Atlas of Economic Complexity Outlook for my country, that limited diversification and decreasing exports (need to identify new sources of growth) was the growth challenge that I needed to focus on.

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To Increase Girls’ Schooling, Improve Girls’ Learning

written by Michelle Kaffenberger, Danielle Sobol, Deborah Spindelman, Marla Spivack

A new paper shows that girls who are learning are more likely to stay in school. Improving learning could be key to achieving both schooling and learning goals.

The G7 recently agreed to two new education objectives: ensure that 40 million more girls attend school and that 20 million more girls are able to read by 2026. A new RISE working paper suggests good news: that progress on the girls’ learning goal may actually be one of the keys to delivering on the girls’ schooling goal. 

The paper draws on longitudinal quantitative and qualitative data from the Young Lives Surveys in Ethiopia, India, Peru, and Vietnam to understand why children drop out of school. The quantitative data reveals a strong link between low learning and later dropout. The qualitative findings reveal that low learning often underlies other, more commonly cited reasons girls drop out such as marriage or work. Girls report seeking ways to provide for their futures, and when it becomes clear that they are learning too little for school to provide future security, they seek other means such as a husband or a job.

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The Legitimacy of Performance and Problem Oriented Institutional Development in Ethiopia

Guest blog written by Etambuyu A Gundersen


I had very high expectations of the course and what I was going to get out of it in terms of gaining not only new knowledge but also important skills in policy implementation that would assist me in my job. The course went above and beyond my expectations. The problem focused dimension of the Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) eludes most practitioners in the policy space, explaining the high percentage of policy implementation failures. The IPP course has taught me not only how to create a space that enables learning in the process of policy implementation but also the importance of teams in driving the process in which a problem is identified and a solution or multiple solutions are designed to respond to the identified problem. I have since modified my idea of legitimacy and functional success based on the PDIA framework.

The key learning for me was realising that implementation is not the end phase of a policy cycle, it is just as important as the conceptual and formulation phase. In fact, it is a critical phase of the policy cycle because it is in the phase of implementation when things normally go very wrong, no matter how well designed a policy is. Engaging with an eco-system that either enables or inhibits the success of the policy requires acceptance of the problem and the cooperation of authorisers, all in the name of negotiating space for implementation.

The beginning for me was very muddled. As evidenced in my almost confused first fish bone. My policy challenge as I had conceptualised it was very daunting, my perceived role I soon realised was overwhelming. The fishbone exercise was an interesting moment during the process because it made me not only aware of my role and the limitations of my role but also strangely the opportunities that this presented because I did not have to shoulder the responsibility of this huge task on my own. I also realised that what I thought was the main policy challenge was in fact not. The structural set up of the Ministry of Peace was way beyond my sphere of influence even though I recognised that the new set up was a factor impacting on the policy challenge. My role and that of my organisation was made clearer after I identified through the fishbone the areas where other critical challenges needed to be addressed that would ultimately contribute to supporting the Ministry enhance its effectiveness when implementing its expanded mandate. Before the IPP course it never occurred to me to unpack and prioritise the role of my authorisers, I just assumed that they were on board since I have been assigned a task. The PDIA method helped me to deconstruct and recognise the critical role of authorisers, whom I needed to engage with and at which stage and what I needed to do to engage them in contributing to addressing my policy challenge. Continue reading The Legitimacy of Performance and Problem Oriented Institutional Development in Ethiopia