GDI Case Study Competition

January 15, 2019 to April 30, 2019


GDI is pleased to announce the winners of the first GDI Case Study Competition.The competition received 47 submissions from 29 organizations, and we thank all the authors who submitted their experiences to the competition. Case study entries addressed a range of development challenges in countries around the world.

The winning entries are:

  • “Public Service Delivery Improvement through Citizen Feedback” by Hasnain Iqbal, Punjab Information Technology Board
  • “Transforming Education in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa - A Case Study from Pakistan” by Hina Sabeen Khan, Adam Smith International
  • “Sustainable Health Infrastructure in Rural Myanmar” by Scott Jenkins, UNOPS
  • “Delivering in the Aftermath of the Earthquake: A Donor’s Perspective from the Haiti Infrastructure and Institutions Emergency Recovery Project” by Jordy Chan, World Bank Group

The winning student submission is:

  • “Reducing Maternal Mortality in an Indigenous Community in Morales, Colombia” by Silvia Villegas, Universidad de los Andes

The authors of the winning submissions will receive travel grants to attend GDI’s Annual Conference. Those winning case studies will also be published in the Global Delivery Library on the GDI platform.

About the Competition    

Development organizations face a range of challenges and obstacles as they carry out work in fragile and conflict-affected environments, from providing basic health care services in Afghanistan to sustaining financial services during the Ebola crisis in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Sharing stories of how practitioners overcame challenges during implementation is an important component of building our understanding of what works – and what doesn’t work – to address delivery challenges when working in complex contexts. 

To build this body of knowledge, the Global Delivery Initiative (GDI) is launching its first Case Study Competition. GDI is currently seeking submissions of case studies on projects and programs in fragile and conflict-affected environments. These concise, engaging case studies will focus on delivery challenges – obstacles that emerge during implementation and hinder development impact – and how implementers responded to these challenges.

The case study competition is open to individuals and teams of writers focusing on development programs and projects undertaken in contexts of fragility, conflict, and violence. It aims to crowdsource stories of how programs across different sectors, organizations, and regions are navigating the implementation challenges that emerge in fragile and conflict-affected environments.

Selected case studies will be published in the Global Delivery Library on GDI’s platform. In addition, the top 3-4 winning participants will receive travel grants to attend GDI’s Annual Conference in Fall 2019.

This competition is co-sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, Korea Development Institute and the World Bank.


Global Delivery Initiative 

The Global Delivery Initiative (GDI) is a partnership of over 50 development organizations focused on collecting and sharing operational knowledge, insights, and lessons to better understand what works – and what doesn’t – in implementation. GDI’s work aims to inform development practice and ultimately to improve development outcomes. The GDI and its partners use a variety of tools to support practitioners on the ground, helping them adapt to dynamic contexts and identify and address stubborn delivery challenges throughout implementation.


Delivery Case Studies

A core goal of GDI is to construct an evidence base of delivery know-how that cuts across sectors, countries, and organizations. Building this base of delivery know-how will deepen our understanding of how development interventions are implemented in context on the ground, the kinds of challenges that hinder implementation, and strategies that allow implementers to overcome them. The ultimate purpose of this work is to help practitioners make more informed decisions on program implementation and produce consistent results on the ground.

GDI’s delivery case studies aim to investigate complex delivery processes and surface tacit knowledge and insights from operations. GDI case studies identify challenges, pain points, and bottlenecks that arise during project implementation; analyze their root causes; trace how practitioners dealt with these problems; and document tacit know-how on what worked to address delivery challenges, what didn’t, and why. GDI’s case study approach aims to strike a balance between highlighting the critical role of contextual factors (as opposed to looking for “cookie-cutter” solutions) while identifying lessons, insights, and good practices that may have broader applicability.




The submission is closed. Thank you for your interest and participation.   
More information about the competition can be found in our FAQs.

Guideline for Writing a Case Study

We are looking for brief case studies - focused on how a program, project, or other development intervention grappled with delivery challenges (non-technical problems that hinder development interventions and prevent practitioners from translating technical solutions into results on the ground) in fragile and conflict-affected environments.

Please read the guidelines carefully before writing your case. 

1. Introduction (maximum 400 words)

This section should introduce the development challenge and provide the context for why addressing it was necessary and important. Development challenges are issues that countries face which, if resolved, would significantly contribute to ending poverty and enhancing the quality of life of their citizens. They are often associated with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This section should also introduce what the intervention was, who implemented it, and when it happened. 

A strong introduction should explain why this case is interesting/important and provide an effective frame/preview for the sections that follow.

2. Delivery Challenges (maximum 400 words)

This section should explain what delivery challenge(s) the practitioners faced during the implementation of the intervention and how the delivery challenge(s) hindered implementation of the intervention.

Please refer to GDI’s delivery challenge taxonomy for more information. You can find information on how the taxonomy was developed here

Most interventions encounter many delivery challenges in the course of implementation. However, writers should identify and focus on the main ones. You may want to explain why the selected delivery challenge(s) was (were) particularly important.  

3. Addressing Delivery Challenges (maximum 1000 words)

This section should provide a chronological, descriptive narrative of the actions taken to address the delivery challenges described in the previous section. 

A strong narrative should explain when the actions of the case study took place, as well as who took what action, and when, why implementers took particular actions, and how the actions contributed to addressing the delivery challenges.

This section may include discussion of pain points, inflection points, and efforts to adapt and course correct. Pain points refer to situations representing adverse conditions, dissatisfaction, bottlenecks or roadblocks impeding implementation. Inflection points refer to critical actions or junctures that moved implementation forward. Efforts to adapt and course correct refer to how program teams integrated new insights and changed initial implementation strategies and tactics in some helpful way, and how problems were overcome.  

This section should also include results, explaining what happened to the delivery challenges, whether expected or unexpected, positive or negative, as a result of the actions taken described in the previous section. 

This section is not about explaining the overall results of attempting to address delivery challenges, but could include evidence of development outcomes for beneficiaries when available and relevant, using qualitative and quantitative data.

4. Lessons (maximum 400 words)

This section should provide a set of keys lessons learned on implementation.

A meaningful lesson should be closely grounded in the circumstances and context of the case study and avoid broad policy prescriptions.

This section should present reflections on how the key findings from the case study have general applicability to development practitioners who work in environments characterized by conflict, fragility, and violence.


Key Time Line





Submissions Open

Submissions Close

Winners Announcement

Annual Conference




What is the purpose of the Case Study Competition?

The main objective of the competition is to further expand the evidence-base of delivery know-how in fragile and conflict-affected environments by crowd sourcing cases from a diverse range of countries, partners, and sectors. The competition will serve as a form for the sharing of valuable experiences, and as an inspiration for a greater focus on implementation, by recognizing projects and programs that are effectively identifying and addressing delivery challenges.

Who is eligible to participate in this competition?

The competition is open to everyone who wants to explore the mechanisms of success and failure – the processes of implementation while confronting fragile and conflict-affected environments. Practitioners, scholars, and students from GDI partners are encouraged to submit case studies, but you do not have to be affiliated with a GDI partner to submit a case study - the competition is open to all. 

We will be grateful to have a variety of case studies whether they are produced by implementing teams or academics.

Can I write about an old project -what’s the statute of limitations?

To maintain the relevance and “freshness” of case studies, we encourage cases to focus on interventions from the last five years. However, older case studies may be eligible for consideration if they offer solid lessons that are still relevant for current implementation challenges in fragile and conflict-affected environments.

What are the delivery challenges? 

Delivery challenges are non-technical problems that hinder development interventions and prevent practitioners from translating technical solutions into results on the ground. Delivery challenges should be guided by the delivery challenge taxonomy

You can find information on how the taxonomy was developed here.

How are delivery challenges different from development challenges? 

Development challenges are the major challenges that include “big picture” issues, like reducing maternal mortality, improving education outcomes, and ensuring access to affordable energy. Examples of delivery challenges, on the other hand, are the barriers to addressing these problems, such as poor coordination between central and local governments, lack of regulation or legislation, cumbersome procurement processes, and weak stakeholder engagement. 

Can we discuss more than one delivery challenge?

Yes, you can discuss multiple delivery challenges. However, this is particularly important in light of the word limit for each section. 

In what language should I prepare my case study? 

Only case studies written in English will be considered.

I am a student studying international development. Can I write and submit a case study?

Yes, you can as long as you have a good understanding about the project you are going to write about. Please make sure to coordinate with the manager who is responsible for implementation of the project before submitting the case and provide the contact information for the project manager during the submission process. We may contact the project manager for verification. 
What if I find difficulties with submission or have other questions?

We encourage everyone to submit your case study through the web site. If you encounter difficulties, or have questions about the submission process, please contact for further assistance.

Can I make changes to my submission? 

No, we encourage everyone to submit the final version of your case study using our submission form. You can start writing your case in the word file and copy it to the form.

Who will evaluate submitted case studies?

All submissions will be evaluated by the GDI Secretariat, with short-listed cases judged by a panel of experts in fragility and conflict from development organizations and think tanks.

What awards will the winners receive?

Selected case studies will be published in the Global Delivery Library on GDI’s platform. In addition, the top 3-4 winning participants will receive travel grants to attend GDI’s Annual Conference in Fall 2019. GDI retains the right to not select any winners if it so decides.

When and where is the GDI Annual Conference going to be held?

The date and venue will be announced on this website.

What are the key dates?





Submissions Open

Submissions Close

Winners Announcement

Annual Conference




For all questions and inquiries related to the GDI Case Study competition, please contact us at​