Exclusive IDS Support for SDC Field Offices around Poverty, Politics and Participatory Methodologies   


This collaboration between the SDC Quality Assurance/Poverty Reduction Section (SDC-QA) and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) aims to improve the quality and effectiveness of SDC processes and operations focused on poverty reduction. 

Whether you work in SDC field offices or operational units, you can request exclusive support from experts at IDS. These experts will work with you to explore issues, deepen understandings and formulate practical ways which can take your work forward. 

Working with IDS researchers will enable you to gain a better understanding of poverty and vulnerability and make the role of politics and power in the context of poverty more transparent. You will receive support for your everyday work ranging from formulating strategies, proposals and workshops to undertaking poverty and vulnerability analysis and designing new programmes/projects. 

IDS offers tailor-made programmes of collaborative work which include Accompaniments, Learning Trajectories and Mirror Events. Their focus, duration and direction varies according to the needs of SDC staff. This is a demand-driven programme:

   As SDC staff you are welcome to request assistance whereupon your request will be 'matched' with appropriate IDS researchers. 

Check out the modalities below and state your interest as indicated for each.




This collaboration includes three modalities. If you are interested in receiving IDS support through an Accompaniment or if you have topic suggestions for practically oriented Learning Trajectories or Mirror Events, please state your interest as indicated on each modality.



SDC divisions and SCOs can request 'accompaniment' in integrating poverty analysis, power sensitivity and bottom-up perspectives into its operations and projects/programmes. Entry points can be:

  • the scoping and development phases of CS and/or programme strategies

  • reporting for steering purposes

  • all stages of PCM

In each accompaniment process, IDS researchers will play a supportive 'critical friend' role.

  > Express interest for IDS support (click here to send email) 



  Learning Trajectory

This process focusses on making better connections between thinking, practice and the realities on the ground. Small groups of SDC staff with a similar interest form a peer group and are matched with an IDS mentor. They meet two or three times for reflective learning workshops. In between these meetings, group members undertake a process of reflective practice (applying methods of learning while doing). 


 > Suggest a Topic for a Learning Trajectory (click here to send email)



 Mirror Event



Mirror activities refer to IDS acting in a 'critical friend role' to ask provocative questions about SDC operations and policies and to make SDC aware of certain issues and trends or to challenge SDC practice in relation to poverty, power, and participation. Mirror events can be in the form of participatory seminars or workshops.

 > Suggest a Topic for a Mirror Event (click here to send email)

​​How can you benefit?


This collaboration is now in its third year and a number of activities have been taking place. The following examples illustrate some of this work and show how you can benefit from this unique collaboration:



 IDS has accompanied SDC staff from Headquarters and Country Offices in trying to ask questions such as: "Should SDC engage in urban settings and if so how?" The SDC staff involved felt this process enabled them to make more informed decisions regards their increased engagement in urban work, as well as provide findings and recommendations that were both useful and practical.

Two country offices have worked with IDS to use participatory approaches developed for different purposes:

In Bangladesh, an in-depth and extensive process was implemented with beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries of a large programme in order to compare their views of it to the reports submitted by the programme's implementing grantee.

The Southern Africa regional office requested support for integrating a light participatory process in order to bring the perspectives of beneficiaries and/or a wider group of citizens to its new regional Cooperation Strategy.

IDS was also requested to accompany the review of the poverty 'concept' of the SDC Dhaka team through consultations with SDC staff and implementing partners, along with field visits to beneficiaries, to ensure that the way poverty is measured is consistent with the SDC conceptualisation.


Learning Trajectories

 LTs have helped SDC staff to deepen understanding around some pressing issues such as inclusion of marginalised populations in policies and programmes, health programming with an equity focus, and the implications of growing inequality. In the Western Balkans issues explored together have included Roma women's empowerment and discrimination.  This was particularly focussed on taking a more inclusive approach to ensure these issues become part of institutional thinking, thereby making programmes more sustainable in the long term.

The learning trajectory option was also taken up by the Health Division who decided to analyse their work on mental health issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as non-communicable diseases in Kyrgyzstan. They have used IDS support to integrate social inclusion elements to the Moldova country strategy 2018-2022.


Mirror events

Finally, IDS has acted as a critical friend for SDC with Mirror Events. The first one in 2015, explored diverse challenges and opportunities on Social Protection; high-level management at SDC were presented with facts around under what conditions donors can effectively promote and fund these sorts of initiatives.

The second event, earlier in 2017, explored how different types of power dynamics play out in access to water and sanitation facilities, showing that the delivery and access of any service by those most marginalised is not all about technical solutions.

(view video on youtube)



More information on Social Protection Mirror Event

​​Steering Group

The purpose of the Steering Group (SG) is to:

  • become champions in understanding power and politics in relation to SDC operations
  • help increase demand for this collaboration by advocating to management and staff
  • monitor the progress of this collaboration


The SG consists of at least one staff from each of the four SDC domains. The following persons are currently our SG members:

  • Anne Moulin, Poverty and Social Development Policy Advisor, Quality Assurance and Poverty Reduction Section, South Cooperation, SDC
  • Pradeep Itty, Head, Quality Assurance and Poverty Reduction Section, South Cooperation, SDC
  • Reto Nigg, Programme Officer, Staff Unit, Humanitarian Aid, SDC
  • Katharina Stocker, Programme Officer, East Asia Division, South Cooperation, SDC
  • Laurent Ruedin, Programme Officer, Western Balkans Division, Eastern Cooperation, SDC
  • Kai Schaefer, Deputy Head, Staff Unit, Global Cooperation, SDC 



​​Further Information


This flier explains the aims and objectives of this unique Collaboration and how you can get involved: 

Download PDF in English  (1.89MB)

Bajar PDF en Español (1.89MB)



For more information, please contact Anne Moulin.