• Report
  • 5 March 2021

Our ten-year strategy: 2021–2030

DI’s ambition, focus and approach to help deliver a more equitable and resilient world.


Graphic illustrating what DI provides, how it contributes to change and how it supports partners, as outlined in detail in our strategy.

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Our strategy to 2030

Decision-makers require real-time, comprehensive, disaggregated information on the needs of people, in order to implement the right policies, financing and mechanisms.

UN Secretary General, António Guterres.

Unlocking insight, shining a light on progress, empowering others

Our mission is to work closely with partners to ensure data-driven evidence and analysis are used effectively in policy and practice to end poverty, reduce inequality and increase resilience.

Our purpose is to apply the power of data and evidence to build sustainable solutions that create an equitable and resilient world.

DI provides:

  1. greater visibility of financing
  2. high-quality, data-driven analysis
  3. sector expertise to develop policy interventions and financing mechanisms
  4. technical expertise on data management and quality
  5. training and workshops to foster a culture of data use
  6. content creation services bringing data to life
  7. geographical expertise

We partner for impact, contributing to change by:

  1. strengthening data ecosystems
  2. increasing use of data-driven evidence
  3. creating a culture of data use

We support our partners to:

  1. better respond to people’s needs through improved quality and use of data and evidence in policymaking
  2. improve the quantity, quality and coherence of public finance and private investment
  3. create a more equitable world by challenging systemic and structural barriers to progress and supporting the reform of existing systems.
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Our ambition

What DI aims to achieve over the coming decade

Over the next decade, the decisions we make and the actions we take are going to dictate whether we successfully overcome major global challenges that threaten to reverse progress on poverty, exacerbate inequality and reduce the future resilience of livelihoods, communities, governments and institutions.

A better future is possible, but a huge collaborative effort is required to overcome these challenges. At Development Initiatives, we are committed to playing our part by providing data-driven evidence and analysis to inform and support governments, donors and philanthropic organisations, civil society and NGOs, business and beyond.

Data has the power to unlock insights, shine a light on progress and empower people to increase accountability. Robust, comprehensive and timely data is a key component of success.

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The challenge

Key issues we must address if we are to create a better world

The persistence of extreme poverty combined with large inequalities, protracted crises and mounting environmental pressures threaten sustainable social and economic development and undermine peace and stability.

Weakened economic growth will pull millions of people back into poverty and limit the opportunities of many more. Some groups of people continue to be marginalised and left behind based on characteristics such as gender, disability, or age. These groups are often also impacted by intersecting factors, such as socioeconomic disadvantage, discrimination and unequal access to resources. Lack of robust data, alongside various political and social factors, contributes to the challenges that prevent the needs of all communities being acknowledged and addressed.

Sufficient and appropriate financing and investments to end poverty, minimise the impact of crises and strengthen resilience have been a persistent global challenge.

National governments and international organisations are increasingly taking an integrated approach to tackling poverty and a lack of climate resilience, yet responses are fragmented and mobilising new resources remains a challenge.

Currently, investments to support sustainable and cost-effective solutions that help the poorest and most vulnerable people are not enough and are exacerbated by a disconnect between knowledge and practice. Coherence of policy and financing between the development, climate, humanitarian and peace-building communities at all levels continues to be a challenge that holds back progress.

Many global, regional and national systems and structures perpetuate poverty and injustice, increasing different forms of inequality. Those living in fragile or insecure environments – whether because of conflict, weak governance, or environmental degradation – face multiple challenges that are even more complex to resolve. Conversely, the costs of unsustainable progress are also distributed unequally.

Often these costs disproportionately impact the poorest people and places, specific groups (such as women and girls), people with disabilities and other marginalised groups. As a result, millions of people continue to live in poverty and lack access to basic resources (such as nutritious food, clean water and energy).

As we increasingly recognise the interconnectedness of global and national challenges, it is clear that the longer term consequences of entrenched inequality, which perpetuate poverty, are not limited to a marginalised few. Addressing these inequities requires more than better data and greater investment – it requires strong and effective governance systems, accountable governments, strong international norms and standards, as well as transformed and effective multilateral institutions.

Challenging and transforming underlying systems and structures is essential, not only for a more equitable society, but also a more prosperous and stable one.

This decade is already witnessing rapid changes in national and international financing landscapes and the institutions that manage them. These changes are exacerbating existing challenges. However, with the right leadership, ambition and knowledge, change can also be an opportunity to maximise the impact of our collective effort.

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What is needed

Data must play a vital role, if we are to succeed

A commitment to end poverty, reduce inequality and build resilience must be underpinned by global, regional and national action plans that set out the right policies and programmes; adequate and good quality financing; as well as mechanisms to monitor their implementation and impact.

Decision-makers require real-time, comprehensive, disaggregated information on the needs of people in order to implement the right policies, financing and mechanisms.

This data needs to exist in an accessible and useful format. To be effective, data needs to be ‘analysis-ready’, and analysis needs to be ‘decision-ready’. Data systems in fragile and conflict-affected states are particularly in need of attention, since they are generally weak or non-existent.

With poverty increasingly being concentrated in fragile contexts and countries experiencing significant demographic shifts, understanding the changing needs of people is critical. Fundamentally, strong data ecosystems are vital so that everyone can discover, access and share the data they need.

Increased access to information enhances people’s agency, empowering them within their communities.

New technologies and the increasing digitisation of data offer the promise of new solutions. To fully realise the benefits of technological transformation, data management should be approached holistically. It needs to be supported by the development of processes and practices that deliver robust data governance, ensure data protection and uphold ethical data use. We need to increase expertise and availability of digital resources, training and ‘how-to’ tools for governments, civil society and citizens, so they can produce and use data. In this way we can harness new analytical opportunities and prevent the digital divide widening, to ensure that some groups are not left further behind.

An increase in good quality, coherent financing is essential if we are to deliver on the SDGs and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. All investments, public and private, need to deliver on sustained progress that is not eroded by future crises. We should also look for opportunities to better align financing with knowledge on what works and how it should be directed to meet and deliver on agreed international and domestic public policy commitments.

We all need to put unprecedented effort into working effectively together to maintain a powerful force for change and progress over the next ten years. And at DI, we will be reaching out to our partners and working with them to achieve the ambitions set out in global frameworks at the regional, national and subnational levels.

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The role we will play

How we will apply our skills and expertise to drive change

DI is a trusted partner to all we work with, from governments and international institutions to civil society. We inform their campaigns and policies and ensure they can advocate from a position of strength – underpinned by robust evidence.

Over the next ten years, collaboration will remain at the core of our approach. We will continue to build partnerships, expand our network and increase the support we provide to others, because we know this is the best way to achieve sustainable change.

We will also seek to inspire others to develop a culture where data and evidence are valued, motivate people, and lead to change; and where technology supports greater inclusion, access and voice. Our dedication to the use of data and evidence in decision-making, informed by locally-led and globally connected solutions, makes us perfectly poised to play this role.

We will continue to draw on the expertise and experience we have gained since DI was founded over 25 years ago in order to provide the following for our partners:

  1. Greater visibility of financing. We will support and assist policymakers to leverage the right quantity and quality of financing for specific policies and programmes.
  2. High-quality, data-driven analysis. Our work will provide a clear understanding of needs; information on what works where and why; and analysis on financing, appropriate mechanisms available and how they could be leveraged.
  3. Sector expertise to develop policy interventions and financing mechanisms. This will support our partners to address poverty, inequality and build resilience.
  4. Technical expertise on data management and quality. This will result in better informed development of policies and programmes, and decisions that make real impact.
  5. Training and workshops to foster a culture of data use. This will mean that our partners can continue to benefit from the data long after a specific project has ended.
  6. Content creation services bringing data to life. This will support development of policies and programmes, and decisions that make real impact.
  7. Geographical expertise. We will ensure the advice and support we provide is tailored to the local context and relevant to partners striving for social change.

These activities will enable our partners to:

  1. Develop and refine policies which build resilience and address poverty and inequality.
  2. Increase understanding of policies and programmes that deliver on the intended impacts.
  3. Identify and develop the right types of intervention for each context.
  4. Ensure the appropriate finance is available to support the intervention and if it isn’t, explore what can be done to leverage new financing.
  5. Provide analysis that will improve the allocation of resources to where the need is greatest.
  6. Track the impact of interventions and understand not only who is benefitting, but also who continues to be left behind.
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Drivers of change

Three core areas we will focus on to maximise our impact and achieve our mission

We will partner for change to help:

  1. Strengthen data ecosystems to increase the collection, sharing and use of data that is open, comprehensive and underpinned by responsible production and management.
  2. Increase use of data-driven evidence to contribute to an evidence base by turning data into insight and actionable analysis that can be used in policy and practice.
  3. Create a culture of data use to increase skills, expertise and confidence in data, showing how data can drive better outcomes, and providing digital tools that make data use accessible and easy.

Underpinning these drivers of change is DI’s passion, expertise and belief in the power of comprehensive and timely data, and data systems. When used well, data makes hidden challenges visible, increases transparency of financial flows, reveals patterns and trends of who is and is not benefiting, and helps inform better decisions to build equitable and inclusive systems and solutions.

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Partnering for impact

Why we are putting collaboration at the heart of everything we do

Our three drivers of change are connected by DI’s focus on collaboration and partnering for impact.

We know that one organisation alone cannot create the change we aspire to. Only by working together and understanding how we support each other can we reach our shared goals.

Our contribution forms part of a wider chain of impact – a broader ecosystem of actors aiming to build a more equitable and resilient world. Our focus on data and evidence unlocks insight, shines a light on progress and empowers people to increase accountability. Alone it does not and cannot achieve our vision of a better future, but it is a necessary part of getting us there.

We will work with others to inform policy and practice, change mindsets and influence debate at the global, regional and national level to bring about the changes we want to see.

We will support our partners to:

  1. Better respond to people’s needs through improved quality and use of data and evidence in policymaking.
  2. Improve the quantity, quality and coherence of public finance and private investment.
  3. Challenge systemic and structural barriers to equity and support the reform of existing systems.

Testimonials from our partners:

“DI’s data on poverty offers an opportunity to make informed decisions especially when we make strategic plans to increase the incomes of small scale farmers.”

Mount Elgon Coffee and Honey Co-Operative, Uganda.

“A big general thank you to you all at Development Initiatives for everything you do. It makes such a difference for the humanitarian sector to have high quality and regular data.”

Hugo Slim, Senior Research Fellow at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford, UK.
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Foundational principles

Our principles guide who we are and how we work, informing organisational culture and shaping the services we provide

  1. People. DI puts people at the heart of its agenda. We serve the world’s poorest and most marginalised communities. We aim to bring about change in their lives and increase opportunities for all through improvements to systems, structures and resource allocation.
  2. Simplicity. DI believes less is more. By making data and evidence simple, visually appealing and clear we can reach people who would otherwise be excluded from accessing information that could empower them.
  3. Partnerships. DI encourages collaboration, connection and community. We bring people together from different places, with different experiences, ideas and perceptions so we can come up with better ideas and solutions to achieve our purpose.
  4. Perseverance. DI believes anything is possible. Through hard work, focus and commitment, change is possible. But change takes time and requires dedication. Our organisation embodies perseverance, focus and resilience in the face of obstacles.
  5. Transformation. DI does not believe in standing still. We are always learning, developing and changing. We believe it is important to constantly seek out new ideas and ways of working; explore innovations and technological advances; and develop projects to achieve transformation and unlock change for all.
  6. High performance. DI is thriving because it consists of (and is informed by) high performing individuals, who challenge and encourage each other to do better. We are all committed to being the best we can be. As an organisation, we value quality, rigour and attention to detail.
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Our core values

Our values define us and run through all that we do

They have been developed by staff to embody how we work with each other and our partners.

  1. Purpose-driven. Everything we do is motivated by our shared desire to contribute to positive change in the world.
  2. People-centred. We are supportive, friendly and considerate, with mutual respect for how people think, work, live and identify so that together we thrive.
  3. Transparent. Openness and honesty are at the heart of how we work, driving high levels of trust, as well as fair and ethical practice.
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Our evolution to 2030

How we are changing to ensure we realise our ambition

Over the next ten years, we will strengthen our capabilities to deliver on our goals. DI will develop and change as an institution to ensure we are effective, innovative and responsive to need.

Our new operating model will be supported by a network of Hubs around the world. This will enable us to be closer to the organisations and people who we want to collaborate with at all levels, from global institutions to regional, national and subnational organisations. We will work with our partners to strengthen data ecosystems in these locations, and ensure our evidence and analysis is tailored to the needs of our partners.

Each of our Hubs will be anchored in a regional capital. They will coordinate work with and through partners and consultants in countries within the region. These Hubs will primarily operate in countries with stable governments committed to a transformative agenda aligned with DI’s values. We always seek to work in locations where there is an open and effective civil society and a commitment to data and evidence.

To deliver on our goals for the next decade, we will strengthen our capabilities and transform our organisation through a range of activities.

  • Build a network of Hubs to lead on regional partnerships and alliances to deliver our strategy. These Hubs will provide the contextual understanding for our work in each region.
  • Strengthen our ability to conduct and manage research. This will include application of review processes that ensure work delivered through all our Hubs adheres to DI standards and quality.
  • Establish a Technical Hub in Uganda which leads on DI’s technical services to governments and CSOs. This Hub will help our partners to improve their data systems, increase confidence of data users and ensure good data governance to regulate data management and prevent misuse.
  • Strengthen our offering to partners through improved collaboration and management processes, so that DI is recognised as a ‘partner of choice’, resulting in more DI-led consortia.
  • Recruit experts with the skills, experience and connections to achieve our goals. We will recruit staff with political economy, policy analysis and specific-sector experience. We will also seek out individuals with established relationships with policymakers, social impact investors and regional and global institutions.
  • Invest in the latest channels, products and tools to engage directly with decision-makers and those who influence them.
  • Increase our brand awareness through strong collaborations with NGOs, CSOs, academic institutions, as well as many other thought leaders and organisations.
  • Invest in our Strategic Impact Framework to help teams develop and deliver programmes that catalyse systemic change. We will monitor progress, support implementation and learn from successes and failures.
  • Keep diversity and inclusion at the centre of everything we do. We will continue to value new ideas and diversity of experience; maintain and develop DI as a great place to work; and provide a safe and empowering environment for everyone we work with.

DI’s work will focus on fragile and crisis contexts as poverty shifts into these contexts and building resilience becomes a priority. Case studies from fragile contexts will inform our analysis. Although consultants and staff may travel to fragile contexts for specific assignments, we will not set up operations at a national level in states which are fragile, conflict-affected, insecure and difficult to operate in.

Resourcing our ambition: From 2021 to 2030, we expect DI to expand as an organisation through our network of Hubs. We will continue to engage our major donors as partners with whom we co-create and co-execute strategies, while also mobilising new funding for our regional work. We will strengthen our ability to secure and manage large multi-year grants and contracts. We will continue to provide a mixture of services to our partners – including governments, international non-governmental organisations, civil society organisations (CSOs), social impact investors an corporate partners – supported by grant income and through contracts.