Pact's journey to 2024: Data, evidence and engaged communities

October 6, 2021
Community members stand in a field in Malawi. Credit: Maggie Dougherty/Pact

This week is a big week at Pact. We’re on the cusp of a new moment in our history. After kicking off a strategic review process in January 2021, and engaging widely with internal and external stakeholders, we have launched an exciting new three-year strategy.  

The strategy centers on a fundamental principle that underpins all our thinking at Pact: There’s no such thing as sustainable development without communities at the helm. As the debate on the decolonization of aid redoubles coupled with a better understanding of what it takes to make development endure, this central tenet is clear: communities must lead; we must listen, design accordingly and follow. 

This principle has guided us for much of our 50-year history and is central to our core values of respect, integrity and inclusion. We started as a membership organization that helped other nonprofits to better serve people in need by building their capacity. Two decades later, we became an independent organization, continuing our focus of helping communities and local organizations develop the skills and resources they needed to improve their social and economic conditions. Since that time, we have endeavored to deepen that fundamental approach while modernizing for the future. 

There’s no such thing as sustainable development without communities at the helm.

Our dedication to improving the lives of people around the globe who are affected by poverty and marginalization, and doing it in a way that enables them to overcome challenges on their own, is the guiding star of our new strategy. We call it Engaged Communities because when communities are fully engaged in their own development and not seen or treated as passive recipients of aid, then lasting change is possible.

Our role is to partner with communities and support them along their development journeys. But to do that effectively, our decisions must be driven by data and our program approaches tried, tested and based on evidence. Data and evidence are foundational to understanding and validating the impact of our work and holding ourselves accountable to the communities we serve. Data and evidence are foundational to scaling up impact and realizing important synergies across countries and regions. Data and evidence are foundational to being the kind of learning and leading organization we aspire to be.

We know the road forward will not be an easy one. The past 18 months have been some of the most tumultuous of our lives. After decades of progress, the absolute number of people living in extreme poverty rose for the first time since 1997, primarily due to Covid-19. We’ve seen backsliding in prevention, testing and treatment of HIV and TB; dire warnings on climate from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; and increases in gender-based and domestic violence. We have also seen a rise in racism and xenophobia around the world, misinformation and disinformation campaigns, and democratic backsliding. Within our own sector, we have grappled with the realities of how structural racism perpetuates the cycle of poverty.

The world has changed in these last 18 months, and we too must change and rise to new and existing challenges. 

We believe that by focusing on data, evidence and an engaged communities approach to our work, we can deliver more impact for the communities we serve. We can ensure they are armed with the tools, resources and evidence to choose their path.

This is a pivotal time in development. I invite you to learn more about our new strategy and to join us as we build on the promise and potential that exists in communities all across the world.