SSR Trends and Challenges

Module 1 - Policy

While many of the foundational principles of SSR have been widely agreed, the nuances of the SSR approach are still being developed, adapted and defined within a global policy framework. Practice and policy continues to evolve in line with continuously changing global security threats, lessons identified from tried and tested approaches to SSR, and shifting priorities of the donor community.

  • The expanding role of multilateral donors and the decline in number of bilateral SSR programmes.
  • Maintaining and building SSR knowledge at headquarters remains a challenging problem for the field. 

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Module 2 - Programme Design

Donors are improving their planning and design for programming, conducting more needs assessments, building longer term approaches, and setting out clearer logic models for their interventions. In contrast, there appear to be fewer innovations or developments in regards to tendering, implementation modalities and overall coordination of the preparatory phases with other donors. This section includes an overview of the planning cycle for programming, how initial needs assessments are carried out, how implementation modalities are selected, and the processes used for tendering.

  • Planning remains strongly donor driven, and often poorly integrated into the programme cycle, resulting in gaps between implementation periods.
  • We have not yet solved the problem of overpromising what programmes can realistically deliver, given the very long term nature of SSR governance reform. 

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Module 3 - Programme Implementation

No matter how good your needs assessment is, or how well your programme design targets the real issues, the impact and sustainability of an SSR intervention depend on successful implementation. Programmes struggle to hire and then retain the right staff, to implement the designs in the way that was intended, and to build and maintain local ownership over the process and outcomes. 

  • The promise of Theory of Change approaches remains constrained by the lack of analysis of those theories as evidence from implementation is gathered.
  • Planning for and focusing on the sustainability of outcomes remains poorly integrated into programme implementation. 

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Module 4 - Monitoring and Evaluation

Good monitoring is the core element of knowing what a programme has achieved, and good evaluations are required to demonstrate this. Unfortunately much of the evidence of sustained systemic and behavioural changes is available only years later, and programme monitoring is often flawed and unable to provide the required evidence of impacts.

  • SSR programmes have rarely deployed impact studies to identify sustained changes, and gather evidence of actual outcomes and impacts.
  • Good indicators of governance improvements remain few, poorly researched, and rarely tracked.

View Presentation - Module 4

Do you know of any other good examples of SSR trends and challenges that we have not discussed here? Tell us about it here - post a topic to the ISSAT Forum.