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Pilot your proposed intervention to demonstrate efficacy and practical benefits


Pilot your proposed intervention to demonstrate efficacy and practical benefits

Pilot your proposed intervention to demonstrate efficacy and practical benefits

Posted on August 13, 2019 by Karina de Souza

Authoring Organizations: Pacific Institute
Consulting Organizations: 2030 Water Resources Group
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
PVH Corp
Universal: No
Applicable Phases: Scale & Exit
Last Updated May 22, 2024


A pilot, or short demonstration of the project approach before it is implemented in full, can help to build confidence in the competence and capacity of the partnership. A pilot can also serve as an example on the ground to encourage future partners to join or to raise funding.


A pilot can quickly demonstrate partners’ capacity to implement a project, building momentum for broader commitment and support for the project. By contrast, if a partnership takes too long to implement physical projects on the ground, some partners may lose interest. 


  • Be aware of cultural norms and practices when setting up a partnership. In Ethiopia, for example, the challenge is less about getting the government to agree to plans and more about securing the government’s commitment to implementation. Demonstrate first and then the government might want to replicate.
  • Implement the pilot in a timely fashion, regularly informing stakeholders so they feel invested.
  • Monitor and evaluate any skill or capacity gaps during the pilot. This assessment may help to improve any future activities.


The Protecting Lake Hawassa partnership in Ethiopia identified a lack of effective solid waste management as a root cause for the pollution of the lake’s water supply. In Ethiopia there is a reluctance to implement any program of work without some previous example to demonstrate results. The local municipalities need to get permission from higher levels of government to do anything outside their usual way of working, so they prefer to have examples to support their reasons for change. A successful pilot increases the chances of government involvement and support.

The partnership spent the first 15 months discussing the partnership structure and process, and stakeholders started to grow weary for lack of action. Eventually the partnership piloted one of the first solid waste management activities. The pilot was successful and partners received requests from other municipalities to present their project so they could learn from the example.

In hindsight, a quicker implementation of the first project would have benefitted the partnership. Timely implementation would have motivated more partners to join earlier and implement other activities more quickly. A quicker implementation would also have allowed the project funding to be spent on time.

Projects that have validated this Lesson

Protecting Lake Hawassa is a broad and inclusive multi-stakeholder collaboration platform established in 2017, currently facilitated by the NatuReS programme, to improve water security for people, business and the environment in Hawassa, its lake and sub-catchment area. The partnership brings … Learn More

This lesson learned reflects the beliefs and experiences of the author, not necessarily the Pacific Institute, CEO Water Mandate, or UN Global Compact.