Expanding Horizons: Scaling Up

As we covered in our previous blog post, scaling up means expanding, adapting, and sustaining successful policies, programmes, interventions, and projects in different places over time to reach and benefit a greater number of people and foster policy and programme development on a lasting basis. This blog post will explore how scaling up is implemented within the IrishAid project, “Best Practices for Scaling up Innovative Blue Economy and Coastal Climate Resilience Projects in the Caribbean” project, also known as SIP (Scaling Innovative Projects) for short, which builds on the HIT RESET Caribbean initiative.   

The HIT RESET Caribbean project funds nine third- party projects to support the development of innovative technologies to address challenges in Caribbean coastal zone management. These pilot projects address climate resilience and blue economy challenges in the CARIFORUM region. However, without effective frameworks to scale them up, the sustainability of these innovations remains uncertain. Our current project, SIP, promotes the scaling up of third-party projects from HIT RESET Caribbean. By doing so, it aims to create a User Guide that will offer practical advice and strategies for scaling up future initiatives. For more information on both projects, please visit our blog.   

Scaling up is crucial for ensuring that the benefits of successful projects are sustained and expanded to impact more people. Despite their initial success, many projects struggle to maintain their impact once funding ends. Innovative solutions may not achieve their full potential without effective scaling up, missing the opportunity to overcome challenges on a wider scale. Effective scaling often encourages long-term policy and program development through governmental and community buy in, creating a lasting positive impact.  

Over the period May 20th to May 24th, Dr. Asad Mohammed and Jaymieon Jagessar met with stakeholders from the project called Monitoring Informal Settlement Data (MIND SET), which is being implemented in St Lucia. It involves the use of drones to detect the growth of informal settlements. Our team met with government and private sector stakeholders to assess the scalability of MIND SET. Using the scalability assessment tool developed under the SIP project, they conducted evaluations to determine the readiness and potential of the pilot project to engage in scaling. This involves assessing current resources, capacities, and community readiness.  

Generally, in scaling up projects, many barriers and facilitators exist. These include: (a) Fiscal/financial/ costs; (b) Political/ownership; (c) Policies, laws, and regulations; (d) Organization/ institution; (e) Environment; and (f) Culture.   

When assessing the scalability of the project in St. Lucia, several barriers were identified. These included:   

  • Suitable partners: The technically appropriate partner, may not be in the best position to assist the project for a number of reasons, including clear mandates. Thus, not only is early identification of appropriate stakeholders critical, so too is assessment of the technical and functional capacity of the stakeholder.  
  • Project Launch: Project launches are often treated as media events, but instead should encourage meaningful engagement of the stakeholders/actors early in the project’s life.  
  • Engaging stakeholders on the ground: This is good in theory but difficult in practice. Interacting with communities should be done after there is some buy-in by the appropriate state agencies, as it may lead to unfulfilled expectations.  
  • Documentation: It is important to keep and share minutes of meetings and discussions, as these provide valuable information on the decision making which avoids confusion. Additionally, agreements such as Memoranda between the project and various stakeholders, should be created as they can allow for roles to be defined and the creation of a functional relationship.  
  • Environment Scan: Understanding the root causes of the problem allows for tailoring effective solutions rather than allocating resources to superficial issues and quick fixes.  

Along with challenges, specific opportunities were identified, including strong community engagement and support from local authorities. Other facilitators to scaling are:  

  • Training: While the innovation/methodology being implemented in the project may have some technical capacity, training workshops enhance the sharing of questions/concerns between a range of relevant state agencies.​ 
  • Leadership: Sometimes, it might be better to go higher up the administrative ladder to find a new functional technical partner until the original one is reconstituted. However, this is determined on a case-by-case basis.  
  • Planning and Coordination: Effective integration and coordination mechanisms can facilitate project implementation. 
  • Policy Framework: Establishing or leveraging an existing policy framework can support the project’s long-term sustainability.  

Looking ahead, our strategies for scaling up include: 

  • Quantitative Scaling Out (Horizontal Scaling): Replicating successful outputs across various geographical places. This approach aims to expand the reach and impact of the pilot innovations. 
  • Integration into Government Policies: Working towards incorporating successful practices into national and regional policies to ensure sustainability and broader impact. 
  • Vertical Scaling: To continue driving the scaling-up process, establish forward and backward linkages with key stakeholders. This involves engaging with government bodies, private sector partners, and community organizations to ensure sustained support and collaboration.

Scaling up is essential for transforming successful projects into large-scale solutions that create a lasting impact. Assessing project scalability is a necessary step in the process. Through strategic planning, capacity building, and stakeholder engagement, we aim to extend the reach and effectiveness of coastal resilience and blue economy initiatives in the Caribbean. By developing frameworks and addressing challenges, we can ensure that these innovations benefit more people and foster sustainable local development. 

Our next blog post will give you more insight into stakeholder engagement, a key barrier and facilitator in many projects. 

This project aims to provide support for projects which develop innovations to increase resilience in coastal communities of the Caribbean, as well as strengthen institutions, national and local governments’ ability to leverage information and knowledge for policy amendments.