May 2022 Newsletter
Welcome to the May edition of the TWP CoP newsletter! We bring to you the latest news and updates on all things TWP. Find out more below.
Dear Friends and fellow travellers on all things TWP,
Firstly, we are delighted to welcome Kate Whyte, the new Head of Profession for Governance at FCDO, to the TWP CoP Steering Committee. We could not be luckier to have Kate on board: she is a well seasoned fellow TWP traveller, and she knows and has worked closely with several members of the TWP community over the course of her 17+ year career as a governance adviser both at DFID and FCO, and at FCDO of course. Kate has also worked for the BBC (Moscow) and the EU (Georgia) and as a consultant on public sector reform and local governance (including for PwC) before joining HMG. Her geographic focus has largely been on Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia and Russia (including long stints in Georgia and Russia) but she has also worked on Fragile States policy, as well as spent time working in Nepal and briefly on West Africa as a regional conflict adviser. Kate has recently been on surge to help with the UK response to Russia and Ukraine, but she is now back to her "day job" as she has put it, and we hope to involve her more fully in the work of the TWP CoP as time allows.
This edition of the newsletter features some very interesting work that colleagues are undertaking in the TWP space, including reflections from Bruce Byiers (who is also a TWP CoP Steering Committee member) on regional integration in Africa, and Clare Castillejo and Pilar Domingo on the Women, Peace and Security agenda. As always, the newsletter also highlights recent publications, events, and other resources that seem especially relevant from a TWP perspective. What’s more, Tom Aston tells us about what he has been reading (a report from Christian Aid Ireland on adaptive programming) and why it matters.
As a reminder, please open the newsletter directly on your browser (click on the ‘TWP CoP May Newsletter’ header, at the top of this page) so that you get full access to all the content.
With all best wishes,
Alina & Graham
Highlight Feature: What we’re working on
This edition of the newsletter highlights a double feature of interesting work that is being undertaken in the TWP space.
The first focuses on the Women, Peace and Security agenda, while the second looks at regional integration.
I. Clare Castillejo, Research Associate, and Pilar Domingo, Senior Research Fellow, Politics and Governance, ODI, on TWP and the Women, Peace and Security agenda
The Women Peace and Security (WPS) agenda was established through the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 in 2000. Since then nine other resolutions have been adopted, in what constitutes a policy framework that recognises the gendered experience of conflict and war, and aims to ensure that women participate in every aspect and decision-making process related to peacebuilding and conflict prevention. The WPS agenda has thus become a strategic framework to advance gender equality within a diversity of wider peacebuilding efforts and post-conflict change processes. However, all too often this potential is not effectively harnessed, because the WPS agenda is interpreted in a highly narrow and normative way, rather than being used as an entry point for politically smart support for women’s mobilisation and for advancing gender sensitive transitions from conflict.
While the WPS agenda is a normative framework, it is also a deeply political endeavour as it has redistributive intent. Addressing the gendered experience of conflict and violence, and advancing objectives of gender equality, women’s rights and women’s voice and influence, often causes resistance, and the risk of backlash and ongoing conflict-related violence is high. This means that the implementation of the WPS agenda requires astute political strategies and tactics across political change processes relevant for peacebuilding and transitions from conflict.
This is an issue that we explored at length in a project on “Women, Peace and Security: Breaking down silos” that we have led for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, building on other research we have carried out on WPS over the years. Below we highlight some of the main findings, insights and implications emerging from this project.
(Post-)conflict transitions are often characterised by multiple and interconnected dimensions of reform and bargaining processes that shape political outcomes. These might include for example, constitutional reform, land reform, legal and justice reform, and fiscal reform among others. Such reforms offer important opportunities to advance a range of gender equality goals. Indeed, gender equality in one reform process can create opportunities in another and various reform processes can be used to advance a particular gender-equality goal such as women’s economic empowerment. Moreover, sources and forms of resistance are likely to be similar across different reform processes. Women activist groups frequently mobilise across a range of processes to advance their rights.
There are a few factors that are key to ensuring that international support to WPS efforts in conflict affected settings is politically effective and relevant.
First, we know that women’s organisations and movements are central to any progress in gender equality, so effective support requires a detailed understanding of how women’s movements and agendas relate to wider political economy dynamics and interests. This can help international actors enhance and amplify the work of women activists and their organisations by supporting them to develop their agendas and capacities, strengthen strategic coalitions and alliance-building , and access decision-making spaces.
Second, meaningful support for women’s voice and influence within post-conflict reforms requires international actors to provide sustained funding and strategic and operational support to a range of women’s organisations working at multiple levels. It also requires flexibility and adaptation to changing contexts or emerging opportunities for women’s mobilisation efforts.
Third, advancing gender goals within peacebuilding requires international actors to engage over the long term, recognising that change is complex, slow and non-linear. Reform processes inevitably entail negotiation and contestation, including over whether and how reforms will be implemented. At all stages – from initial bargaining shaping the political settlement, through formal and informal processes of institutional reform and negotiation, to implementation– there are opportunities to advance gender-equality agendas. At all stages there will also be resistance to these agendas. Supporting reforms that result in meaningful change for women therefore needs international actors to engage early and remain engaged following ‘completion’ of formal reforms to provide continued support to implementation.
In practice, a major challenge to effective support for gender equality in post-conflict settings has been that international engagement with different reform processes is largely siloed by sector. This results in missed opportunities to develop connections and synergies, and to build on progress across various processes. A more joined up approach is therefore needed, one that is based on detailed analysis of how different reform processes relate to each other and the implications of this for work on gender, and on greater coordination across thematic areas to promote gender-equality goals through multiple reform processes.
International actors thus need a more comprehensive, coordinated and political approach to WPS, connecting their engagement across different peacebuilding and reform processes to advance gender-equality goals. Doing this thinking and working in ways that are politically informed, in order to understand how context-specific bargaining processes shape opportunities to promote women’s participation and influence in reform processes; tailor their support to respond to shifting opportunities that emerge from such bargaining processes; and use political leverage and networking in strategic ways to build support for gender-equality goals.
If you are interested in reading more, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us (at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com respectively). All outputs we are producing as part of this research will be published shortly.
II. Bruce Byiers, Head of African Economic Integration, ECDPM and TWP CoP Steering Committee member on TWP and regional integration in Africa
Trying to work with regional organisations, originally in the context of EU-Africa trade relations, raised the question from Africans and Europeans: why do governments sign up to regional agreements but then not implement them? The challenge in thinking and working politically (TWP) regionally is that practitioners must not only seek to understand how political interests, incentives and power relations relate to regional ambitions, policies and contexts between countries, but also how these interact with political relations within countries. The webinar that we at ECDPM are planning with the TWP CoP towards the end of June 2022 will try and dig into how to bring this kind of TWP into regional approaches, focusing on economic integration in Africa.
Nearly a third of Africa’s mainland states each has more than five neighbours. That compares with around one in ten for the rest of the world. Having more land borders per country than elsewhere in the world underlines one aspect of the need for regional cooperation (using data here).
As COVID-19 and climate change starkly underline, many development issues are in fact transboundary, requiring regional cooperation to limit the negative cross-border spill-overs of public ‘bads’ such as disease or insecurity, or to maximise the benefits of sharing public goods such as water or increased access to markets.
In some respects, Africa is well placed for regional cooperation. The number of regional organisations in the continent has risen from around 50 at the end of the 1970s to 156 in 2020. And countries continue to expand their regional memberships - already a member of 14 regional bodies, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, is in the process of joining a 15th, the East African Community. At the same time, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), officially in operation since January 2021, is the latest, ambitious attempt to integrate markets and value chains across the continent, including between existing regional free trade areas. It seeks to be what the AfCFTA Secretary General has referred to as Africa’s post-COVID-19 stimulus plan.
At the same time, overlapping memberships raise costs to members either in paying contributions, allocating human resources or navigating inconsistencies and overlaps in regional trade procedures, for example. Different organisations have different levels of traction with their member states, and allegiances and interests vary according to the issues at hand. The AU recognises eight regional economic communities as the basis for economic integration, even if others, which sometimes include the same states, are often more integrated and active (for an overview see here).
Given all of this, promoting and supporting regional cooperation and integration is a complex undertaking. That may be why the speed and level at which regional commitments are implemented often lag behind agreed timelines. This leads to frustrations from policymakers not only in Africa but also among international partners heavily involved in supporting regional integration. Evaluations of EU and World Bank regional support have found that greater impact requires them to engage more systematically in political economy analysis work (discussed here).
Some external partners assume that they are engaging with like-minded actors - ‘surely the AU and other regional organisations are just like the EU’? - which is (‘not the case’!). Even where there is a better understanding of what drives and shapes regional cooperation, a key question remains: why do governments sign up to regional agreements but then do not implement them?
All of this highlights the need to think and work politically, regionally.
Over the past ten years, ECDPM has been building on wider TWP thinking in other areas to at least try to think politically about regional integration. This has involved carrying out political economy analyses of regional organisations across Africa, as well as understanding different regional cooperation dynamics in practice - along trade and transport corridors, for example.
But there is growing recognition of the need to go beyond the thinking part of TWP, and work in more politically aware ways at the regional level. Thus far, as in other areas of development and international engagement, the link from political economy analysis to practice has been tough to make.
The challenge in thinking and working politically regionally is that practitioners must not only seek to understand how political interests, incentives and power relations relate to regional ambitions, policies and contexts between countries, but also how these interact with political relations within countries. Though the need to deal with multiple interests and incentives is well recognised, it is less clear how regional actors take these principles into account in practice, and how international partners can support such ambitions from the outside. My ECDPM colleagues and I wrote a ‘how to’ note on “doing regional development differently’ back in 2016 to try to get the ball rolling on this, but clearly the challenge persists.
The difficulty is often to move from supporting formal regional agreements, strategies and action plans - where there is often external support - to catalysing actual action and implementation that can help promote economic integration on the ground.
Given this need to bring TWP to regional economic integration processes, we are planning a webinar with the TWP CoP to discuss Thinking and working politically about regional cooperation and integration in Africa.
The webinar will focus on three broad issues:
How do regional economic integration processes and support programmes currently take account (explicitly or implicitly) of between and within-country politics and context?
What lessons can be drawn from those experiences, both for regional policy and for the donor community?
What broader lessons are there for TWP, particularly in terms of its relevance for African actors?
Although TWP has been around for a while, and lessons are gradually being distilled, it seems that, to date, very little of this has been purposefully applied to regional work. This webinar aims to begin that conversation more explicitly, hoping to elicit some examples of regional TWP and to highlight ideas for how to bring TWP more concretely into regional thinking. If you are interested in learning more or becoming engaged in this conversation, please do get in touch with me at ECDPM, and make sure you tune in to the webinar! More details to follow.
What we’re reading
Stephen Gray and Andy Carl (2022) The Difference Learning Makes: Factors that enable or inhibit adaptive programming for Christian Aid Ireland and partner organisations. London: Christian Aid
By Tom Aston, Independent consultant
Christian Aid Ireland’s multi-country, multi-year Irish Aid funded Programme Grant II (2017-2022) in Angola, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, Sierra Leone, and Zimbabwe was designed to support marginalised communities to realise their rights, reduce violence, and address gender inequality. They opted to move away from a linear programme management approach to explore an adaptive one. The Difference Learning Makes captures the learning from that process on whether and how adaptive programming made a difference.
As Graham Teskey pointed out in his January 2022 reflection piece on Thinking and Working Politically: What have we learned since 2013?, the donor environment for adaptive programming has changed in recent years, and not for the better. Last month on fp2p’s blog, Duncan Green also expressed second thoughts about adaptive management; while in another post, 100 civil society organisations working with the Asia Foundation in 70 countries also revealed some concerns about what they think of adaptive management. The Christian Aid paper presents a far more positive view, as Duncan Green himself has acknowledged. The report found that:
“72% of partners surveyed described adaptive programming as the most useful approach to programme management that they have used.”
The report reveals that Christian Aid Ireland’s application of adaptive programming has supported more flexible delivery, which has in turn contributed to better development outcomes. There are good examples of what this looked like in Sierra Leone, El Salvador, and Angola, and Zimbabwe. In Sierra Leone, for instance, several iterations of strategy testing revealed failures in traditional conflict resolution methods by chiefs. After experimenting with a few different things, forming a cattle settlement committee and enacting a local byelaw to regulate land use eventually contributed to conflict reduction, peaceful cohabitation between groups, and even scaling up the byelaw at district level.
Christian Aid’s report suggests that there may be more hope for adaptive management in the emerald isle (Ireland) than in Australia or the UK. As one Irish donor representative put it:
The narrative for adaptive management has been won, but the political space is still very much contested. The space for adaptive approaches is shrinking just when we need them more. If we are going to do adaptive management in a more substantial way, we need to invest in improved systems, culture, and guidance. We need to hear the evidence to justify those investments.
So, it seems that we need a thinking and working politically approach to further build the case for adaptive management for donors who have yet to be convinced. Beyond this, Gray and Carl point to nine factors that determine the effectiveness and impact of using an adaptive approach. These include: 1) leadership; 2) organisational culture; 3) conceptual understanding; 4) staff capacities; 5) partnership approaches; 6) participation; 7) methods and tools; 8) administrative procedures; and 9) the operating context. These should not come as a great surprise -- but it is nevertheless highly valuable to have them detailed in the report.
Many of these factors are also internal to organisations themselves. Perhaps the most important is organisational culture. As they say, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Or in the words of a staff member from Sierra Leone, “unless the right culture is there, none of our tools or approaches would work.” As Gray and Carl found, if organisational culture values political analysis, engages deliberately to influence the political context, and adjusts strategies accordingly, then there can be real benefits.
Christian Aid Ireland has taken a reflective approach to this for some time. I can recall a paper from 2018 on Learning to Make a Difference which analysed some of the growing pains of Christian Aid Ireland’s adaptive management efforts. It’s a good sign that senior staffers co-authored that paper, and the self-critical tone in the new paper seems to be the fruit of thoughtful reflection in Dublin.
Beyond the convincing examples of adaptive management working in practice, and the nine enabling factors, the report also highlights some practical insights on specific methods and tools that are well worth checking out. So, take a look and happy reading!
Academic Books, Journals and Articles:
Blattman, C. (2022). Why we fight: the roots of war and the paths to peace. New York: Viking.
In this book, Blattman emphasises that ‘humans prefer to loathe in peace’, and that because it is better to bargain than to fight, conflict (rarely) evolves into full-on war. Blattman argues that there are 5 key reasons why war breaks out: 1) ideological objectives; 2) intangible incentives; 3) by mistake; 4) uncertainty; and 5) commitment problems. Blattman then outlines a political economy toolkit to deepen understanding of the incentives and power dynamics that lead to war. The framework he develops helps to diagnose the causes of war in a more fine-grained manner, and has important implications for designing and implementing more customised peace processes.
Dercon, S. (2022). Gambling on Development: Why some countries win and others lose. London: Hurst Publishers.
This book seeks to understand why some countries have made substantial progress in promoting development and reducing poverty, while others have not, even if they have had similar starting points. Echoing an argument that will sound familiar to many TWPers and resonates with a lot of research in the filed, Dercon posits that growth and development result from a ‘development bargain’: an elite bargain that involves a shared commitment to growth and development. Such bargains involve elites who are committed to peace and stability, and development more broadly, and minimally capable and accountable states that can course-correct, adapt and learn. Dercon argues that outside actors can help nudge incentives towards growth or development (for example by fighting illicit finance), but that this requires a deep understanding of the political context. See also Dercon’s blogpost ‘Political Gambles on Development’ in From Poverty to Power (FP2P).
Holland, A., & Hummel, C. (Eds.). (2022). ‘The Politics of Informal Work’. Latin American Politics and Society, vol. 64, Special Issue 2.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the divide in working conditions across Latin America. Many governments have struggled to provide social assistance and employment relief to workers and businesses without formal documents. The pandemic response brought to the fore old questions: Who is informal and for what purposes? How do informal workers make claims on the state? And what explains the enduring divides in Latin American labor markets? This special issue seeks to address these questions.
Jebril M., & Deakin, S. (2022). ‘The political economy of health in the Gaza strip: Reversing de-development’. Journal of Global Health, vol. 12.
This article assesses political economy factors that have led to ‘de-development’ of the health sector in Gaza. It also outlines practical steps that can be taken to reverse this.
Kelsall, T., Schulz, N., Ferguson, W., Vom Hau, M., Hickey, S., & Levy, B. (2022). Political Settlements and Development - Theory, Evidence, Implications. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
This book has three main aims: 1) it argues for a revised definition of a political settlement - one that can unify its diverse strands and open new opportunities for the analysis of conflict and development; 2) it puts the concept of ‘political settlements’ on a more solid theoretical and scientific footing, providing a method for measuring and categorising political settlements, while using new data to analyse the relationship between political settlements and development; and 3) examines the implications for policymakers.
Mhazo, A., & Maponga, C. (2022). ‘The political economy of health financing reforms in Zimbabwe: a scoping review’. International Journal for Equity in Health, vol. 42.
Implementation of health financing reforms for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is inherently political. Despite the political determinants of UHC, health financing reform in Zimbabwe is often portrayed as a technical exercise with a familiar path of a thorough diagnosis of technical gaps followed by detailed prescriptions of reform priorities. This study seeks to understand the interaction between political and economic aspects of health financing reforms since the country got its independence in 1980. The authors find that ideas, institutions and interests significantly influence health financing reforms in Zimbabwe with implications on health system performance.
Reports, Briefs, and Working Papers:
Bahiss, I., Jackson, A., Mayhew, A., & Weigand, F. (2022). ‘Rethinking armed group control; towards a new conceptual framework’. Centre for the Study of Armed Groups Working Paper. London: ODI.
Arguing that the assumption of state dominance often obscures power dynamics, this Working Paper explores how armed groups seek to influence and control people and their behaviour, how they project power beyond areas where they are physically present, and how they seek to exert influence. The authors thus argue that there is an urgent need to rethink how armed groups exert power in territories they control. The paper develops a framework to better understand the interrelated dimensions of control, including spheres of control, practices of control and capacities for control. The authors suggest that this framework can be used as a tool to develop and prioritise context-specific indicators for conflict early warning, and they offer practical steps for doing so.
Brown, F. (2022). ‘Governance for Resilience: How can states prepare for the net crisis?’. Working Paper. Washington DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
This paper addresses the question, ‘what does the concept of “good governance” for resilience entail in practice?'. Reinforcing findings and research that have emerged in this field over the years, Brown argues that governance is complex and often multidirectional. As she puts it, ‘[s]everal characteristics, such as decentralisation, have an ambiguous effect on [governance for] resilience: they enable a country to withstand some setbacks but leave it more vulnerable in other ways. Other characteristics—including whether a country is democratic or authoritarian—do not appear have a clear-cut effect on resilience. In contrast, a few governance “super-factors”—such as control of corruption, societal trust, and high quality political leadership—are exceptionally powerful in enabling a country to augment its resilience through multiple pathways’.
Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. (2022). ‘The UK Government’s Strategy for International Development’. London: FCDO.
This new strategy outlines the FCDO’s more consciously geopolitical approach to international development aligned with UK (domestic) interests and priorities. It outlines four priorities: 1) to deliver honest and reliable investment; 2) to provide women and girls with the freedom they need to succeed; 3) to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance; and 4) to take forward the work on climate change, nature and global health.
Kaaba, O., & Hinfelaar, M. (2022). ‘Zambia’s anti-corruption regime 2001-2021 in the renewable energy sector. A legal and political economy analysis’. Bergen: CHR. Michelsen Institute.
In the Zambian context anti-corruption initiatives depend upon the political will and disposition of the president. For an anti-corruption order to be established, especially in the renewable energy sector, structural reforms are needed. The reforms recommended here include reducing the executive powers of the president, debarring corrupt renewable energy companies, enhancing the role of international organisations, and promoting investigative journalism to track and expose corruption in the energy sector.
Marquette, M. (2022). ‘Moving “from political won’t to political will” for more feasible interventions to tackle serious organised crime and corruption’. SOC ACE Research Programme. Birmingham: University of Birmingham.
This briefing note looks at the links between (lack of) political will and serious organised crime (SOC) and corruption. It suggests a new way to better understand political will and why a ‘lack of political will’ may appear to exist, to help those tasked with tackling SOC and corruption to develop strategies and interventions that are more politically and technically feasible . This note suggests an approach that individuals and teams can use in their day-to-day work to enable new ways of thinking that can help ‘unlock’ political will for reforms.
Niño-Zarazúa, M., Horigoshi, A., & Gisselquist, R. (2022). ‘Aid’s Impact on Democracy’. UNU-WIDER Working Paper. UNU-WIDER.
This paper investigates the impact of foreign aid on democratic outcomes using a panel of countries for the period between 1995 and 2018. The analysis distinguishes between developmental aid and democracy aid, and examines democracy aid to specific sectors, in order to explore variation across different aid types. Overall, the research offers comprehensive evidence pointing to a positive if modest impact on democratic outcomes. The analysis suggests this effect is more significant for democracy aid than developmental aid, but finds no evidence of negative impact for either.
Partners in Development Service. (2022). ‘Citizens’ Perceptions of Democratic Participation in Sudan’. Stockholm: International IDEA.
This report explores the challenges facing the democratic transformation in Sudan, looking closely at the power-sharing intricacies that had been in place between the civilians and military. The report analyses the motivations for and barriers to democratic participation among the Sudanese population, and seeks to generate a baseline to guide the design of further civic education interventions in Sudan.
Sanga, K., Johansson-Fua, S., Reynolds, M., Fa-Avae, D., Robyns, R., & Jim, D. (2022). ‘Contextualising leadership: Looking for leadership in the everyday’. Development Leadership Program (DLP).
This paper asks key questions of leadership in context: what it is, what kinds of contextual evidence is appropriate for leadership claims, and where to look for evidence of leadership. These questions are important in understading complex development problems, and in identifying ways of addressing them that are practical, appropriate and sustainable.
Sparkes, S., Campos Rivera, P.A., Jang, H., Marten, R., Rajan, D., Robb, A., & Cyrus Shroff, Z. (2022). ‘Normalizing the political economy of improving health’. Bulletin of the World Health Organisation.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated, policies that impact health and well-being are not only influenced by scientific evidence, but also by the political views and underlying values of policy-makers and societies. This article highlights the value of political economy analysis in technical programmes of work to improve health and well-being.
Taylor, P., & Tremblay, C. (2022). ‘Decolonising Knowledge for Development in the COVID-19 Era’. IDS Working Paper 566. Sussex: Institute of Development Studies (IDS).
This working paper brings together key themes, tensions, and insights on the decolonisation of knowledge for development in the context of Covid-19. It also offers some potential ways forward for individuals and organisations to transform current knowledge inequities and power asymmetries. These pathways, along other recommendations, call for the inclusion of those whose challenges are being addressed, reflective spaces for inclusive processes, and the importance of connection and sharing in building trust.
Zinnbauer, D. (2022). ‘Corporate Political Responsibility; Mobilizing the Private Sector for Political Integrity’. Stockholm: International IDEA.
This discussion paper presents an overview of a new ecosystem for corporate political responsibility. It identifies the dynamics that drive its evolution, describes its main building blocks and discusses its limitations. It also lays out several suggestions for policymakers and practitioners for how such an accountability regime can be used to support political integrity and how it can be interlinked with conventional money-in-politics regulations for for greater effectiveness.
Blogs, podcasts, and other opinion pieces:
Anderson, C. (2022). ‘The messy realities of everyday governance: six dilemmas for development practice’. Institute of Development Studies (IDS). 17 February 2022.
This blog post highlights six core dilemmas which emerged in the Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) programme’s research on governance in conflict affected countries: Should those interested in reform work with the grain, or challenge it? What does the complexity of governance actors and systems mean for where efforts should be focused? How can the risks around engaging in politics be assessed? What does this mean for working at scale? Responding to these dilemmas is in itself a complex challenge.
Aston, T. (2022). ‘What, so what, now what? Getting serious about systems change’. Medium. 18 March 2022.
This post gets into the nitty gritty of what is needed for effective systems change. It argues that development actors get stuck at the ‘what’ i.e. doing PEA, but they need more focus on the ‘how’ and ‘why’ to understand systems change. Then they can move to the ‘so what’ - why would they think or approach a problem differently with this newfound understanding from data and analysis. Then finally, they can think about the ‘now what’ - what actions make sense in this context.
Baguios, A., King, M., Martins, A., & Pinnington, R. (2022). ‘Are we there yet? Five key insights on localisation as a journey towards locally-led practice’. From Poverty to Power (FP2P). 31 March 2022.
This blog post summarises 5 key takeaways from a recent report for ODI which highlights positive examples of localisation and locally led practice, while unpacking the barriers and power imbalances that have stalled progress.
Banik, D., & Khan, M. (2022). ‘Corruption and political settlements - Mushtaq Khan’. In pursuit of development. 10 March 2022.
In this podcast Dan Banik speaks with Mushtaq Khan on whether definitions of corruption matter, the relationship between corruption and economic performance, and the impact of efforts to combat corruption in Bangladesh.
Berman, T. (2022). ‘Ukraine shows democracy must be seen as a strategic asset’. Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy. 22 April 2022.
In this blog post Berman argues that democracy must be promoted as a strategic asset globally, and that a radical review of priorities is needed. It points the reader to the 10 recommendations for European response to the attack on Ukraine and democracy from NIMD.
Foreign Policy. (2022). ‘Global Change Requires Local Leadership’. Foreign Policy.
This blog post highlights some innovative examples of locally-led development implemented by Chemonics in South Africa, Syria, Ghana and the Philippines.
Denney, L. (2022). ‘Localisation: an opportunity for thinking and working politically to deliver?’. From Poverty to Power (FP2P). 13 April 2022.
This post summarises a recent event the TWP CoP held on localisation and TWP, and draws out some of the hard lessons and implications going forward. It argues that TWP can be used to connect the individual, organisational, and systemic levels to push forward locally led development - ‘how issues of personal power and privilege, organisational practices and the development system all shape each other in interactive ways that require thinking and working politically to unpack and transform both how development is done, and what development is’.
Gibert, A. (2022). ‘How to support reformist leadership without falling into unhelpful traps: Three suggestions for external aid programs’. Development Leadership Program (DLP). 11 April 2022.
This blog post highlights examples of development practice using alternative strategies to support reformist leadership that contests the hidden networks of negative power and incentives to reach national development goals.
Green, D. (2022). ‘How do NGO staff and partners experience Adaptive Programming? Some impressive (and positive) new research’. From Poverty to Power (FP2P). 27 April 2022.
Following Duncan’s pessimistic outlook on adaptive management (see below), in this post he positively reviews a new study by Christian Aid Ireland, which provides a more encouraging picture of the use and relevance of adaptive programming. For a fuller review, see the ‘what we’re reading’ section below!
Green, D. (2022). ‘Second (and third) thoughts on adaptive management and thinking and working politically’. From Poverty to Power (FP2P). 6 April 2022.
Looking at power, systems, fragility, and historical context, Duncan suggests that adaptive management and TWP might be heading into a ‘trough of disillusionment’, raising important questions for the TWP community.
Green, D. (2022). ‘Theories of Change, the muddy middle, and what to do about assumptions’. From Poverty to Power (FP2P). 10 May 2022.
In this post, Duncan pulls together his thoughts on Theories of Change, and what they should do: 1) Provide a compass not a map, 2) aim for best guess and not best practice, 3) ask the right questions, not prescribe the answers, 4) be based on local knowledge, not imported models (unless adapted), and 5) be iterative.
Grossmann, J., Baez Camargo, C., Kass, S., Torres B., & Shaw, J. (2022). ‘Using political economy analysis to support corruption risk assessments that strengthen law enforcement against wildlife crime’. Targeting Natural Resource Corruption (TNRC) Blog. World Wildlife Fund. April 2022.
This blog post captures expert insights and responses to practitioner questions raised in a TNRC Learning Series webinar on using PEA to support corruption risk assessments that strengthen law enforcement against wildlife crime, hosted by the Basel Institute on Governance. This webinar, held on 12 April 2022, addressed three learning questions: (1) How does a political economy analysis (PEA) inform assessments of corruption risk in the investigation and prosecution of wildlife crimes? What can be learned from a PEA that other types of risk assessment might miss?; (2) How should findings from PEA inform the design or adaptation of corruption risk mitigation measures to improve conservation outcomes?; and (3) What practical guidance should be followed when implementing PEA in contexts in which corruption is widespread and highly politicized?
Hudson, A. (2022). ‘Localisations, power, stories, and change (Adaptive and Open Reads)’. Global Integrity. 4 May 2022.
This blog summarises a series of publications on localisation and the value of politically informed, locally-led, adaptive responses, including Lisa Denney’s piece on localisation and TWP, and Graham Teskey and Priya Chattier’s piece on ‘localisation; what could it mean for contractors?’.
Levy, B. (2022). ‘How Inequality and Polarization Interact: America’s Challenges Through a South African Lens’. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 27 April 2022.
Both South Africa and the United States wrestle with severe inequality, polarisation, and the corrosion of democratic institutions. This blog argues that South Africa’s experiences provide important lessons for the United States’ own governance challenges. It illustrates how interactions between inclusion and inequality on the one hand and political ideas and entrepreneurship on the other can fuel positive spirals of hope, economic dynamism, and political legitimacy—but can also trigger vicious, downward spirals of disillusion, anger, and political polarisation.
Nixon, N., McQuay, K., Yates, P., Saluja, S., Lae Yi, S. (2022). ‘What does Civil Society think of Adaptive Management? Not that much, it turns out’. From Poverty to Power (FP2P). 7 April 2022.
This post summarises research undertaken by The Asia Society on the perceptions and experiences of civil society organisation with adaptive management. Overall, these organisations seem to be sceptical. The see adaptive management as 1) largely driven by the development elite, 2) still more theory than practice, 3) alienating in terms of language, and 4) limited in terms of what can be adapted based on what donors will provide space for. CSOs also expressed that governments are getting in the way. On a slightly more positive note, the blog stresses enthusiasm for how to do adaptive management better.
Rocha Menocal, A., & Sharp, S. (2022). ‘Politically smart support to democracy: staying the course in the long road’. ODI. 10 May 2022.
What does smarter international support to revitalise democracy look like? Drawing on innovative examples of democracy support in a recent ODI-TWP webinar, this blog argues that politically smart democracy support 1) ‘starts with a sound understanding of why things work the way they do, and uses this to identify spaces with potential for democratic progress’, 2) ‘works through local reform champions who are the drivers of change’, and 3) ‘is anchored in relationships built on trust across stakeholders at different levels’.
Sasaki, D., Gassama, D., Ngom, O., & Hovig, D. (2022). ‘Introducing our new Inclusive Governance Strategy’. William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. 26 April 2022.
Based on a thorough evaluation of the programme that preceded it, this new governance strategy focuses on overcoming elite capture of public resources and promoting the efforts of under-served populations to exercise power to make governments more responsive to their needs. It places great emphasis on monitoring, evaluation, accountability, cross-country learning, and sharing evidence and insights. This article offers an overview of these strategic priorities and theory of change.
Williams, J. (2022). ‘How to find out if your intervention supports developmental leadership or undermines it’. Developmental Leadership Program (DLP). 24 May 2022.
This blog post addresses the question: how can we know the kinds of consequences that development interventions are having on power relations? The research sets out a framework to track these effects and uses this to explore how a rural development intervention impacted on power relations in a single district in Ethiopia. The framework considers four aspects of how interventions intertwine with power relations at the local level - resource distribution, social status, political ideas, and afterlife i.e. what happened to all these things at the end of the intervention.
March 30, ‘Engaging with politics; towards smarter international support to revitalise democracy’, TWP CoP and ODI.
April 6, ‘The 14th Geneva Summit: Photos, Videos, and Testimony’, Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy.
April 26, ‘Disinformation and its Impact on Democratic Processes’, International IDEA.
April 28, ‘A discussion on the form and function of partner-led PEA at USAID’, Washington DC TWP CoP and Chemonics. Please see accompanying slides, and key notes and take-aways.
May 4, Book talk: ‘Why do some countries gamble on development, and others don’t?’ with Stefan Dercon, David Pilling, Melinda Bohannon & Ricardo Soares de Oliveira, Oxford Martin School
May 11, ‘Data-led Learning and Innovation in Adaptive Programming’, MUVA, Oxford Policy Management.
May 19, ‘Today’s fight for Open Society’, LSE.
Monday 30 May- Friday 3r June: gLOCAL Evaluation Week, Global Evaluation Initiative.
Tuesday 31 May: ‘The UNDP Oslo Governance Centre Conference 2022. Power, politics and Peace; are we facing an emerging global crisis of governance?’, UNDP. TWP CoP Director Alina Rocha Menocal will be one of the speakers in the last panel on accountable and effective governance.
Wednesday 1 June: ‘Pathways to empowerment: where theory meets practice’, Oxford Policy Management MUVA programme.
Wednesday 1 June: ‘Implementing learning in an adaptive program: lessons learnt from practice’, Resource and Support Hub.
Thursday 9 June: ‘The Future of the Liberal World Order’, with Prof. John Ikenberry, Prof. Mary Kaldor, Prof Charles Kupchan, and Prof. Ayse Zarakol, LSE.
Wednesday 15 June: ‘Smarter Design of Land Administration Reform’, Land Equity International.
Wednesday 15th - Friday 17th June: ‘OECD Local Development Forum; Better Strategies for Stronger Communities’, OECD.
Training, Learning Opportunities and other Resources
The Serious Organised Crime & Anti-Corruption Evidence (SOC ACE) research programme aims to help unlock the black box of political will for tackling organised crime, transnational corruption, kleptocracy and illicit finance through research that informs politically feasible, technically sound interventions and strategies. The programme has recently published 28 papers on these topics, with more coming soon.
The USAID Health Systems Strengthening (HSS) Practice Spotlight Series is an an initiative of USAID’s Office of Health Systems. Practice Spotlight briefs discuss specific health systems strengthening approaches and how they were successfully applied in USAID-supported or other HSS program settings. By documenting approaches that work, Practice Spotlight briefs can inform strategic planning, program design, and implementation in the HSS space. The briefs support USAID’s Vision for Health System Strengthening 2030 and the accompanying Health System Strengthening Learning Agenda.
Arbie Baguios is a researcher and the founder of Aid Re-imagines, an initiative that advocates for a more effective and just aid system. He has written a series of articles on ‘Localisation re-imagined’ for ALNAP, each of which explores a different dichotomy in the localisation debate. Articles include; ‘Localising the sector vs supporting local solutions’, ‘Fertilising the soil of state-led solutions’, ‘Regenerating the polyculture of humanitarianism’, ‘Three dimensions of localisation’, and ‘The three types of localisation’.
Furthermore, Save the Children has curated an extensive collection of research and evidence on localisation.
The FSN Network has put together an online, self-paced ‘Introduction to Scenario Planning Course’, which provides practical tools for why and how to conduct scenario planning - a central component of effective adaptive management. It is a practical, strategic, and intentional activity that helps teams and organizations to:
Anticipate, plan, and be prepared for changes
Respond effectively to changes in operating contexts
Build a team culture that values continuous learning and adaptation
UNICEF have a free online course titled ‘An Introduction to Thinking and Working Politically’ which explores how decision making can be more politically responsive, including an overview of political economy analysis tools.
The Policy Practice together with ODI will run a Political Economy Analysis in action online training course, which covers adaptive management and other ways to ‘think and work politically’. The next course starts in September 2022 and comprises of 10 online sessions. There is a discount for those who apply in groups or before the end of June.
DevLearn runs an interactive and participatory course on ‘Results Management’, which takes 4 days to complete over one month. During the course you will learn 1) how to build a practical, adaptive results measurement system, 2) understand how to select from different research techniques to measure these indicators, and attribute results to the programme, 3) develop a theory of change showing the logic of an intervention, explore the assumptions that you make in intervention design, and articulate indicators based on the results chain. The next course will run in October 2022 - you can fill our this form to be put on the waiting list.
The Institute of Development Studies runs a five day professional development course on ‘Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation for Learning’, which aims to equip development planners and practitioners with the knowledge and skills to more effectively design and improve M&E systems and move towards a participatory and adaptive practice within projects, programmes and their organisations. The next course runs from 5th-9th September 2022.