Sustainability was a key thread at the Spring CORE Group meeting. Multiple presentations of post-project sustainability studies highlighted the importance of working to insure the lasting impact of program interventions. These studies also examined program characteristics that contribute to sustainable outcomes. Of particular note, Beatrice Rogers from Tufts University presented a model of key sustainability planning concepts. To be effective, exit strategies must promote sustainability at the community level related to 4 factors: 1) assured adequate resources, 2) sufficient technical and management community/organizational capacity, 3) sufficient motivation to “want” to continue, and 4) adequate linkages with key organizational supports/government. These then foster ongoing continuation of service delivery, access and demand, which contribute to sustained behaviors and sustained impact. A project’s sustainability timeline should take into consideration developing adequate resources, capacity and motivation, and include a lengthy period of gradual transition to independent operation before exit.
Studies from Bolivia, Honduras, and Kenya that examined these concepts and describe the variations across sector and setting are available in the presentation slides here. You can also find additional resources about sustainability planning and evaluation at the Center for Design and Research in Sustainability.