Guiding principles for development practitioners

In this report we identify five principles as key drivers of transformational technical assistance (TA), supported by a number of sub-principles.

These principles are that TA should:

  1. be country-led: TA should respond to demand, recognise the political economies within countries and be incorporated into national processes and institutions
  2. aim to support transformation: by targeting binding constraints, setting the strategy or policy agenda, or having significant demonstration effects
  3. be flexible: by reassessing the objectives and suitability as the situation evolves through adaptive programming. It should be best fit rather than best practice. It may involve intervention at the project, organisation and institutional levels and need to reach a wide range of stakeholders
  4. provide opportunities for learning: TA requires a strong M&E framework with clear assumptions and should be grounded in assessment and evidence
  5. be sustainable: with sustained engagement over multiple timelines. External actors should facilitate rather than drive change, ultimately reduce the dependency on external aid and financial support.

These principles are informed by and build upon previous principles defining transformational aid, such as those identified in the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (ownership, alignment, harmonisation, managing for results and mutual accountability) and work by others such as the European Commission (relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact and sustainability). They are relevant across sectors and apply to technical assistance provided to governments, private sector and the third sector.

The principles can be used to select between different options for TA and to design TA programmes which have a better chance of delivering sustainable and transformational impact.

Date: July 2017


Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)




Sustainable development