TWP CoP November Newsletter
Welcome to our November 2021 newsletter. This edition features an interview with Wilf Mwamba, a review of 'The Afghan Papers' by Diana Cammack, and much more. We hope you enjoy it and happy reading!
Dear Friends and fellow travellers on all things TWP,
Welcome to the second edition of the TWP CoP newsletter. Our ‘highlight feature’ this time is an interview with Wilf Mwamba, a governance expert with many years of experience working with the FCDO and now USAID, discussing his TWP journey. Diana Cammack tells us about what she has been reading. And the newsletter highlights recent and upcoming events that we think sound particularly interesting from a TWP perspective, as well as publications and other resources and opportunities on all things TWP.
We hope you find it an inspiring and fruitful read. We encourage you to open the newsletter in Substack by clicking directly on the ‘TWP CoP November Newsletter’ header, at the top of this page, so that you get full access to all the content.
As always, we also very much welcome all your inputs and ideas, and we particularly look forward to hear from those who may be relatively newcomers to global TWP. If there is anything you would like to share with us, including items to include in future newsletters, please get in touch with us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please share this newsletter with others who might be interested too, and don’t forget to click the subscribe button (above) if you have not subscribed already!
With all best wishes,
Alina & Graham
For this highlight feature, we had the pleasure of interviewing Wilf Mwamba on his TWP journey.
Wilf has worked in international development for over 20 years, gaining experience in Sierra Leone, Nigeria, DRC, and Zambia. As a seasoned governance specialist, he is passionate about advancing thinking and working politically to achieve development goals. He started his international development career as a Governance Adviser at DFID and served as a Senior Governance Adviser and Team Leader at FCDO. As part of this, Wilf was the first Senior Responsible Officers for the Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL) a five-year public-sector accountability and governance programme in Nigeria. (If you’re interested in this work, please check the events and publications sections below, as there is a lot of relevant material from PERL we have highlighted in this edition of the Newsletter). Following his work at FCDO, Wilf joined DAI as the Deputy Chief of Party for the USAID Local Governance Activity in Zambia.
We had originally intended to keep this interview to 10 minutes, but the discussion was so interesting and exciting that it is just under half an hour! We hope you enjoy it, and we are very eager to hear what you think if you would like to leave a comment below! (Subtitles available). However, we also appreciate how busy everyone is, so we bring you the highlights from the interview in condensed form below.
Wilf ‘s TWP journey began when he was working as a community mobiliser building schools in Zambia, and it became obvious to him very early on that everything revolved around politics. He joined DFID during the age of drivers of change, and this gave him a framework to be able to think through the role of politics in development in a more rigorous and systematic way .
Wilf explains that when he started working in Nigeria, he saw the importance of understanding the context, knowing the players, and understanding incentives through PEA.
Alina asked Wilf for an example of TWP at work, and he talked about a DFID/FCDO project he was involved in in DRC. He explained how TWP enabled his team to facilitate constructive conversations around the use of voter machines in elections. On the surface, a very technical issue opened up an important space to bring stakeholders together to discuss deeper issues, with himself/FCDO playing a facilitator in the background, encouraging consensus building. Wilf talked about the kind of enabling environment which allowed him and his team to work in this way. Some of the factors he highlighted, which will sound familiar to many in the TWP community, included developing relationships built on trust and an open and frank exchange of views which allowed debate within DFID and FCO, recognising and understanding different incentives, and having strong relationships with their Congolese counterparts.
For Wilf, some of the areas in which TWP has gained most traction is through broad acceptance amongst international development actors about the centrality of politics to development, greater investment in the tools for TWP, such as political economy frameworks, and growing focus on respecting local expertise and contextualising approaches to addressing development challenges.
As for where further work is needed for TWP uptake, Wilf highlighted that we need to focus less on the tools and more on the application and substance of TWP on the ground, that donors need to have more flexibility to change and adapt programmes, and that we need to find new ways of measuring progress, which move beyond payments by results and focus more on long-term goals.
In closing, Alina asked Wilf to share some words of advice with fellow travellers on the TWP journey. His response: 1) A lot of this stuff is about your instincts, common sense. It’s all about really getting to know your context, the people, the cultures, the country, and really embracing that. 2) Make sure to know the difference between thinking and working politically, and thinking and working patronisingly. It’s very different studying a context, versus living in it. So we must make sure we have the humility to know that learning is ongoing, and that the more we know, the more we realise we don’t know.
October: The ODI-led Learning, Evidence and Advocacy Partnership (LEAP) of the FCDO-funded Partnership to Engage, Reform, and Learn (PERL) organised a webinar series to share lessons emerging from 20 years of UK investment in governance reform in Nigeria. Events in the series included:
Tuesday 5th October: How does governance reform happen? Lessons from Nigeria - This session presented the findings of research into how the UK government partnered with four Northern Nigerian States (Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano and Yobe) and worked with government officials, parliaments, civil society and the media. Together, they sought to reform the design and implementation of policies and budgets, with the hope of improving health and education outcomes as a result.
Tuesday 12th October: Working Politically in Practice: Lessons from Nigeria - This event, co-convened by the TWP CoP, explored how donor-supported efforts to promote governance reform can work in ways that are politically smart and anchored in learning and adaptation.
Tuesday 19th October: Does better governance lead to improved health and education? Lessons from Nigeria - This session explored whether and how reforms to state-level policy, planning and budgeting, accompanied by greater civil society engagement, have contributed to improvements in health and education in Nigeria.
Tuesday 19th October: Global Britain for an Open World? Examining the importance of open societies to the UK’s ‘force for good’ ambitions - This event, hosted by The Foreign Policy Centre and Westminster Foundation for Democracy, was organised to launch the publication ‘Global Britain for an Open World?’ which features a chapter written by Graham Teskey and Tom Wingfield on ‘Bringing politics back in: The implications of the FCDO’s focus on open societies for diplomacy and development’.
Wednesday 3rd November: Cutting Edge Issues in Development - Making Anti-Corruption Effective: A New Approach - This event, hosted by LSE and chaired by Duncan Green, is part of the ‘Cutting Edge Issues in Development Thinking and Practice 2021-2022’ event series. It featured Mustaq Khan, Professor of Economics at SOAS, and Executive Director of the FCDO-funded Anti-Corruption Evidence Research Consortium (ACE), speaking about feasible anti-corruption measures. Drawing on five case studies from SOAS-ACE, Prof. Khan highlighted why anti-corruption initiatives based on transparency and accountability have fared poorly, and stressed the importance of horizontal monitoring and internal support for enforcement.
Thursday 4th November: A New Vision for Global Development - This event, hosted by Georgetown University, features USAID Administrator Samantha Power speaking about the future of global development. Please note, recording starts 11 minutes in to the video.
Wednesday 24th November, 17:00-18:00pm GMT: The Political Economy of Nigeria: challenges and opportunity for reform - The Oxford Martin School will be hosting Professor Kingsley Moghalu, who is a visiting fellow at the Oxford Martin School and a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, to discuss ways in which Nigeria can transform economically and politically.
Monday 6th December onwards: Decentralization and Local Development in Sub-Saharan Africa - The Local Public Sector Alliance—in collaboration with the World Bank Subnational Governance and Decentralization Global Solutions Group, UNDP, UNCDF, and a number of other global partners—will convene a series of knowledge sharing events on decentralization and local development. To see the full programme, and to sign up, please click here.
Thursday 9th December - Friday 10th December: The Summit for Democracy - Led by President Biden, the US government will host a virtual summit for leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector to revitalise democracy. The summit will focus on challenges and opportunities facing democracies and will provide a platform for leaders to make both individual and collective commitments to defend democracy and human rights in the US and abroad. As the program for the Summit takes shape, additional information will be made available through the State Department website.
Monday 7th March - Thursday 18th March 2022: The World Bank Fragility Forum - After being cancelled in March 2020 because of the Covid pandemic, 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.
Training, Learning Opportunities & Other Resources
The Policy Practice and ODI will be hosting their ‘Political Economy Analysis in Action Training Course’ from Monday 21st February - Friday 24 June 2022. The 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, and/or programme design and implementation. For more information, and to sign up, please click here.
Development Entrepreneurship Online Programme - this programme, organised by The Asia Foundation in partnership with the Australian Embassy through its Coalition for Change (CfC) Program, explores the tools and principles of Development Entrepreneurship (DE), and how DE can help with creating and implementing policy reforms. For more information, please click here.
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.
Other Resources and initiatives:
The GovLab at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, The Asia Foundation, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Indonesia, and the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development have launched the “Governance” domain of their 100 Questions Initiative, to identify the ten most pressing, impactful governance questions which data and data science have the potential to help address. To help decide what the final ten questions should be, please vote here. Voting closes on Friday 31st December, 2021.
The World Resources Institute has put together a short introductory guide to the ‘Principles for Locally Led Adaption’. These principles, which were developed by the Global Commission on Adaptation and have been endorsed by 70+ organisations, are intended to guide the adaptation community as it moves programmes, funding, and practices towards adaptation that is increasingly owned by local partners.
Any other opportunities coming up or relevant resources that you may know about? Please let us know!
Adam Hug and Devin O’Shaughnessy, eds. ‘Global Britain for an open world? Examining the importance of open societies to the UK’s “force for good” ambitions’, The Foreign Policy Centre and WFD, October 2021.
Open societies around the world and the international system that supports them are under growing threat. This publication provides detailed analysis and practical ideas for how the UK can meet this challenge with a ‘renewed commitment to (being) a force for good in the world-defending openness, democracy and human rights’ necessary for ‘shaping the open international order of the future’.
Within this publication, Graham Teskey and Tom Wingfield have written a chapter on ‘Bringing politics back in: The implications of the FCDO’s focus on open societies for diplomacy and development’, which may be of particular interest to TWP readers.
Alan Hudson, ‘Alan’s explorations: An evolving map of inspiring connections’, Global Integrity, November 2021.
In this blog post, Alan offers short reviews and links to some reads on open governance he has found most inspiring over the past month.
Alexandre Marc and Bruce Jones, ‘The New Geopolitics of Fragility; Russia, China, and the mounting challenge for peacebuilding’, Brookings Institution, October 2021.
In this article, Marc and Jones argue that fragile states are increasingly becoming an arena for geopolitical competition amongst ‘new’ powers, challenging many of the approaches to peace building and improvement of governance and accountability that international actors in the West have elaborated over the last two decades. The authors call on Western actors to improve their own coordination and effectiveness, and to back strong multilateral partnerships that can pressure “new” powers to improve the quality and accountability of their interventions.
Anastasia Kapetas, ‘How should the US confront state fragility and democratic decline?’, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, October 2021.
In this article Kapetas discusses the need to work more politically in fragile and conflict affected states, and she also takes a look at what role the US can play in confronting both state fragility and democratic decline in light of the upcoming Democracy Summit, scheduled for 9-10 December this year.
Arbie Baguios, Maia King, Alex Martins, Rose Pinnington, ‘Are we there yet? Localisation as the journey towards locally led practice’, ODI, October 2021.
This paper reviews the barriers and challenges to localisation and locally led practice, with a view to informing a campaign for systemic change. It offers four key recommendations: 1) Learn from and accelerate initiatives that already exist – especially from the Global South, 2) Transfer greater resources, including by tackling root causes of risk aversion and redesigning funding flows, 3) Reduce encroachment of local actors’ agency and respect their ways of being by rethinking organisational roles (and stepping back if appropriate) and shifting one’s mindset, 4) Let Global South actors lead the campaign to promote localisation and locally led practice.
Frances Z. Brown, ‘Aiding Afghan Local Governance: What went wrong?’, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, November 2021.
Brown notes 3 key short comings of local governance assistance to Afghanistan including: 1) Donors made false assumptions about government-citizen communication and linkages, assuming ‘Afghans needed to be taught how to talk to one another’, 2) Building capacity without defined roles or authorities, 3) Western efforts concentrated on enhancing skills that would make Afghans ideal recipients of donor aid, rather than strengthening capabilities more relevant to local Afghan political life. Brown explores the lessons learned from these failures.
Gareth Williams, Clare Cummings, and Sunny Kulutuye, ‘The Impact of UK Governance Programming in Nigeria: Education Reforms in Kaduna (2009-2020)’, Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL), August 2021.
This case study analyses improvements to primary education in Kaduna State, between 2009– 2020 before the COVID-19 school closures. It considers the broad trajectory of education reforms in Kaduna State, and the specific contribution of PERL and other UK governance and education programmes. The study finds evidence of important improvements to service delivery, including large increases in primary school enrolment and completion rates, particularly for girls.
Gareth Williams, Nasir Ingawa, Dr. Uzochukwu Amakom and Abbas Muhammed, ‘The Impact of UK Governance Programming in Nigeria: Budget Reforms in Yobe State (2011-2020)’, Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL), August 2021.
This case study assesses the contribution and impact of support from the UK funded governance programmes which have supported budget processes in Yobe State in Nigeria. The experience provides lessons on what has worked, what hasn’t and why. The analysis finds evidence of important improvements in budget processes in Yobe, which have been in part enabled by UK development efforts despite a challenging context of protracted conflict and insecurity.
Helen Derbyshire and Gareth Williams, ‘Effective Collaboration Between Governance and Sector Programmes - Assessment of the evidence on what works’, Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL), October 2021.
Over the past two decades, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and its predecessor, the Department for International Development (DFID), have encouraged close collaboration between their governance, health, and education programmes. This report assesses the extent of this collaboration, and where and when it has been effective.
Juha Leppanen, ‘The Climate Crisis is a Governance Crisis’, Demos Helsinki, October 2021.
Writing from COP26, Leppanen argues that to solve the climate crisis we need both individual and institutional transformation. To effectively combine both, we need to re-engage with the role of governance. Leppanen argues governance is the missing link between individual empowerment, coherent transformations, meaningful policies, and action of sufficient scale to tackle the climate crisis.
Laure-Hélène Piron, Clare Cummings, Gareth Williams, Helen Derbyshire, and Sierd Hadley, with Sunny Kulutuye, Imrana Alhaji Buba, and Suwaiba Said Ahmad, ‘Twenty years of UK governance programmes in Nigeria: achievements, challenges, lessons, and implications for future support’, ODI, October 2021.
This report identifies the contextual factors and causal mechanisms that help explain how UK governance interventions have contributed to improving governance, health and education outcomes in Nigeria over the past two decades. The report shares how the UK government partnered with four Northern Nigerian States and worked with government officials, parliaments, civil society and the media to reform how policies and budgets are prepared and implemented. Drawing on lessons emerging from twenty years of UK investment in governance in Nigeria, the report puts forward 15 recommendations to improve governance and development programmes within FCDO and beyond.
Leonardo Arriola, Martha Johnson, and Melanie Phillips, ‘Women and Power in Africa; Aspiring, Campaigning, and Governing’, Oxford University Press, September 2021.
This book looks at how women in African countries participate in party nominations, election campaigns, and governance, and examines women’s access to and exercise of political power across the continent. The book provides a gendered perspective on critical topics including campaign strategies amid clientelism, party institutionalisation, and political violence.
Mariella Gonzales, ‘The Political Economy of Government Audits’, University of Chicago, September 2021.
Institutional reforms that provide voters with negative information about politicians lead to electoral penalties. In this paper, Gonzales asks the question, ‘do politicians strategically respond when confronted with this type of potential electoral backlash?’. Through an analysis of anti-corruption audits in Brazil, the author shows that these audits lead to an increase in the number of public employees hired by the mayor. She finds that, overall, patronage enables politicians to offset the potential electoral penalty of audits by hiring employees who do not contribute much to public goods production.
Michael Penfold, Andrés García Trujillo, and Alejandro Urrutia, ‘The Scope for Dialogue with Security Forces in Hybrid Regimes’, IFIT Discussion Paper, Institute for Integrated Transitions, October 2021.
This discussion paper offers analysis of 1) the typical sources of resilience of hybrid regimes, 2) the mechanisms used by ruling parties to gain control or secure the loyalty of security forces, and 3) how civic and democratic forces can overcome common dilemmas when attempting to engage security sector actors in such contexts.
Naomi Hossain, John Agbonifo, Martin Atela, John Gaventa, Euclides Goncalves, Umair Javed, Neil McCulloch, Davide Natalini, Marjoke Oosterom, Ayobami Ojebode, and Alex Shankland, ‘Demanding Power: Do Protests Empower Citizens to Hold Governments Accountable over Energy?’, IDS Working Paper, Volume 2021, Number 555. Institute of Development Studies, September 2021.
Using evidence from Mozambique, Nigeria, and Pakistan, this research asks how, and under what conditions, struggles over energy access in fragile and conflict affected settings empower the powerless to hold public authorities to account. In exploring this theme, the study examines what factors support protests developing into significant episodes of contention within fragile settings, and whether these energy struggles promote citizen empowerment and institutional accountability.
Neil McCulloch, ‘Queuing for petrol in Bath and Beirut’, The Policy Practice, October 2021.
This blog explores some of the surprising similarities in the political economy of fuel pricing in the UK and in Lebanon in light of the recent fuel shortage crisis in both countries.
Niki Palmer, ‘International Development must be politically smart to deliver climate goals’, The Policy Practice, November 2021.
Climate change is a political and not a technical challenge. In this blog, Niki Palmer highlights that radical changes are needed to the way that aid is provided, including replacing rigid financing models with more adaptive methods, able to respond to complex local politics.
OECD OPSI, European Commission, ‘Public Sector Innovation Facets; Innovation Portfolios’, October 2021.
This report argues that public sector organisations are experimenting with innovation portfolio methods, but further work on tools and methods is needed to update innovation portfolio management in the public sector.
Serena Cocciolo, Sushmita Samaddar, and Stephen Okiya, ‘What we’ve been reading on incentives in public procurement’, World Bank Blogs, November 2021.
This blog discusses empirical evidence on the incentives associated with: (i) contract value thresholds, (ii) audit processes, (iii) effectiveness of courts, and (iv) vendor rating systems.
Samuel Sharp, Tochukwu Nwachukwu, Sripriya Iyengar Srivatsa, ‘Lessons Learned from PERL and Partners’ Response to the COVID-19 Crisis’, Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL), March 2021.
This report reflects on how COVID-19 changed the operating context for PERL’s partners, how PERL responded and what lessons have been learned across delivery teams.
Thomas Aston, Chris Roche, Marta Schaaf, Sue Cant, ‘Monitoring and evaluation for thinking and working politically’, Evaluation, October 2021.
This article explores the challenges of monitoring and evaluating politically informed and adaptive programmes in the field of international development. The authors suggest that those methods which assume generative causality are particularly well suited to the task. They also argue that factoring in the politics of uncertainty and evidence generation and use is particularly important in order to recognize and value diverse experiential knowledge, integrate understandings of the local context, accommodate adaption, and grapple with the power relations inherent in evaluation processes.
What we’re reading:
This edition’s featured reader is Diana Cammack, Senior Research Associate, ODI. She reviews:
The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War by Craig Whitlock and The Washington Post (Simon & Schuster, 2021, 368pp.)
Over twenty years ago, I wrote that the often ‘hidden and unacknowledged... relationship between the political military agenda and the [Afghan] humanitarian program [is] under- explored, but…. important because it affect(s) the choice, design and implementation of relief projects.' This new book further proves this point.
The book focuses on secret, “Lessons Learned” interviews with senior officials who worked and served in Afghanistan during America's twenty-year conflict there that journalists from the Washington Post uncovered through the US Freedom of Information Act. The journalists were able to access (and publicly archive) over 600 confidential interviews with military officers (mostly American, but allied officials as well), politicians, diplomats, aid workers, donors, and other senior informants. The book also draws on the private archives of other players (for example President George W Bush). While officials gave the public a story of success regarding the war effort in Afghanistan, the book shows that these very same people were conveying the opposite in secret interviews, memos, and reports.
But the USD$2T Afghan adventure was more than a war; it was also an aid programme. The book covers the way funds were used to support development, 'nation building' and 'winning hearts and minds' of the people of Afghanistan, which came to be seen as prerequisites to winning the war against the Taliban. Governance efforts included tackling corruption (exacerbated by aid/war funding) and drug smuggling (in a country reliant on poppy cultivation); creating core state organisations such as an army, a police force and a judiciary; and holding free, fair and inclusive elections. None of these can be considered successful.
To anyone trained in TWP, the ‘Lessons Learned’ interviews whether about aid, governance, or security, are a provoking read. The book provides detailed examples of how not to think & work politically. The interviews highlight, for example, that outside experts didn't understand Afghan society, and that staff in donor and implementing partner organisations rotated in and out on short assignments, which meant that they left just as they were beginning to learn a bit about the place. Few spoke a local language, and their training was as likely to be about Iraq or another conflict setting as it was to be Afghanistan. Many international development staff were unable to travel to insecure areas for which they were designing projects. Aid was ill-coordinated, so the military had little idea what USAID was doing in areas where it operated, and vice versa. And because the military dominated the whole arena, it set short time horizons and skewed programme objectives.
The papers in the Washington Post archive deserve a good rummage by TWP specialists with knowledge of the Afghan programme. In the meantime, others should pick up the book too as it offers a quick insight into the ways in which more than $2 trillion was spent with little to show for it in the end.
 Diana Cammack, 'Gender, Relief and Politics during the Afghan War', in Engendered Forced Migration, Doreen Indra, ed. (1999).
 To access the archives, please visit https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/documents-database/
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The TWP CoP is supported by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.