Is it Possible to Harmonize Development Plans?

I had just put out a piece that explores whether countries in Africa are harmonizing the different plans they generate when someone asked me whether I’d be willing to call for harmonization vs alignment.

Development plans within governments don’t always come from the same department. In some countries, especially where the plans have external audiences such as United Nations agencies, the African Union or more recently The Open Government Partnership a plan could originate from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs while the Ministry of Planning is working on one of its own. So, let’s unpack this just a little bit.

Harmonize

to be in agreement in action, sense, or feeling:
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/harmonize

Align

to bring (a person, country, etc) into agreement or cooperation with the policy, etc of another person or group:
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/align?s=t

 

It almost seems, by implication, that for governments to align their development plans there has to be a ‘line’ to start with. One that can be ‘toed’ by other plans. In Kenya, we have Vision2030 as the long term development plan every other plan should draw from. It’s the one every other plan should be aligned with. Harmonizing seems to focus on ensuring general agreement despite difference in approach or thematic focus…some alignment is implied here as well. For instance, I expect the subnational development plans put together by county governments to be harmonized which may mean general agreement for instance on basic goals related to healthcare delivery.

So do we harmonize or align?

I think we should do both.