This case study is part of the AIP-Rural Learning Series

Development impact requires people and organisations to change their behaviour. Development programs seeking large-scale, sustainable impact require this behaviour change to spread, and to continue after program support ends. When we understand this, we begin to ask fundamental questions. What factors help market actors to sustainably change their behaviour? What factors hinder sustainable behaviour change? What factors help or hinder change from spreading? In this case study we use a new framework, combined with examples from AIP-R, to help answer these questions. We also show how programs can use their answers to improve interventions’ chances of achieving sustainability and scale.

Market Systems Development (MSD) program guidance suggests that we start to answer the above questions by understanding market actors’ incentives and capacity to change behaviour. Whilst MSD practitioners find this guidance useful, incentives and capacity are often assessed incorrectly. Typically this happens when practitioners overlook market actors’ non-monetary incentives and barriers to changing behaviour. When this happens, the risk of an intervention failing to achieve scale and sustainability is much higher. Factors discouraging or preventing market actors from adopting and spreading behaviour change go ignored in intervention design, so barriers may remain.

A recent paper helps practitioners to avoid this mistake, detailing a wide range of ‘Actor Behaviour Change’ (ABC) factors that frequently shape market actors’ incentives and capacity.[1] It should be emphasised that these ABC factors were not used in a structured way by AIP-R in designing their interventions. Rather they capture the tacit understanding of AIP-R staff as to why some of their interventions achieved sustainability and scale, and others did not.

As well as offering explanations, this case study offers guidance. From AIP-R’s experience, we draw out lessons on how MSD programs can improve their interventions’ scale and sustainability, through widespread, lasting behaviour change.


[1] Lomax & Shah (2018) Ease of Behaviour Change: a tool to help design for intervention success. Springfield Centre Briefing Paper. Available at

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