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Which Systems Approach is Right for You?

The United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Local Works program promotes locally-owned and led development by connecting local resources to local actors. Under Local Works, the Local Systems Practice (LSP) Activity (2017 – 2020) is implemented by a consortium of five organizations – a combination of top academics and seasoned development practitioners – that directly assist USAID Missions and local actors in using systems-based approaches to address complex development challenges. These approaches are intended to foster a deeper understanding of the overall system; the local constituents and their priorities and relationships within the system; and how a development activity or intervention changes the system over time.

LSP has developed a ‘User’s Guide’ to engender greater understanding and application of systems tools by the activity’s direct beneficiaries, and by the development community writ-large. The User’s Guide provides practical guidance on how to use Network Analysis, Causal Loop Diagramming, Ethnography, and Participatory Systems Analysis in development efforts. The Guide details when and how each method or tool can be used, resources required for implementation, and corresponding case studies. The Guide integrates academic research, and the LSP consortium’s expertise, drawing from a variety of social science disciplines.

An online version of the User’s Guide can be found at www.localsystemspractice.org. You can also download a formatted PDF version of the User’s Guide here to share or reference offline. The User’s Guide is updated periodically with new case studies and other pertinent information, so stay in the know by signing up for the LINC newsletter in the form below!