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TWP CoP July 2022 Newsletter
Welcome to the July 2022 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,
It has been a busy couple of months for the TWP CoP. Among other things, in collaboration with The Policy Practice, we have published Gareth Williams’ reflection note on ‘Thinking and Working Politically on Health Systems Resilience: Learning from the experience of Cameroon, Nepal, and South Africa during COVID-19’, which built on our webinar from February this year. We also co-hosted a webinar in June with ECDPM on ‘Thinking and working politically about regional cooperation and integration’, with a reflection note to be published after the summer.
This edition of the newsletter features a podcast with Kerry Selvester from MUVA and Sam Sharp from ODI which explores lessons that have emerged from MUVA, an adaptive women’s economic empowerment programme in Mozambique. The newsletter also highlights recent publications, events, and other resources that are especially relevant from a TWP perspective. University of Birmingham’s Nic Cheeseman shares with us what he’s been reading, while TWP CoP’s own Katherine Hellier tells us what she has been tuning into.
In other news, we would also like to set up informal, bi-monthly drop-in sessions over Zoom where people can catch up, share ideas, connect and delve into pressing issues in the TWP agenda in a casual and friendly setting. With thanks to Sharon Van Pelt from Creative Associates and the Washington DC TWP CoP for this suggestion. We hope to launch the first session in September 2022, so stay tuned.
As a reminder, please open the newsletter directly on your browser (click on the ‘TWP CoP July Newsletter’ header, at the top of this page) so that you can get full access to all the content.
With all best wishes,
Alina & Graham
Podcast: Insights and lessons from MUVA, a women’s economic empowerment programme in Mozambique established with a specific mandate to test, learn and adapt. MUVA was originally funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and and it now has other donors as well.
With Kerry Selvester, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Coordinator for MUVA & Director of the Mozambican NGO ANSA, and Sam Sharp, Senior Research Officer in Politics and Governance at ODI.
For a more in-depth analysis of MUVA and how it works, please see Kerry and Sam’s recent report ‘Evidence-led programming: Lessons from MUVA’, co-authored with Nils Riemenschneider.
What we’re reading
Tim Kelsall, Nicolai Schulz, William D. Ferguson, Matthias vom Hau, Sam Hickey, and Brian Levy (2022) Political Settlements and Development: Theory, Evidence, Implications. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
By Nic Cheeseman, Professor of Democracy and Director of the Centre for Elections, Democracy, Accountability and Representation (CEDAR) at the University of Birmingham
The idea that political settlements are critical to explaining the potential for inclusive development has gained ground over the last 10 years. However, academic publications have lagged behind the policy buzz, and so a new comprehensive volume, Political Settlements and Development Theory, Evidence, Implications, is sure to be welcomed by researchers and policy makers alike. The book – which wonderfully is open access and so available to download for free, is the product of the combined efforts of some of the key thinkers in this area – Tim Kelsall, Nicolai Schulz, William D. Ferguson, Matthias Vom Hau, Sam Hickey, and Brian Levy. As one would expect, this leads to a set of valuable insights and helpful clarification.
Among the book’s major contributions are:
A history/genealogy of the political settlements approach (PSA), tracing the term from its early use by Khan as a synonym for “the balance of power between the classes and groups affected by that institution” through to the more complex frameworks that are in use today.
A clear statement of the problems with PSA, such as inconsistent use of key terms, lack of clarity over the definition and measurement of key variables, and questions over whether PSA can help us to understand change over time, and a serious attempt to respond to these points in a constructive way.
The development of the Political Settlements (PolSett) dataset, which covers 200 political economy variables coded for 42 countries in the Global South from 1946 or independence to 2018 by country experts, and enables the authors to undertake systematic empirical analysis.
A comparative analysis of Ghana, Guinea, Cambodia and Rwanda that provides rich country detail;
A powerful combination of case studies, comparative analysis, and large-n quantitative modelling; and,
A clear research agenda for future research.
Each of these contributions alone would make the book worth reading – taken together, they make Political Settlements and Development Theory essential reading and an authoritative intervention into the debate. Those who have never taken to political settlements may not be fully persuaded, but even the most sceptical reader will benefit from and admire the thoughtful and creative way in which the book unfolds – not to mention the sheer amount of effort involved in a project that covers so many theoretical and empirical bases.
What we’re tuning into
Smarter Design for Land Administration Reform, Land Equity International.
By Katherine Hellier, TWP CoP Project and Communications Officer
On June 15, Land Equity International (LEI) hosted a webinar on ‘Smarter Design of Land Administration’, which focussed on land administration reform through a thinking and working politically lens. The panel brought together a range of land governance specialists, including Tony Burns (Executive Director, LEI), Kate Rickersey (Managing Director, LEI), Jolyne Sanjak (Sector Director, Tetra Tech), Victoria Stanley (Senior Land Administration Specialist, World Bank), and Emmanuel Nkurunziza (Director General, RCMRD).
The event began with a broad overview of the experience and lessons of land administration reform over the past three decades, which have been overtly economic and technical in their approach. Tony Burns underscored the need to adopt an approach that is more politically smart. But for a few exceptions (see the Residential Free Patent Act in the Philippines in 2010 and the Mekong Region Land Governance Project for examples), Tony emphasised that the ‘messy politics’ are often underplayed or ignored, thus undermining the implementation and effectiveness of many land reforms.
Nevertheless, there are challenges in incorporating a TWP approach to the land sector. For example:
There is no concrete evidence that a TWP approach is significantly better than more traditional ones.
While there have been successes in adopting a TWP approach, none of these initiatives are implementing reform at scale.
The World Bank and bilateral funding agencies providing significant development assistance funding have established procedures and practices that are not always aligned with TWP principles.
The conversation then moved on to what was an incredibly rich and fruitful discussion on the practical implications for projects that adopt a TWP approach. Some particularly interesting points that arose for me include the following:
Firstly, it’s important not to get bogged down in the language – it doesn’t matter whether you call this TWP, PDIA, DDD, key actors mapping, etc… what is important is to be intentional about thinking and working politically throughout a given programme, from inception, to implementation, and beyond.
So, don’t just stop at doing political economy analysis. The most important thing is what you do with the information afterwards: how to mitigate what you can and how to navigate more complex structural issues.
It is critical to learn and adapt throughout. Piloting can be an important avenue to do this, as it allows you to make mistakes, learn, adapt, and choose different ways forward.
There must be mutual trust and respect between donors and implementing partners to deliver a truly flexible and adaptive programme.
Identify and work with champions on the ground who can impact political decision making, build trust and provide an in depth understanding of the informal structures and dynamics at play.
Catalyse on political moments of opportunity to achieve reform.
So, despite the challenges, there was a positive air in the room that TWP can be used to help map more politically informed approaches to land reform. It strikes me that many of the themes which emerged are relevant across multiple sectors, and have been central to the discussions on health, localisation, democracy support, and regional integration that the TWP CoP has hosted as part of our Global Webinar Series. So maybe what is most important in catalysing the TWP approach across sectors are the principles embedded in TWP thinking, rather than providing a ‘tool kit’ to inform programme design and implementation. Many questions remain, but it’s great to see TWP featuring in conversations about the land governance sector.
If you would like to connect with others in this space, or find out more about TWP and land governance, please contact Tony Burns (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Kate Rickersey (email@example.com). You can also read their latest report on ‘Thinking and Working Politically in the Land Sector in Mekong Region’, co-authored with Micah Ingalls (also featured below).
Books, Journal and Articles
Martin, I. (2022) All necessary measures? The United Nations and International Intervention in Libya. Hurst Publishers.
In this book, Ian Martin, the UN’s former representative on the ground in Libya, explores how the 2011 NATO mission in Libya unfolded — and eventually unravelled. It looks into critical questions surrounding the justification of responses, how decisions were made, issues regarding the transition period, and whether a peaceful political settlement was ever possible. The author offers insights into some of the closed-door decision making and draws out lessons that are relevant well beyond Libya.
Reports, Briefs and Working Papers
Bureau of Conflict and Stabilisation Operations (2022) ‘2022 United States Strategy to Anticipate, Prevent, and Respond to Atrocities’. Washington DC: US Department of State.
This report outlines the strategic approach, goals, and objectives of the new US Strategy to Anticipate, Prevent and Respond to Atrocities. The report has a clear focus on consultation, learning, and adaption in terms of measuring what works/works less well.
Burge, R., Nadelman, R., McGee, R., Fox, J., & Anderson, C. (2022) ‘Seeing the combined effects of aid programmes’. IDS Policy Briefing 196. Brighton: Institute of Development Studies.
Different aid agencies often try to support change working in the same places, at the same time, and with similar actors. Yet, their interactions and combined effects are rarely explored. This Policy Briefing outlines findings from research conducted by the FCDO-funded Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) programme on recent aid efforts that overlapped in Mozambique, Nigeria and Pakistan, drawing on insights from FCDO advisors and practitioners. The research found three distinct ‘interaction effects’: synergy, parallel play, and disconnect. The paper explores how using an ‘interaction effects’ lens in practice could inform more coherent aid agency strategies and programming.
Burns, T., Ingalls, M., & Rickersey, K. (2022) ‘Thinking and Working Politically in the Land Sector in Mekong Region’. Land Equity International.
This paper reviews lessons and experiences from the Mekong Region Land Governance Project in implementing a land administration initiative by thinking and working politically. The paper concludes by arguing that the current approach to land administration reform itself needs reform. Among other things, the sector needs to consider the ‘messy politics’ that impact on the provision of efficient and effective land administration services that benefit society at large. This paper will be presented at the FIG Congress 2022, taking place 11-15 September 2022 in Warsaw, which is now open for registration.
Frazer, S., Granius, M., Brinkerhoff, D., & McGregor, L. (2022) ‘Integrated Governance; Achieving governance results and contributing to sector outcomes’. Washington DC: RTI International.
This report summarises the results of a study analysing how governance and sector programmes interact to achieve broad-based socio-economic development. The report finds three integrated governance programming variants: i) an emphasis on citizen and government collaboration to improve service delivery; ii) interventions that serve as the glue between sectors; and iii) a balancing act for indicators to measure the contribution of governance to sectoral outcomes. The analysis identified four key factors for greater integration between governance and sector programming: contextual readiness, the application of learning and adaptive approaches, donor support, and recognition of the limitations of integrated governance. The report then offers recommendations and implications for addressing the challenge of integrating governance and sector programming to achieve development outcomes.
Ingram, G. (2022) ‘Locally driven development: Overcoming the obstacles’. Washington DC: Brookings Institution.
This essay looks at the path that USAID has taken on locally led development to date, identifying key obstacles (capacity, risk, rigidity in budget, programmatic best practices and delegation of authority, organisational structure, values, and power dynamics), and how these can be overcome. The essay also includes commentaries by a range of experts to add nuance and a variety of perspectives to the discussion.
Khan, M., & Roy, P. (2022) ‘Making anti-corruption real: using a “Power Capabilities and Interest Approach” to stop wasting money and start making progress’. SOAS-ACE Synthesis Report 1. London: Anti-Corruption Evidence (ACE) Research Consortium, SOAS.
Why have anti-corruption efforts not delivered stronger results, particularly when they seem to work in some countries? This is the question that this Synthesis Report seeks to address, while also exploring strategies to improve the effectiveness of anti-corruption efforts. The paper argues that anti-corruption cannot be treated as siloed transparency and accountability pillars that sit beside other developmental policies. Instead, anti-corruption has to be built into the design of all policies, programmes and institutions that are being targeted. An effective policy needs to trigger activity by interested parties of sufficient power and capabilities to ensure that the relevant rules are enforced. When this is the case, the evidence shows existing transparency and accountability processes can work quite well.
OECD (2022) ‘Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls. Guidance for Development Partners’. Paris: OECD.
Understanding gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as prerequisites to the realisation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, this Guidance is a practical handbook for development partners supporting those global ambitions. Designed around the programme cycle and beyond, it provides practical steps for practitioners and examples of good practices, as well as checklists and recommendations on how to drive change.
Rocha Menocal, A. (2022) ‘Why incorporating organised crime into analysis of elite bargains and political settlements matters: Understanding prospects for more peaceful, open and inclusive politics’. SOC ACE Research Paper 15. Birmingham: Serious Organised Crime & Anti-Corruption Evidence Research Programme, University of Birmingham.
This paper argues that political settlements analysis and an understanding of elite bargains need to incorporate a deeper and more systematic exploration of serious organised crime (SOC), since this affects critical elements related to the nature and quality of elite bargains and political settlements. In particular, the paper examines how SOC affects these issues – from the elites that constitute a bargain or settlement, to violence and stability, to ‘stateness’, or the extent to which a state is anchored in society, state capacity and political will, to legitimacy and electoral politics. The paper also outlines lessons and implications that may guide further reflection in conflict and development circles on the nexus between organised crime, elite bargains and political settlements from a thinking and working politically perspective. The paper comes with an accompanying Briefing Note.
Sharp, S., Riemenschneider, N., & Selvester, K. (2022) ‘Evidence-led adaptive programming: Lessons from MUVA’. London: ODI.
This paper explores MUVA - an adaptive female economic empowerment programme in Mozambique. The authors argue MUVA is atypically evidence-led, combining systematic, inclusive reflective practice with extensive real-time data collection, and they explore the fundamental features of MUVA’s monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) approach that have supported this.
United Kingdom Humanitarian Innovation Hub (2022) ‘Enabling the local response: Emerging humanitarian priorities in Ukraine, March - May 2022’. United Kingdom Humanitarian Innovation Hub.
This report offers a review of data and interviews with national and international humanitarian actors and experts during May 2022 which revealed broad trends and issues in the response to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ukraine.
USAID (2022) ‘Dekleptification Guide; Seizing Windows of Opportunity to Roll Back Kleptocratic Structures’. Consultation Draft. Washington DC: USAID.
This guidance is a resource for USAID staff working in countries that face kleptocracy and strategic corruption. It is one component of a suite of anti-corruption policy and programmatic products that contribute to USAID’s elevation of anti-corruption as a critical development issue and to the implementation of the U.S. Strategy on Countering Corruption. It sets out recommendations for taking advantage of windows of opportunity where there is political will to roll back entrenched kleptocratic structures.
USAID (2022). ‘Measuring and monitoring adaptive learning; A Landscape Review’. USAID and MOMENTUM Knowledge Accelerator.
This landscape review highlights learning from five adaptive programming guidelines and toolkits and one implementation science framework to inform the monitoring and evaluation of adaptive learning.
Williams, G. (2022) ‘Thinking and Working Politically on Health Systems Resilience: Learning from the experience of Cameroon, Nepal and South Africa during COVID-19’. TWP CoP-TPP Reflection Note. Birmingham: TWP CoP, University of Birmingham.
This reflection note synthesises insights arising from an event held in February 2022 as part of the TWP CoP Global Webinar Series on the resilience of health systems, drawing on experiences from Cameroon, Nepal and South Africa. The note analyses the political economy factors that help to explain why some systems have proven more/less resilient than others, and draws out policy implications from a comparative perspective. The paper argues that governance is critical in shaping the resilience of health systems and requires more consistent and systematic attention in research and policy making.
Blogs, Podcasts and other opinion pieces
Aston, T. (2022) ‘Re-making the case for adaptive management’, Medium.
In this blog post Tom gives an overview of the competing strands of thought on the state of adaptive management, including links to useful papers focusing on the evidence. He argues that ‘the issue of the day is no longer whether there is any credible evidence that adaptive programming can work and that it can merit the investment. Instead, it’s about effectively marshalling contextually relevant evidence, and better understanding how to prompt some degree adaptive “tolerance” inside organisations beyond innovators and early adopters’.
Doyle, C. (2022) ‘Review of ‘All Necessary Measures? The United Nations and International Intervention in Libya’. The New Arab.
This post reviews the new book by Ian Martin highlighted above on ‘All Necessary Measures? The United Nations and International Intervention in Libya’. For Doyle, ‘the value of this work is that it explains all the intricate challenges of working in a post-dictatorial conflict zone. It shows contrary to tabloid-style journalism that few decisions were easy or obvious, a warning to sofa critics who have never had to face such tasks’.
Dercon, S. (2022) ‘In Praise of African Technocrats’. African Affairs.
In this blog post Dercon provides an overview of the key thesis and arguments in his new book Gambling on Development: why some countries win and others lose. He then focuses on the work of specific African technocrats (Benno Nduku, Ato Newai Gebreab, and Emmanual Tumusiime-Mutebile) who were able to work with the grain while attempting to keep the economy and broader development on track, in challenging political and economic circumstances.
Green, D. (2022) ‘Where have we got to on Thinking and Working Politically? Update and a Mildly Heretical Thought’. FP2P.
In this blog post, Duncan reflects on key themes that emerged in a closed door event on the state of TWP in development and raises interesting questions on where next.
Haggart, B. (2022) ‘Consensus on Transparency Can Hide a Deeper Debate’. Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI).
In this post, the author explores the need for transparency and regulation, but asks the question ‘what do you do with it once you have it?’. He argues that we need both a high-capacity democratic state and a competitive market to move our society toward outcomes in which neither the state nor companies exert arbitrary power over individuals. If transparency is the first step toward sound regulation, enabling governments to take advantage of this transparency is the next.
Hudson, A. (2022) ‘Alan’s July Open and Adaptive Reads; sandboxes, stories, gambles and change’. Global Integrity.
In this blog post Alan gives an overview of his ‘top reads’ for the month of July 2022.
JASS (2022) ‘Bold Movements + bold funding = bold change’. JASS.
This report relays findings from interviews with primarily black women leaders in philanthropy about the significant risks and challenges philanthropic movements are facing, and how philanthropy is responding. This inter-generational and cross-sectoral conversation surfaced insights about the role of philanthropy in terms of movement needs, and the stretch of imagination needed about how to resource transformational work.
In this post, the author explains how UNDP is introducing adaptive management learning loops in conflict affected and fragile settings (Yemen, Madagascar, Palestine, and Guatemala). The aim is to show that continuous experimentation and intentional learning to improve intervention results can better position programming towards attaining sustainable development goals, reducing uncertainty and increasing resilience in the face of change.
Mathur, M. (2022) ‘Systems Theory of Change’, DESTA Research, Medium.
This blog post highlights the importance of developing Theory of Change by using Participatory Systems Thinking, based on the author’s experience of applying it to social purpose organisations.
McCulloch, N. (2022) ‘High fossil fuel prices are good for the planet - here’s how to keep them high while avoiding riots and hurting the poor’. The Conversation.
This article argues that in order to move away from fossil fuels, it is essential to maintain current prices high. But is it possible to keep fossil fuel prices high without triggering riots? According to the author, the key is to keep consumer prices high by increasing fuel taxes when international oil and gas prices do eventually fall. Making this politically acceptable requires i) complementing high prices for consumers with a radical overhaul of the taxation regime facing fossil fuel companies, not just one-off windfall taxes; and ii) returning the additional tax consumers pay as an equal carbon grant.
Vester Haldrup, S. (2022) ‘Rethinking monitoring and evaluation in complex systems - when learning is a result in itself’. UNDP Innovation, Medium.
This blog post summarises how UNDP’s ‘Deep Demonstrations’ have shown that using systems and portfolio approaches requires very different ways of doing M&E and results measurement. It argues that there is a need for a shift in how M&E is done so that it is coherent with the complex nature of the challenges facing the world today. Four key issues are noted: 1) the need to learn and adapt, 2) adopt longer time-horizons, 3) capture impact in the aggregate, 4) focus on contribution over attribution. The post also introduces the UNDP’s ‘M&E sandbox’ to nurture and learn from innovative M&E efforts that may help address these challenges.
7 June 2022: Becoming an Adaptive Organization: U.S. Government Perspectives, USAID Learning Lab
8 June 2022: What does it mean to lead in emergent and transformational ways? Collective Impact Forum
17 June 2022: M&E Sandbox: How do we use M&E as a vehicle for learning? UNDP Innovation
23 June 2022: Thinking and working politically about regional cooperation and integration, TWP CoP and ECDPM
21 July 2022: Uniting against corruption: Global Game Changers on the Front Lines, Summit for Democracy, USAID DRG Center
26 July 2022: Russia-Ukraine Dialogues: economic scars of the war, LSE Ideas
7-9 September 2022: Transformational change towards a sustainable future, Wilton Park & partners
22-23 September 2022: 4th World Bank IFS ODI Tax Conference: Global Tax Equity, World Bank & partners
28-30 September 2022: Athens Democracy Forum, The Democracy & Culture Foundation
3-4 October 2022: Putting the Locally-led Adaption (LLA) Principles into Practice, International Institute for Environment and Development
Training, Learning Opportunities and other Resources
The USAID Learning lab offers a selection of tools and approaches to learning for better development programming.
The Policy Practice together with ODI will run a Political Economy Analysis in action online training course starting in September 2022 that covers adaptive management and other ways to ‘think and work politically’. The course comprises of 10 online sessions. Deadline to apply is July 31.
Oxford Policy Management has organised a series of virtual webinars to showcase MUVA’s experiences and lessons, and to provide an opportunity for dialogue with the broader development community on issues related to women’s economic empowerment.
Tell us what you think…we want to hear from you!
Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us for your suggestions and ideas for sections of our newsletter. You can do this via:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Twitter: @TWP_Community
- Or by leaving a comment down below
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