Why Some Development Works: Understanding Success

Meera Tiwari

Publication Year: 2021

176 pages

ISBN: 9781786993601

Bloomsbury Publishing/ Zed Books

Why do some development projects succeed where others fail?

Using case studies from ten countries across Latin America, Africa and Asia, author Meera Tiwari looks at macro and some less know micro success stories and considers what enabled them to bring change.

While a macro level analysis of development is a common feature of the current literature, there has been little attempt to develop a micro level understanding of development at the grassroots. Tiwari’s work fills this important gap. Her approach draws attention to the importance of engaging local actors at an individual, collective, and state level, demonstrating how achieving a “convergence” of goals among all actors is a crucial component to a development project’s success.

Looking beyond the case studies to consider how this unique “convergence framework” might be usefully applied to other contexts, the book has profound implications for how we view fragile states and conflict zones, and the ability of the international agencies to take effective action. A unique study based on extensive empirical research, Why Some Development Works will make essential reading for students and researchers studying international development across the social sciences, as well as humanitarian and development practitioners and policy makers.

About the author

Meera Tiwari is an associate professor of international development studies at the University of East London, where she leads the MSC in NGO and Development Management.  Her interests and expertise include multidimensional understanding of poverty, the Sustainable Development Goals as a discourse for poverty reduction, and empowerment of the most vulnerable communities to access better opportunities in life. She has played an active role in a number of development projects around the world, including work with the NGO Childreach International in India.


To order hard copies of the book please visit Bloomsbury. 



“In contrast to prevailing narratives of environmental doom and social division, Meera Tiwari explores the politics of development success in recent decades. She shows that a combination of individual and collective agency and the ability to bring together statew and non-state actors in pursuit of a common goal underlines both macro and micro breakthroughs, and even shows promising signs in fragile and conflict-affected states. A valuable contribution to understanding how change happens” – Dr. Duncan Green, Professor in Practice in International Development at the London School of Economics, UK


“This book, by an authority on multidimensional poverty, represents a significant contribution to understanding what really works. In an era when many development programmes fail to make an impact, the convergence hypothesis explored by Meera Tiwari is much needed. Drawing on comprehensive research and expertise, this book takes as its premise that the energy, participation and aspirations of micro actors can play a critical role in the  success of international development.” – Diana Skelton, Policy and Practice Co-Editor at the Journal of Poverty and Social Justice, and National Coordination Team of ATD Fourth World