TWP CoP March 2022 Newsletter
Welcome to the March 2022 TWP newsletter! We bring to you the latest news and updates on all things TWP, including a round-up of our global webinar series. Find out more below.
Dear Friends and fellow travellers on all things TWP,
In this edition, we are delighted to share a podcast that Alina has done with Idayat Hassan, director of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) in Nigeria, on where the field of democracy support finds itself at and whether it is fit for purpose. We also have exciting news and updates regarding the TWP 2022 Global Webinar Series, and highlight publications, events, and other resources of interest from a TWP perspective. In terms of what we are reading, ODI’s Sam Sharp reviews the final report from the Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) international research consortium, led by colleagues at IDS .
As you may have seen, we recently circulated a short survey to gather feedback on our newsletter. Thank you so much to those who have responded so far. Your feedback has been invaluable. For those who haven’t had the chance to complete it yet and can spare a couple of minutes, please do take a look at the survey so that we can get a sense of what is working well and less well, and how we can make the newsletter more useful for future editions.
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With all best wishes,
Alina & Graham
For this edition’s highlight feature, TWP CoP Director Alina Rocha Menocal had the pleasure of interviewing Idayat Hassan, director of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) (Abuja, Nigeria), on what is needed for greater democracy support.
The interview is a great taster for the third event in our TWP Global Webinar series, which we are convening in partnership with ODI, titled ‘Engaging with Politics: towards smarter international support to revitalise democracy’. The event will take place tomorrow, Wednesday 30th March from 2-4pm BST. We have an exciting line-up of speakers who will be discussing how the democracy support field has evolved, where there may be some innovative practice from a TWP perspective and what that looks like, and what factors may facilitate or constrain the ability of international development actors to take politics more seriously into account in this work. There is still time to register, so follow the link above, and we hope you can join the discussion!
Academic Books, Journals and Articles:
Aidan Craney, Lisa Denney, David Hudson, and Ujjwal Krishna, ‘Adaptive programming, politics and learning in development’, in The Routledge Handbook of Global Development, Routledge, 2022
In this chapter the authors highlight the need for adaptability and reflexive practice in development work that emphasises cultivating a deep understanding of the local context and investing in learning. Drawing on case studies from the Philippines, Sri Lankan and Oceania, the authors offer examples of adaptive management, problem-driven iterative adaptation (PDIA), and thinking and working politically (TWP) as a way of providing strategies and tools relevant to students and practitioners of development.
Ali Ahmad, Neil McCulloch, Muzna Al-Masri, and Marc Ayoub, ‘From dysfunctional to functional corruption: the politics of decentralised electricity provision in Lebanon’, Energy Research and Social Science, Vol. 86, April 2022
Dysfunctional and corruption-prone power sectors are a persisting challenge in many developing countries. This article explores the service provision model of Electricite du Zahle (EDZ), a decentralized local utility in Lebanon. The analysis shows that although EDZ has succeeded in improving service customer experience, its approach has not reduced corruption. Yet, it has achieved a notable developmental outcome in a way that is consistent with the complex political settlement of the country. The findings point to the possibility of extending similar – second-best, but politically feasible – approaches throughout Lebanon and, potentially, in many other countries where the implementation of centralised power sector reforms has not succeeded.
Blessings Chinsinga, Ezana Haddis Weldeghebrael, Tim Kelsall, Nicolai Schulz, and Timothy P. Williams, ‘Using political settlements analysis to explain poverty trends in Ethiopia, Malawi, Rwanda and Tanzania’, World Development, Vol. 153, May 2022
This article uses political settlements analysis to help illuminate trends in poverty reduction in Ethiopia, Malawi, Rwanda and Tanzania. It finds that the predictions of political settlements theory about the relationship between political settlement type and actual poverty reduction are reasonably well supported by the data. It then supplements this finding with a largely qualitative analytical narrative investigating the causal mechanisms of elite commitment and state capability. It is argued that, when supplemented by other variables such as ideology, political settlements analysis is a promising explanatory model.
Dan Honig, Ranjit Lall, and Bradley C. Parks, ‘When does transparency improve institutional performance? Evidence from 20,000 projects in 183 countries’, American Journal of Political Science, February 2022
Access to information (ATI) policies are often praised for strengthening transparency, accountability, and trust in public institutions, yet evidence that they improve institutional performance is mixed. This research argues that an important impediment to the effective operation of such policies is political in nature: bureaucrats do not comply with information requests when they can expose poor performance.
Danish Khan and Aasim Sajjad Akhtar, ‘Transforming a praetorian polity: the political economy of democratization in Pakistan’, Canadian Journal of Development Studies, January 2022
This article analyses the hegemonic role of the military vis-à-vis elected civilian governments in Pakistan from political economy perspective. Absence of “good governance” on the part of elected civilian governments is often depicted as the key underlying factor that allows the military to maintain its dominance over state and society. In sharp contrast, this piece argues that the emphasis on “good” governance as a pathway to democratic consolidation ignores socio-economic and institutional factors which facilitate the successful reproduction of Pakistan’s militarised hegemonic order.
Lucan Way, ‘The Rebirth of the Liberal World Order?’, Journal of Democracy, March 2022
In this extended article, Way argues that ‘the Russian invasion of Ukraine has given the world’s democrats a renewed sense of unity and purpose’, and that ‘Putin’s reckless gamble may unexpectedly strengthen democracy in Europe and beyond’.
Maha Shuayb, ‘Localisation only pays lip service to fixing aid’s colonial legacy’, The New Humanitarian, February 2022
In this article Shuayb argues that the international sector is ‘tip-toeing around the heart of the issue: the deep-rooted racism and ongoing legacies of colonialism. Based on her experience of “localisation”, the author argues that the sector is getting it wrong’, and that localisation ‘often implies this reductionist understanding of who is local’. She calls for greater inclusion of people from the Global South from conception to execution of research, programme response, and policy development.
Tom Lavers, ‘The Politics of Distributing Social Transfers: State Capacity and Political Contestation in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia’, Oxford University Press, March 2022
This book provides a systematic analysis of the political processes shaping the distribution of social transfers in six countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. In doing so, the book addresses a notable gap in recent research on social protection concerning the politics of implementation. The book underscores the inherently political nature of implementation and questions common technocratic efforts to improve implementation by de-politicizing the social protection policy process.
Reports, Briefs, and Working Papers:
Colin Anderson, John Gaventa, Anuradha Joshi, Emilie Wilson, Niranjan J. Nampoothiri, and Jenny Edwards, ‘Against the Odds: Action for Empowerment and Accountability in Challenging Context’, A4EA Policy and Practice Paper, Institute of Development Studies, February 2022
How and under what conditions does citizen-led social and political action contribute to empowerment and accountability? What are the strategies used, and with what outcomes, especially in settings which are democratically weak, politically fragile and affected by legacies of violence and conflict? This report sums up the key findings from this research across the themes of: space for citizen action; citizen-governance relations; women’s political participation and collective action; citizen-led strategies for empowerment and accountability; and enabling citizen action. Take a look at the ‘what we’re reading section’ below for an in depth review of this piece!
Corinne Heaven, Alina Rocha Menocal, Dominik Zaum, and Sarah Von Billerbeck, ‘From elite bargains to (more) open and (more) inclusive politics’, Research Report prepared for the FCDO Conflict, Stabilisation and Mediation Directorate, University of Reading, March 2022
How can states and societies that are in the throes of violent conflict evolve into political orders that are more broadly inclusive and anchored in institutions, both formal and informal, that protect the interests not just of those wielding power, but also of the wide range of groups in their population at large? This is the question at the heart of this research, with particular emphasis on implications for external actors seeking to support such processes. A podcast summarising findings and highlights from the research was also featured in the World Bank Fragility Forum 2022. A blog has also been published on the ODI website. The research finds that: 1) external actors can influence elite bargains, but there is a need to be humble and realistic; 2) institutions, both formal and informal, remain central; 3) not all good things go together i.e. there is no “golden thread” or “virtuous cycle” of mutually reinforcing reforms that will seamlessly open up narrow elite bargains and underlying political settlements; 4) history matters and trajectories are path dependent.
Fatai Aremu, ‘Donor Action for Empowerment and Accountability in Nigeria’, IDS Working Paper 565, Institute of Development Studies, March 2022
Efforts to generate greater budget transparency, citizen participation in resource allocation, and public oversight of government spending abound. But how can development donors and lenders support such efforts, and what are their limitations? An analysis of the outcomes of two projects in the Nigerian States of Jigawa and Kaduna — the Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL) programme funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, and the World Bank States Financial Transparency Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) initiative — helps to address these questions. The paper finds that their actions have been complementary in several ways, despite significant contextual differences between the states in terms of conflict dynamics and prevailing citizen–state relations. The projects also reinforced each other’s efforts on public procurement reform in Kaduna State. However, in Jigawa State, SFTAS incentives to pass a procurement law following a standard template failed to codify and may indeed reverse gains from longstanding PERL efforts supporting transparency. This illustrates how donors with similar reform objectives in the same contexts can unconsciously undermine existing efforts towards overarching public accountability goals.
Florencia Guerzovich, Tom Aston, Brian Levy, Paula Chies Schommer, Rebecca Haines, Sue Cant, and Grazielli Faria Zimmer Santos, ‘How do we shape and navigate to social accountability scale? Introducing a middle-level Theory of Change’, Centre of Excellence for Development Impact and Learning (CEDIL), February 2022
In the last two decades, the uptake of social accountability interventions has grown exponentially. While evidence of social accountability’s contribution to health outcomes is mixed, there is significant scale up of these interventions in the sector. This apparent contradiction is the point of departure for the development of middle-level theory on potential pathways to scale up in the health sector. This paper Introduces a middle-level Theory of Change, and argues that practitioners can pursue at least three pathways to scale: the replication of practice in relation to what works, through leveraging the countervailing power of resistance, and seeking resonance with existing public sector efforts.
Gemma Davies and Alexandra Spencer, ‘Complementary approaches between international and local protection advocacy: “Don’t speak for me, I’ll speak for myself”’, Humanitarian Policy Group Briefing Note, ODI, March 2022
This paper explores current practice of complementary advocacy between national actors and international humanitarian actors to strengthen the protection of conflict-affected populations, with a particular focus on Jordan and South Sudan. It examines the factors that enable complementary approaches to advocacy, the challenges and risks involved and opportunities to strengthen complementary and collaborative approaches to protection advocacy.
Graham Teskey and Priya Chattier, ‘Localisation; what could it mean for contractors?’, Governance and Development Working Paper Series, Issue 12, Abt Associates, March 2022
This paper summarises how Abt national staff think about localisation and what it means to them. It also proposes a simple diagnostic tool to help practitioners reflect more systematically and rigorously on the extent to which donor programmes and projects aid and abet the localisation agenda. Lastly, the paper considers politically feasible options for donors who wish to advance this agenda: just what reasonably can be expected in current circumstances?
Jeremy Lind, ‘Politics and Governance of Social Assistance in Crises from the Bottom Up’, BASIC Research Working Paper 4, IDS, February 2022
This paper reviews existing perspectives on the politics and governance of social assistance in crises from the bottom up – from sub-national regions (or states/provinces) down to districts, sub-districts, towns, and villages. Using key insights from PEA of humanitarian assistance, and insights from the ‘political marketplace’, it examines the politics of social protection, and reviews various insights into sub-national and local governance, focusing on the role of non-state actors in provisioning and distribution at the edges of state power, delivery configurations in these settings, and the rationalities of local governance and ‘real implementation’.
Jonathan Fox, ‘Accountability Keywords’, Accountability Working Paper, Number 11, Accountability Research Center, January 2022
‘Accountability’ is a concept that has become shorthand to refer to diverse efforts to address problems with the exercise of power. In practice, the accountability idea is malleable, ambiguous — and contested. This working paper unpacks diverse understandings of accountability ideas, using the ‘keywords’ approach. Indeed, the concept’s fundamental ambiguity is a major reason why it can be difficult to communicate ideas about accountability across disciplines, cultures, and languages. The goal here is to inform efforts to find common ground between diverse potential constituencies for accountable governance. For a summary of the report, please read the post on Duncan Green’s FP2P blog.
Kabani Sanga, Seu’ula Johannson-Fua, Martyn Reynolds, David Fa’avae, Richard Robyns, and Danny Jim, ‘Contextualising Leadership: Looking for Leadership in the Everyday’, Development Leadership Programme, March 2022
This paper asks key questions of leadership in context: what it is, what kinds of contextual evidence are appropriate for leadership claims, and where to look for evidence of leadership. These questions are important in understanding complex development problems, and in finding ways of addressing them that are practical, appropriate and sustainable.
Mark Buntaine, Alex Babago, Tanner Bangerter, Paul Bukuluki, and Brigham Daniels, ‘Recognizing local leaders as an anti-corruption strategy: experimental and ethnographic evidence from Uganda’, GI-ACE Working Paper (17), Anti-Corruption Evidence Research Programme, Global Integrity, January 2022
Through this ethnographic study, the authors investigate whether positive recognition of elected community leaders improves the administration of public projects and fosters expectation for good governance. It was found that the possibility for recognition generated excitement among local leaders, but was not able to overcome structural constraints that limited local leaders’ ability to shape the outcomes of public projects.
Mushtaq Khan and Mitchell Watkins, Salahuddin Aminuzzaman, Sumaiya Khair, and Muhammad Zakir Hossain Khan, ‘Win-win: designing dual-use in climate projects for effective anti-corruption in Bangladesh’, Climate and Development, January 2022
Climate adaptation projects in Bangladesh have been widely affected by high levels of corruption and resource leakage. However, the dual-use characteristics of climate adaptation investments create incentives for influential households to monitor projects in their own interest. The authors theorize that these households can effectively use informal power and networks to constrain corruption by contractors and officials. It is argued that increasing the level of dual-use benefits is therefore a viable way of reducing corruption in contexts of poor governance.
Ortun Merkle, ‘Anti-corruption and gender: the role of women’s political participation’, Westminster Foundation for Democracy, January 2022
This policy brief shows that while much remains to be explored, there are clear links between anti-corruption and women's political participation that are important to understand for politicians, anti-corruption advocates, and those working on increasing women’s representation in political office.
Rahmatullah Amiri and Ashley Jackson, ‘Taliban Taxation in Afghanistan (2006-2021)’, Working Paper 138, International Centre for Tax and Development, February 2022
This research explores three types of Taliban taxation; ushr (effectively a harvest tax, applied to both legal crops as well as opium), taxation on transport of goods (similar to customs), and taxes on aid interventions. The paper explores how and why each practice evolved differently at the subnational level and what these practices show about civilian-Taliban relations.
Rift Valley Institute, ‘What next for the Juba peace agreement? Evolving political and security dynamics in Darfur’, Rift Valley Institute, February 2022
This briefing considers the changing political situation in Sudan with a particular focus on the future of the Juba Peace Agreement (JPA) and the evolving political and security dynamics in Darfur. It is the second of a series of rapid response updates by the Rift Valley Institute for the UK government’s XCEPT (Cross-Border Conflict Evidence, Policy and Trends) programme.
Roberto Bodo and Carmen Conley, ‘Local Governance: Chipping Away at Corruption’, DAI Global, January 2022
Alongside national-level anticorruption initiatives, it is crucial to prevent, detect, and tackle corruption at the local level, especially as local governments take on greater financial and administrative responsibilities as a result of the decentralization process. This article provides short summaries of programmes implemented by DAI and USAID to tackle corruption at the local level in Kosovo (modernising public procurement and limiting municipal vulnerability to corruption), Kyrgyzstan (to increase transparency and local trust in government), Malawi (to facilitate the full implementation of decentralization and enhance district-level services) and DRC (to address governance and service delivery challenges at the national policy level, and to directly support seven provinces and their local governments).
Stephen Gray and Andy Carl, ‘The Difference Learning Makes; Factors that enable or inhibit adaptive programming for Christian Aid Ireland and partner organisations’, Christian Aid Ireland, February 2022
The aim of this study is to help deepen CA Ireland, CA country teams’ and partners’ understanding of (a) whether their application of adaptive programming has resulted in better development outcomes, and (b) how they can better understand the factors that enabled or inhibited the effectiveness of using this approach. It found that adaptive programming contributed to better development outcomes (through proactive reflection and learning, and reactive capacity), which enabled organisations to enhance their skills to better respond and be flexible to contextual challenges. The study concludes with several recommendations for CA Ireland, all of which have relevance for a broader community of donors and implementing organisations interested in the potential of adaptive programming.
Blogs, podcasts, and other opinion pieces:
Aida Harahap, Tanya Jakimow, and Isobel Wilson-Cleary, ‘Beyond “money politics” in Indonesia - five strategies to help lower costs to women’s political representation’, Development Leadership Programme, March 2022
How can women from non-elite backgrounds be supported to contest elections? This blog summarises key insights from research on this question, and offers considerations for supporting women’s political representation in Indonesia.
Alan Hudson, ‘Alan’s Open and Adaptive Adventures (February 2022)’, Global Integrity, February 2022
In this blog post, Alan highlights his ‘top reads’ including an analysis of USAID’s local capacity development policy, and a look at Graham Teskey’s TWP CoP think piece ‘Thinking and Working Politically: what have we learned since 2013?’.
Brenda Barbour and Sarah Cliffe, ‘Learning the Lessons of Fragility, Conflict, and Violence’, Episode 4 in ‘What have we learned; the evaluation podcast’, World Bank Group, March 2022
In this podcast the speakers discuss how development organisations haven been adapting to the growth of of insecurity, looking in particular at the role of corruption and institutions.
Donna Andrews, Tim Williamson, Marje Aksli and Samuel Garoni, ‘Trust - necessary fuel for effective governance’, World Bank Blogs, January 2022
Public trust has become an increasingly challenging issue especially during the pandemic, feeding into the broader debate around renewing the social contract between governments and citizens. This blog summaries arguments made in the fifth Future of Government Disruptive Debate which convened experts from around the world to share their views on trust in governments.
Duncan Green, ‘A Brilliant History of the rise and power of Constitutions as a global ‘political technology’, FP2P, March 2022
In this blog post Duncan reviews Linda Colley’s The Gun, the Ship and the Pen, on warfare, constitutions, and the making of the modern world. The book traces the political history from 1750 to the present day through the lens of the appearance and endless rewriting of constitutions which arose as a product of ‘hybrid warfare’.
Florencia Guerovich and Rachel Condo, ‘Social Accountability Practitioners as System Conveners’, Medium, February 2022
Systems strengthening and transformation is all the rage these days in philanthropy. Conversely, many commentators believe that “social accountability”, especially to support better service delivery at the local level is no longer “hot” among practitioners. In this blog post the authors underline that many of those social accountability practitioners working in the frontline may have been facilitating system strengthening and transformation all along.
Graham Teskey, ‘Grappling with localisation’, Abt Associates Governance and Development Soapbox, March 2022
In this blog post Graham summarises the key arguments from his new paper on localisation with Priya Chattier highlighted above, including an overview of their tool for diagnosing how far Abt is succeeding in transferring power and authority through the four dimensions of meaningful localisation; systemic, strategic, spending, and staffing.
Kate Pruce, ‘Contactless aid in Tonga: Re-thinking disaster response in the Pacific Islands’, University of Birmingham, February 2022
This blog post highlights how contactless aid as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic ‘should not be seen as a temporary replacement for business as usual in the humanitarian and development sectors, but part of a genuine process of localisation that enables local organisations and communities to lead the humanitarian responses and development processes that affect them’.
Megan O’Donnell, Sarah Rose, Lauren Rawlings, and Erin Collinson, ‘USAID’s Local Capacity Development Policy: Reflections and Recommendations’, Center for Global Development, February 2022
In this piece, CGD colleagues reflect on USAID’s draft LCD policy, highlighting its strengths and the changes they’d like to see reflected in the final draft. And while acknowledging the road ahead won’t be an easy one, they offer recommendations for translating policy into practice.
Namit Wagley, ‘Nepal’s Federalism Milestone: Five Opportunities and a Second Round of Elections’, The Asia Foundation, March 2022
In January 2022, after months of uncertainty, political instability, and back-channel negotiations, Nepal announced that the next round of local elections will take place on May 13. This is a historic moment for Nepal: having completed their first term, local governments created by the constitutional transition to federalism in 2017 will now be renewed by timely elections. This piece looks at the challenges and opportunities facing Nepal at this historical juncture.
Richard Burge and Rosemary McGee, ‘New Insights on adaptive management in aid programming’, Institute of Development Studies, March 2022
This blog post shares three key findings from research into how adaptively managed aid programmes interact with other aid programmes working on similar issues in overlapping locations. Analysing the AAWAZ programme in Pakistan, the PERL programme in Nigeria (both FCDO), and SFTAS programme (World Bank) also in Nigeria, the research finds that 1) ‘Adaptation is most effective if it includes continuously adapting to other aid programmes’, 2) ‘Adaptive management of empowerment and accountability programmes requires continuous analysis - not only of ongoing shifts in the governance environment but also of how other aid programmes are unfolding’, 3) ‘There are times when an adaptively managed programme might need to adapt away from “working with the grain”’.
Tom Mayne, Tena Prelec, and Catherine Owen, ‘The problem of tracing dirty money from Russia: How ‘illegal’ are ‘illicit’ flows?’, LSE Blogs, February 2022
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted renewed calls to tackle the flow of ‘dirty money’ from Russia into other European states. In this post the authors argue that given the challenges associated with conceptualising illicit financial flows, a wider approach to studying the transnational reach of dirty money is needed.
Tuesday, 1st February 2022: Adaptive Programming at the Sub-National Level: Evidence from Papau New Guinea, Center for Global Development.
Thursday 3rd February 2022: Local government leadership in sanitation and hygiene: Experiences and learnings, Institute of Development Studies.
Thursday, 10th February 2022: Unlocking feminist activism, ODI
Thursday, 17th February 2022: Thinking Politically about Health Systems Resilience in the Context of COVID-19, TWP Community of Practice, and The Policy Practice.
Thursday, 24th February: SOS Sahel’s localisation journey, ODI.
Monday 7th- Tuesday 15th March 2022: The World Bank Fragility Forum, World Bank.
Wednesday 16th March: Ukraine - global development and economic implications?, Institute of Development Studies.
Monday, 21st March/Tuesday 22nd March: Localisation and locally led development: An opportunity for thinking and working politically to deliver?, TWP CoP and La Trobe University.
Monday 21st - Wednesday 23rd March: The European Humanitarian Forum, European Commission
Tuesday 22nd March: Russia’s War Against Ukraine - Implications for Democracies and Democracy Support in the Eastern Partnership Region, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance
Wednesday 23rd March: The Case for Inclusive Environmental Decision- making: what works? Westminster Foundation for Democracy
Tuesday 22nd-Friday 25th March: Strengthening evidence use during the pandemic and beyond, CEDIL Programme.
Tuesday 29th March: Making Anti-Corruption Real: How to Stop Wasting Money and Make Progress, SOAS ACE.
Tuesday 29th- Thursday 31th March 2022: Conference on Environmental Democracy, Westminster Foundation for Democracy
Wednesday, 30th March 2022: Engaging with politics; towards smarter international support to revitalise democracy, TWP CoP and ODI.
Tuesday 3rd - Thursday 5th May: Forum for Global Challenges, University of Birmingham (in collaboration with other partners).
Monday 16th - Tuesday 17th May: The puzzle of peace - towards inclusive development in fragile contexts, United Nations University (UNU-WIDER)
Training, Learning Opportunities and other Resources
USAID has put together a new Theory of Change Workbook, which takes you through a five-step process to develop a programme's theory of change. This was developed by Social Impact under the USAID Learns support mechanism to USAID/Vietnam, and is now open source - anyone can download a copy from Google Drive by following this link. A blog providing an overview can be found on Social Impact's site and USAID Learning Lab. The process outlined here is inspired by systems thinking, and you will find overlaps and similarities to other approaches like problem-driven iterative adaptation and context-driven adaptation. The process also borrows from tools such as USAID’s 5Rs framework and USAID’s applied political economy analysis framework.
In addition, the USAID Learning Lab has put together a course titled ‘Introduction to Collaborating, Learning and Adapting (CLA) in the Program Cycle’. Intended for development professionals, this 45-minute introductory online course introduces the CLA Framework, the pathways for integrating CLA in your work, and key tools and resources available to help you do so. Participants will work through a series of interactive scenarios using reference tools and resources to apply their learning throughout the course.
TWP CoP friend and colleague David Jacobstein at USAID is looking to add to the collection of USAID Context-Driven Adaptation Tips that are crowd-sourced from examples given by Mission staff and partners. If you have relevant examples on: context-adaptive workplans or activity M&E plans, effective use of inception phases, building context-driven adaption or TWP questions into pause and reflect moments, please do send them to him at email@example.com.
TWP CoP Steering Committee member Duncan Green has helped put together a new course; ‘Influencing for Senior Leaders; Analysis, Strategy, and Practice’. Through this course you will sharpen your ability to understand a given context and analyse the network of stakeholders relevant to your leadership challenges. You will understand how this analysis can form the basis of powerful communications strategies that combine public and private influencing techniques in a blend of risk assessment, humanitarian diplomacy, media engagement, and agile responses to unforeseen events. The course is 6 weeks, part-time, and includes a 4-day in person workshop in Amman, Bangkok, Dakar, Nairobi or Panama City. There are no tuition fees associated with this course, and travel and accommodation can be covered for NGOs. For more information, and to register, please click here.
The Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) international research programme, a consortium led by IDS and involving partners across a variety of countries and continents, came to an end in December 2021 after five years of research. The programme explored how social and political action can contribute to empowerment and accountability in settings affected by fragility, conflict, and violence, with a particular focus on Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria and Pakistan, and Egypt. The final report offers new insights into how people experience governance relationships, mobilise to make claims on government authorities, and strategise to demand greater accountability against a backdrop of fragile citizen-state relations. See here for a video interview with Prof. John Gaventa in which he discusses these key findings, which are hugely insightful from a TWP perspective. We are delighted that Sam Sharp from ODI has reviewed this report in the ‘what we’re reading’ section below.
The International Budget Partnership has recently published a series of country briefs on the transparency and accountability of the COVID fiscal response in Burkina Faso, Botswana, Armenia, Uganda, Zambia, and Afghanistan. It also has a range of other publications focused on public accountability, tax equity, budget credibility, collaborative advocacy, global norms, climate finance, equity and justice, and audit accountability.
The Journal of Public Policy is hosting a workshop in September 2022 on the Political Economy of Development. As part of this they have launched a call for papers that address research questions that relate to the field of political economy of development, broadly defined, and that also have policy relevance. They specifically encourage manuscripts that focus on developing country public service provision, bureaucratic performance, foreign aid, citizen-state relations, gender disparities, internal migration, and urbanization although they are open to all areas of PED.
The Cross-Border Conflict Evidence, Policy and Trends (XCEPT) research programme brings together world-leading experts to examine conflict-affected borderlands, how conflicts connect across borders, and the drivers of violent and peaceful behaviour. The programme’s range of publications are interesting from a TWP angle, in particular latest research on 'Community-Driven Approaches to Research in Contexts of Protracted Crisis’, and ‘The Barriers to Southern Yemeni Political Aspirations’. The XCEPT programme also run a series of though-provoking events.
Funded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), the Serious Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Evidence (SOC ACE) Research Programme is a new component in the Anti-Corruption Evidence (ACE) research programme, alongside Global Integrity ACE and SOAS ACE. The programmes’ numerous research projects aim 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. Stay up to date on all the latest news from this programme through twitter: @SOCACE_Research.
Florencia Guerovich and Tom Aston’s 5 part series investigates how to shape and navigate pathways to scale in social accountability. Post 1 explains that scale is a complex change process. Post 2 introduces a “resonance” pathway to scale, with Post 3 focusing on contrasting alternative pathways to scale (best practice and resistance). Post 4 dives into how context shapes pathways to scale in social accountability, and finally, Post 5 argues that politics in the transparency, participation, and accountability field happen in time. Well worth a read for TWP-ers!
What we’re reading
By Samuel Sharp, Senior Research Officer, Democracy, Human Rights and Governance, ODI
‘Against The Odds’ synthesises A4EA’s five years of research into civic action in fragile contexts. Over 220 outputs, focused on four countries (Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria, and Pakistan), summarised in 44 pages.
What’s distinctive about A4EA is its ‘citizen’s eye’ approach. A previous UK-funded IDS-led governance research consortium, the Centre for The Future State, concluded that we need to challenge our OECD mental models of how governance should work. Taking this to heart, A4EA emphasises the need to start by exploring how citizens actually experience governance.
But what insights does a citizen eye approach provide?
In one sense, I don’t think it suggests a revolution in accountability programming. The findings sit firmly within an ‘accountability 2.0’ paradigm – i.e. accountability won’t emerge automatically from more transparency and more information, but needs to be understood within a broader political economy that shapes how citizens make demands and when their voices are heard and why.
The work provides a lot of granularity for understanding the context of accountability demands in fragile settings. On the methods used, for instance, in restricted contexts citizens may more often express accountability demands indirectly, through cultural mediums such as song. On the public authorities people turn to for redress, when the state is distant and lacks legitimacy, citizens may turn to highly localised actors, such as local party officials or customary leaders, or rely on self-protection. And on the issues that spark outrage – safety, security and affordable energy tend to be more salient than service delivery.
TWP devotees will be sympathetic to these findings on the centrality of context. So I sought more challenging insights, and three stood out:
First, how to think politically when starting from the ‘lived experience’ of governance. Some of A4EA’s most interesting work are its methodological innovations, designed to complement a potentially more elite or institutional centric view of governance embodied in political economy analysis. This includes governance diaries – repeated monthly visits and interviews with a sample of households to capture how they engage with public authorities. Or ‘civil society observatories’ - safe spaces for a panel of civil society leaders to periodically reflect on the changing contexts within which they operate. Common to both are the longer timespan, and larger budget, needed to conduct research in this way.
Second, how to refocus on organic civic action and issues of salience. A4EA advocates a ‘working with the grain’ approach, of a kind: the grain of citizen interest, not elite incentives. International actors should start with where there is existing energy, with the issues that spark moral outrage, and strengthen those domestic pressures for change. These are often not the same priority issues or concerns that tend to be the focus of attention in social accountability literature. This echoes other recent research on state legitimacy that emphasises understanding which specific services are salient to perceptions of legitimacy. This is commensurate with a TWP approach, but how many programmes (even those that are intended to be politically smart) offer sufficient flexibility of scope to truly align with what citizens care about?
The final question I was left with was how to merge a citizen centric approach with an understanding of elite responses. A4EA recommends an incremental approach to supporting accountability in fragile settings. So focusing on ‘building blocks’ towards more accountable governance: building trust, increasing visibility, amplifying and connecting nascent action and protecting civic space where possible. The Programme is clearly committed to the power of citizen action to shift power, while it also recognises that gains are often fleeting and can easily be rolled back. But when do they end up being more elusive and rolled back -- and why?
The A4EA programme makes a persuasive case for a ground-up perspective, provides a rich insight into what citizen action despite the obstacles might look like, and outlines a set of innovative approaches to study it further. Future work could fruitfully look at how to merge this ground up perspective with approaches to understanding why these demands are or are not listened to.