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PracticePractice Briefs
World Bank

Adaptive Programming: Addressing Unintended Consequences

Many violence prevention programmes are designed based on a theory of change that sets out pathways to expected results drawing on the available evidence. While this is important, in reality, social change is not linear and programming on the ground is o en messy and unpredictable and produces a range of outcomes – intended and unintended. However, the unintended consequences of interventions – whether positive or negative – are often overlooked. Yet we must understand them if we are to ensure programs do no harm and instead maximise their positive impacts on women, their families, and their communities.

This practice brief explains why it is critical to track and respond to the unintended consequences of violence prevention programming. It gives practical examples from the experiences of organisations and proposes approaches to support this process and promote organisational and programme learning and adaptation.

Key Issues

  • What are ‘unintended consequences’ of programming and why is it important to track them?
  • What have been some examples of unintended consequences of VAW prevention programming?
  • What have been the various experiences of these issues in different organisations?
  • What tools and approaches can be used to track unintended consequences and adapt VAW prevention programme to changing realities?
Date published
  • 2018
  • Lyndsay McLean
  • Camilla Devereux
Published by The Prevention Collaborative