TWP CoP January 2022 Newsletter
Happy New Year - and welcome to our January 2022 newsletter! We bring you the latest news and updates on all things TWP - discover more below.
Dear Friends and fellow travellers on all things TWP,
In this edition, we are delighted to share exciting news and updates about what the TWP CoP has been up to, including the launch of the TWP 2022 Global Webinar Series, Graham Teskey’s new paper on ‘TWP: what have we learned since 2013?’, and a refreshed TWP CoP website! Please read our highlight feature to find out more.
The newsletter also highlights publications, events, and other resources of interest from a TWP perspective, while Katherine Hellier tells us about what she has been reading.
As always, we very much welcome your inputs and ideas, and we particularly look forward to hearing from those who may be relatively new to TWP. If there is anything you would like to share with us, including items for future newsletters, please get in touch by email at: email@example.com.
And please share this newsletter with others who might be interested too, and don’t forget to click the subscribe button (above) if you haven’t subscribed already!
Lastly, we encourage you to open the newsletter directly on your browser by clicking on the ‘TWP CoP January Newsletter’ header, at the top of this page. That will enable you to get full access to all the content.
With all best wishes,
Alina & Graham
What the TWP CoP Secretariat has been up to
Refreshed TWP Website
We have been busy over the last few months and have exciting updates to share with you all. Firstly, we have updated the TWP website. Take a look here!
We hope the refresh makes it easier to learn more about the activities of the TWP community, and find out about useful resources including TWP CoP publications, events, and our newsletter. If you have any thoughts or additional suggestions, please email us.
Global Webinar Series
To kick off 2022, the TWP CoP is also convening a Global Webinar Series on debates at the cutting edge of development policy and practice. Working in collaboration with TWP friends and partners, we hope the series will provide a space to discuss crucial issues ranging from health to localisation to democracy support to lessons that have emerged from the TWP journey over the past decade, and reflect more deeply on the opportunities and challenges ahead.
Thursday 17th February 2022, 14:00- 15:30pm (GMT): Thinking Politically about Health Systems Resilience in the Context of COVID-19
COVID-19 has tested the resilience of health systems and their ability to prepare for and respond to crises, including pandemics, natural disasters, conflicts, and economic shocks. Some systems have performed more effectively than others. Some of these differences reflect epidemiological factors, but a large part of the explanation relates to the political and institutional factors shaping health systems. Much can be learned from these contrasting experiences about how more resilient health systems can be supported.
This is a large research area, where evidence is incomplete and still emerging. Focusing on the experiences of several countries (provisionally Cameroon, Nepal, South Africa and Uganda), this webinar, organised by the TWP CoP in collaboration with The Policy Practice and DAI, will examine how domestic political processes have affected the resilience of health systems and explore how the governance issues shaping the international response to COVID-19 have helped or hindered country level efforts to build resilient and effective health systems. This discussion will highlight which factors have mattered most and will help to set the agenda for future research in this area, including in the run-up to the 7th Global Symposium on Health Systems Research (HSR 2022), whose theme this year is ‘health systems performance in the political agenda.’
Please register here for this fascinating conversation and share with your networks!
We also have plans for three further events as part of the series, including:
Revitalising democracy: towards smarter international support to democracy
Localising TWP: what does this mean in practice, and what can a TWP lens contribute to emerging challenges and dilemmas?
Thinking and Working Politically: what have we learned since 2013?
Please head over to our Global Webinar Series webpage for more information. We will send an email in due course with further details and how to sign up!
Last but not least, we are thrilled to announce the publication of Graham Teskey’s think piece; ‘Thinking and Working Politically; What have we learned since 2013?’. In this think piece, Graham traces the evolution of the idea and practice of TWP since 2013, and identifies the key lessons that emerge for him from this journey. He assesses what has been achieved operationally, asking among other things how ideas underpinning TWP have affected operational practice, what has gotten greater traction, what less, and why, and where we may be heading next with TWP. Please click here to read Graham’s piece.
In this edition, we have decided to organise publications by type to make the list easier to navigate. Let us know if that is the case!
Academic books, journals and articles:
Abel Polese, Informality, Labour Mobility and Precariousness, Palgrave Macmillan, January 2022
This book explores the changing relationship between a state and its people and the meaning of non-compliance with state rules. It looks at the role of informality across grass-root actors as well as top political and business ones, and covers a range of regions. Of particular interest from a TWP perspective are the chapters; ‘Political vs. Everyday Forms of Governance in Uzbekistan: the illegal, immoral and illegitimate’, and ‘Institutions and the Informal Economy: Tax Morale of Small Businesses in Armenia and Georgia’.
Ali Ahmed, Neil McCulloch, Muzna Al-Masri, Marc Ayoub, ‘From dysfunctional to functional corruption: the politics of decentralised electricity provision in Lebanon’, Energy Research and Social Science, Vol. 86, April 2022
This article explores the service provision model of Electricité du Zahle (EDZ), a decentralized local utility in Lebanon. It argues that although EDZ has succeeded in improving the service experienced by its customers, its approach has not reduced corruption. However, despite its deviation from the “standard” model of power sector reform, the EDZ model has achieved a notable developmental outcome in a way that is consistent with the complex political settlement of the country.
Sara Hellmuller, ‘A trans-scalar approach to peacebuilding and transitional justice: Insights from the Democratic Republic of Congo’, Cooperation and Conflict, pp.1-18, December 2021
Peace research has taken a local turn. Yet, conceptual ambiguities, risks of romanticisation, and critiques of co-option of the “local” point to the need to look for novel ways to think about the interactions of actors ranging from the global to the local. This article analyses the concept of trans-scalar approaches to peace in DRC and gives novel insights on the ‘local turn’ debate, transitional justice in the DRC, and peacebuilding.
Sohela Nazeen and Awino Okech (eds), Feminist protests and politics in a world in crisis, Special Double Issue, Gender and Development, Vol. 29, Issue 2-3, December 2021
This is a special double issue examining the rapidly evolving terrain of gender justice and feminist organising, where the new energies within feminism are located, and potential ways forward for building a feminist future. The introduction focusses on how feminism has moved more into protest mode and built broader alliances, intergenerational tensions within feminism, women’s leadership, and how change happens.
Reports, Briefs, and Working Papers:
Annika Silva-Leander, Elisenda Balleste Buxo, Alberto Fernandez Gibaja, Alexander Hudson, Miguel Angel Lara Otaola and Seema Shah, The Global State of Democracy 2021; Building Resilience in a Pandemic Era, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), December 2021
This International IDEA flagship report analyses the current state of democracy around the world. The report argues that the world is becoming more authoritarian. It highlights an increasing trend towards ‘democratic erosion’ (decline in democratic quality), including in established democracies, and notes that, for the fifth consecutive year, the number of countries moving in an authoritarian direction exceeds the number of countries moving in a democratic direction. The report also offers lessons and recommendations for governments, political and civic actors, and international democracy assistance providers to counter this trend and foster more resilient democracies more effectively.
Anuradha Joshi, ‘The Use of ‘Causal Chain’ Analysis in Strengthening Public Accountability’, Accountability Research Center, July 2021
In this article, Joshi argues that a causal chain approach to understanding efforts to strengthen transparency, accountability and participation leads to greater realism about the politics of these processes. This approach runs counter to the standard development thinking based in log-frames and results and means embracing ambiguity and uncertainty.
Florencia Guerzovich, Soledad Gattoni, and Dave Algoso, ‘Putting Anti-corruption Reformers' Needs Back in the Center of International Support: Windows of Opportunity, Politics and the Extractive Sector’, Colombia Center on Sustainable Investment, December 2021
This piece stems from research on the political obstacles to governance reform in the oil, gas and mining sectors. The piece teases out some of the key findings and insights that emerged from the research, including: putting reformers at the centre of internationally-supported initiatives for change; looking for reformers with local relationships, rather than specific character traits; and looking beyond the triggers to micro-windows, having recognition of the complexity of governance reform/being strategic about what can be achieved, and risk calculation.
Heather Hurlburt and Alexandra Stark, ‘Global Cities as Reservoirs of Democracy’, Policy Brief, New America, November 2021
This brief highlights the central role that cities can play in sustaining democratic values and practices; the common challenges city leaders face; and what support they need to push back against democratic backsliding.
Lucas Chancel, Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman, World Inequity Report 2022, World Inequity Lab, December 2021
This Flagship Report presents the most up-to-date synthesis of international research efforts to track various facets of inequality worldwide : global wealth, income, gender and ecological inequality. The Report argues that, after three decades of trade and financial globalisation, inequalities along multiple dimensions remain extremely pronounced, while the Covid pandemic has exacerbated them further. It highlights the crucial role that the state can play in tackling poverty, while arguing that “inequality is always political choice”.
Matt Andrews, ‘Getting Real about Unknowns in Complex Policy Work’, RISE Working Paper 21/083. RISE Programme, November 2021
Through a novel strategy that asks how much one knows about the answers to 25 essential policy questions, and an application to recent education policy interventions in Mozambique, this paper shows how recognizing that unknowns exist—and understanding why they do and what kind of challenge they pose to policy workers—can help promote a more modest and realistic approach to doing complex policy work.
Michaela Collord, Tom Goodfellow, Lewis Abedi Asante, ‘Uneven development, politics and governance in urban Africa: An analytical literature review’, Working Paper 2. African Cities Research Consortium, November 2021
This Working Paper explores the political economy of urban African development. It considers the economic and demographic drivers of urbanisation in Africa and their consequences, and the urban politics that have emerged alongside to shape developments. This includes the politics of urban clientelism, collective action and street politics, the urban dimensions of electoral and party politics, the urban politics of war and conflict and, finally, the politics of urban governance and service delivery.
Neil McCulloch, ‘Tackling Lebanon's Electricity Crisis: Lessons from Yemen’, Briefing Paper, ACE SOAS Consortium, November 2021
This Briefing Paper summarises key insights emerging from a webinar on ‘Models for tackling Lebanon’s electricity crisis’ convened by The Policy Practice and the SOAS Anti-Corruption Evidence Consortium (ACE) in February 2021. It argues that understanding the political economy of the context and recognising realities on the ground are both essential to drive progress, and that, whilst ‘second best’ solutions may be politically feasible, they can also be uncertain and come with real risks, so it is important to remain mindful of unintended consequences.
Rebecca Gordon and Victoria Hasson, Leadership for inclusion; what skills and qualities do parliamentarians need to be able to promote inclusive change?, Developmental Leadership Program and Westminster Foundation for Democracy, September 2021
This report, produced by DLP and WFD, identifies skills and qualities that parliamentarians need to support legislation and policies that address the needs of marginalised groups, and protects their rights and freedoms. These include collaboration, strategic thinking, nurturing relationships, learning, trust, creativity, and self-awareness and reflection.
Saskia Brechenmacher, Ruth-Marie Henckes, Elisa Lledó, Bolstering Women’s Political Power: Lessons from the EU’s gender action plan II, Carnegie Europe, December 2021
This report looks at the past five years of EU support for women’s political participation and addresses the following questions: To what extent have the EU and its member states prioritized women’s political empowerment relative to other gender-equality priorities, and what has their support been in practice? Have past EU efforts effectively tackled the primary barriers to women’s equal participation and influence, and how could the EU’s engagement be improved? The analysis draws on evidence from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Morocco, Sri Lanka and Zambia.
Blogs and other opinion pieces:
Alan Hudson, ‘Alan’s December explorations: Working towards stronger connections’, Global Integrity, December 2021
Alan gives a great review of his 5 ‘top reads’ for December, on themes of anti-corruption, strengthening accountability, and thinking and working politically in practice.
Alina Rocha Menocal, Tom Aston, ‘Working politically in practice: lessons from an innovative programme in Nigeria’, ODI, November 2021
This blog highlights a number of lessons on how to enable thinking and working politically emerging from the UK-funded Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL) in Nigeria.
Brendan Halloran, ‘Response, Responsiveness, and Accountability: Understanding Citizen-State Engagements’, Politics, Governance, and Development, November 2021
While a variety of actors in civil society are engaged in efforts to foster greater responsiveness and accountability from governments, it is not always clear how transformational and sustainable the changes they seek to bring about turn out to be. In this short note, Halloran discusses a framework that the International Budget Partnership developed in collaboration with the Institute of Development Studies and the Accountability Research Center to explore issues of response, responsiveness and accountability and help distinguish between temporary, one-off concessions from power holders and deeper shifts in power, incentives and institutions that are essential for longer-term systemic change.
Brendan Halloran, ‘Understanding, Navigating and Strengthening the Accountability Ecosystem: Emerging Lessons from a Learning Exchange’, Politics, Governance, and Development, November 2021
This post considers how to use the accountability ecosystem (understanding, navigating, and strengthening) to approach how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted work with citizens and reformers on accountability issues.
Duncan Green, ‘Links I Liked’, From Poverty to Power (FP2P), December 2021
Duncan gives a succinct overview of the best governance resources published in December.
Duncan Green, ‘What does Governance look like ‘from below’?: great methodology; snappy format; fascinating findings; exemplary writing’, From Poverty to Power (FP2P), January 2022
In this blog post, Duncan reviews the ‘Governance at the Margins’ project, which is part of the Action for Empowerment and Accountability research programme led by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS). He gives snippets of the key findings which are well worth a read.
Florencia Guerzovich, María Soledad Gattoni and Dave Algoso, ‘Politically Smart Support for Anti-Corruption Change Agents’, Medium, January 2022
This blog argues that ‘we can do better anti-corruption work today if we realize that we have much to gain by working politically with others’. It offers four suggestions for improving politically savvy support that can complement work on transnational kleptocracy.
Frances Brown, Zainab Usman, Erin Jones, Elisa Lledó, Maiko Ichihara, Oliver Stuenkel, Aqil Shah, Ashley Quarcoo, ‘Global Views of Biden’s Democracy Summit’, Carnegie Endowment, December 2021
In this piece, a variety of experts provide critical insights on the Democracy Summit convened by US President Joe Biden form different country and regional perspectives.
Harry Quilter-Pinner, ‘To win, progressives must tell more compelling stories and understand power’, openDemocracy, December 2021
Using the example of the LGBTQI+ rights movement in the UK from the 1950s onwards, this post argues that those interested in promoting progressive reform, from researchers to campaigners, politicians to protesters, need to go beyond being ‘right’ to being savvy in their efforts to influence society. According to the author, it is vital to focus on storytelling that taps into people’s values and emotions, while focusing on new ways to build and contest power.
Jennifer Brookland, Hiske Leegstra, ‘A year of impact in International Development’, RTI International, December 2021
This insight piece brings together a series of reflections from RTI experts on some of the most notable challenges in international development through 2021 and efforts, large and small, that the international community took to tackle them. The piece highlights several posts that are especially interesting from a TWP perspective, including among others ‘Preventing “Development in Reverse”: Building a Systemic anti-corruption approach’, and ‘Localizing Development: Evidence from Social Emotional Learning Assessments in Tanzania’.
Jesse Worker, ‘For better climate advocacy, political economy analysis can help’, World Resources Institute, December 2021
In the wake of COP26, this post highlights the importance of using political economy analysis to guide more effective climate advocacy to address the growing ‘credibility gap’, where governments pledge change but fail to enact reform.
Laure-Hélene Piron and Sam Waldock, ‘Getting into the Politics of why (some) Governance Programmes work’, From Poverty to Power (F2FP), November 2021
This blog reflects on some of the key, and at times counter-intuitive, lessons emerging from 20 years of UK funded efforts in Nigeria to promote governance reform and improve service delivery.
Nicola Nixon and Peter Yates, ‘What will Biden’s Summit mean for the Indo-Pacific? A practitioner perspective’, Development Intelligence Lab, December 2021
Following Biden’s Democracy Summit, this short piece addresses the question of ‘how [to] support democratic systems, institutions and practices in the Indo-Pacific region without compromising important relationships with government and non-government partners?’.
Robin Diver, Leadership Observatory Issue 18, Development Leadership Program, December 2021
In this December 2021 edition of the DLP’s Leadership Observatory, the author provides six takeaways on effective, collaborative, compassionate developmental leadership for policymakers, practitioners and researchers based on new evidence.
Sierd Hadley, Laure-Helene Piron, Gareth Williams and Clare Cummings, ‘PFM Reforms in Nigeria: Lessons from 20 years of UK Support’, Public Financial Management Blog, November 2021
This blog summarises research from PERL on what 20 years of UK governance support in Nigeria have achieved, how and why in terms of public financial management.
Thursday, 2nd December, 2021: Power shift: politics and the energy transition in emerging markets. This webinar, co-convened by The Policy Practice and Chemonics, brought together leading thinkers on the political economy of the energy transition to discuss the factors that slow down or might speed up the energy transition. The discussion concludes that thinking and working politically can help projects to support more effective transitions.
December 9th-10th 2021: The Biden Administration hosted the first of two Summit for Democracy, with the aim of revitalising and strengthening democracy around the world. The full agenda is available here. Leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector agreed to a Year of Action home and abroad to advance democratic reform and deepen the quality of democratic governance. For a thoughtful take on where next, watch this online event hosted by Carnegie Europe on 7th January 2020 on From Words to Action: Can the Summit for Democracy Deliver?
Friday, 3rd December 2021: Democracy Support in Hard Places: Can we do better? - this event, convened by Carnegie Endowment, analysed lessons on international democracy support in conflict-affected contexts and discussed how to formulate a new playbook to assist democracies in fragile settings.
Wednesday, 8th December 2021: Unlocking Corruption: Frontline Perspectives on Locally-Led Solutions - organised by Global Integrity and the Open Government Partnership, this event opened a conversation about countries’ policy journeys, the implementation and impact of policy commitments, the value of external assistance, and the role that Global Summits can play in advancing effective and locally-led approaches to tackling corruption.
Monday, 7th - Thursday 13th January 2022: USAID’s Anti-Corruption Evidence and Learning Week - convened by USAID’s Anti-Corruption Taskforce and the Center for Democracy, Human Rights and Governance this 4-day event, the first of its kind, explored data and evidence on anti-corruption challenges/ approaches, and exchanged practices for applying evidence and learning to address corruption across technical sectors from a politically informed perspective. A couple of TWP CoP Steering Committee members were involved; Heather Marquette talking about the value of evidence and learning in anti-corruption research and Alina Rocha Menocal on the need for a more nuanced approached to anti-corruption.
Tuesday, 1st February 2022, 6-7:30pm EST/ 11pm GMT/ 10am ACT (2nd February): Adaptive Programming at the Sub-National Level: Evidence from Papau New Guinea. This event, organised by the Center for Global Development, will focus on how donors can deploy ‘subnational’ approaches to programming to reach areas that are at the periphery of the state. This approach, which aligns with a growing global consensus around TWP, is not solely local or national, but seeks to work across all scales and complexity in between to understand the electoral dynamics, connections, networks and coalitions that operate between constituents, private sector and civil society and different levels of government.
Monday 7th March - Thursday 18th March 2022: The World Bank Fragility Forum - After being cancelled in March 2020 because of Covid, the WB Fragility Forum is back. The objective is to exchange innovative ideas and knowledge to improve development approaches in fragile, conflict and violence-affected settings to foster peace and stability. For more details, and to register, please click here. There should be several events and activities of interest to, and even organised by, TWPers, so watch this space.
Training, Learning Opportunities & Other Resources
Interested in the Political Economy of Land Governance? Land Equity is doing some fascinating work on this through the Mekong Land Region Governance Project, using a TWP lens to improve land tenure security for smallholder farmers in the Mekong Region. It is well worth taking a look at this brief on the ‘State of Land in the Mekong Region’ and delving into ‘The Political Economy of Land Governance in the Mekong Region’, which are particularly interesting from a TWP lens. For further insight on the PE of land governance, you may also be interested in the January 2022 special issue of the Journal of Agrarian Change, which focusses on ‘The Political Economy of Contract Farming; Emerging Insights and Changing Dynamics’.
After nearly a decade of research, the Effective States and Inclusive Research Centre came to a close in 2021. This project spanned 26 countries, deepening understanding of how politics in the developing world impacts policy and practice. Take a look at a summary of the project’s overarching findings on the ‘three C’s’ of inclusive development; context, capacity and coalitions, and have a browse of their library of working papers and publications. The recently launched African Cities Research Consortium (ACRC) (led by Prof. Diana Mitlin) builds on ESID’s research agenda to establish how political settlements impact upon cities and urban reform.
Monday, 21st February - Friday, 24th June: Political Economy Analysis in Action Training Course - offered by colleagues at The Policy Practice, this flagship course is designed to equip participants to identify the challenges arising from political economy features of the contexts in which they work, and to draw well-grounded conclusions for policy, strategy, or programme design and implementation.
Alan Hudson’s ‘#AdaptDev + #OpenGov Evernote Stash’ brings together an up to date and extensive reading list on open governance.
The Policy Practice has an Online Library that is regularly updated, sharing the latest key readings, research and case studies on political economy analysis and related subjects.
What we’re reading
This edition’s featured reader is Katherine Hellier, TWP CoP Project and Communications Officer. She reviews:
Joshua Craze, ‘Don’t apply here: why NGO hiring practices are sparking protests in South Sudan’, The New Humanitarian, December 2021
With the widespread recognition that development efforts cannot be copy and pasted from blueprints imported from the outside, calls to localise development have become louder and more intense, especially in the backdrop of the the COVID-19 pandemic. It is, for example, a central theme of the new vision for USAID as articulated by the Agency’s Administrator Samantha Power. A variety of other international development organisations are laying out similar ambitions to direct more funds to local partners and involve them more fully in setting priorities and co-designing programmes in an effort to make development more inclusive.
But development actors are having trouble getting into the nitty gritty of what localisation really means in practice and working through its potential implications. A TWP lens can be useful to unpack some of the possible challenges associated with localisation, especially in volatile contexts, and I found conflict researcher Joshua Craze’s recent article ‘Don’t apply here: why NGO hiring practices are sparking protests in South Sudan’ very thoughtful in this respect.
As Craze highlights, in South Sudan, ‘local’ hiring practices are sparking some tension. Job prospects for young people are bleak. Only half of young people have a job, and the vast majority of those are in the informal sector. The private sector has collapsed, and the government has ‘almost totally withdrawn from being a provider of wages’. It is little wonder then, that jobs in the humanitarian sector are ‘the locus for young people’s dreams’: they offer the promise of a regular salary, often paid in dollars, and act as a social security net for extended families. Craze gives a compelling example of how one young man’s job in an NGO helped feed and pay the medical bills for 20 members of his family. So, employment is seen as the main benefit of having aid groups operate locally.
The importance of aid agency wages has generated fierce job competition and friction, with local communities frustrated that jobs are given to people from regions far away. In recent months, this has ignited protests across South Sudan, some of which have been violent and even forced peacekeepers to intervene. The demands are clear; ‘that humanitarian agencies recruit staff from the local communities they work in’.
In response, agencies have begun advertising jobs locally – not simply at the national but rather the community level -- and adopting localisation as a human resources policy. Yet, this could also play into dangerous dynamics: deciding ‘who is local?’ means intervening in tough political issues that agencies usually steer clear from.
For example, in Malakal, at an UN-protected displacement camp, one young ethnic Lou Nuer man explained he was unable to find an aid agency job, ‘partly because locals tell him he is not from Upper Nile and should return to Jonglei, from where he fled clan violence’. Such inter-regional hostility towards non-local employees ‘mirrors the increasing ethnicization of politics throughout South Sudan and reflects the acute absence of a national compact’.
Craze does an excellent job of highlighting how these ‘local’ hiring practices are rooted in tensions which go beyond the recruitment of national staff. His analysis suggests that the push for localisation requires further scrutiny. So if development agencies really want to ‘localise’ aid, they must delve much more deeply into the realities of what localisation means in practice and the dilemmas it may entail.
If this is a topic you are interested in, stay tuned! As part of our global webinar series, the TWP CoP is convening a conversation on Thursday, 22nd March 2022 to ask hard questions around localisation and explore in greater depth the challenges, tensions, and dilemmas that this agenda may throw up. Please do join the discussion (keep an eye out on emails for a registration link!), and we would also love to hear your emerging thoughts and reflections on this!