World Development Report 2017: Governance and the Law

In his foreword the World Bank President states: “The global development community needs to move beyond asking ‘What is the right policy?’ and instead ask ‘What makes policies work to produce life-improving outcomes?’ The answer put forward in this year’s World Development Report is better governance—that is, the ways in which governments, citizens, and communities engage to design and apply policies.”

The World Bank is restrained in its use of the term ‘political economy’, but that is what the substance of this WDR is, along with an examination of the role of law in reflecting values and interests, and shaping behaviour.

The valuable report sets out a six-step approach to what it calls the policy effectiveness cycle linking diagnosis to action and learning, and proposes the use of a number of concepts with explanatory and prescriptive power. The six steps (with associated concepts in brackets) are:

  • Step 1. Diagnose. Identify the underlying functional problem (commitment, coordination, cooperation).
  • Step 2. Assess. Identify the nature of power asymmetries in the policy arena (exclusion, capture, clientelism).
  • Step 3. Target. Identify the relevant entry point(s) for reform (contestability, incentives, preferences and beliefs).
  • Step 4. Design. Identify the best mechanism for intervention.
  • Step 5. Implement. Identify key stakeholders needed to build a coalition for implementation (elites, citizens, international actors).
  • Step 6. Evaluate and adapt.

The report includes an accessible 35-page overview.

Institutional and Context Analysis: Guidance Note

The Institutional and Context Analysis Guidance Note is UNDP’s methodology for undertaking political economy analysis to support development programmes. The Guidance Note has emerged as a direct response to demand from Country Offices for a resource that helps UNDP staff understand the political and institutional context in which they operate in a way that is suited to the needs and mandate of the organization. It offers practical guidance to UNDP Country Offices on how to use ICA to assess the enabling environment.

The term ‘institutional and context analysis’ refers to analyses that focus on political and institutional factors, as well as processes concerning the use of national and external resources in a given setting and how these have an impact on the implementation of UNDP programmes and policy advice. An ICA is envisioned as an input to programming that focuses on how different actors in society, who are subject to an assortment of incentives and constraints, shape the likelihood of programme success.

This Guidance Note offers ideas on undertaking country level ICA to develop a Country Programme (Chapter 1) and conducting an ICA at the sector or project level (Chapter 2).

Thinking and Acting Politically Supporting citizen engagement in governance: The experience of the State Accountability and Voice Initiative in Nigeria

This paper has been written to share some of the working methods, lessons and insights emerging from the State Accountability and Voice Initiative’s (SAVI) experience and to contribute to debates on effective governance programming within DFID. It shows to what extent SAVI, building on lessons learned in programmes funded by DFID Nigeria over the past decade, is succeeding in supporting more responsive state governance, and how a sustained pattern of constructive engagement between citizens and state governments is beginning to emerge.

Collective action and the deployment of teachers in Niger: a political economy analysis

ODI abstract

The deployment of teachers in Niger is not based on teachers’ preferred location, so it is very common for teachers to request a transfer to a different school. Most teachers prefer to work in urban schools, where the facilities are better, it is easier to study whilst working and there are more opportunities for extra work in private schools.

This poses a significant problem for the education system as a whole and for the education of children in rural areas, in particular. Through a political economy analysis, this briefing paper explores the causes of the problem of inequitable teacher deployment, the power and motivations of different actors to address this problem, and whether collective action might play a role in its resolution.

The resulting study, involving both desk and field research, makes a number of key findings and recommendations about the problem of teacher deployment and the opportunity for using collective action:

  • The system of teacher deployment and distribution is undermined by the personal interest of teachers
  • There is a lack of incentives for administrators or political leaders to uphold the formal rules of teacher deployment and distribution.
  • There is a lack of regulations, accountability mechanisms and sanctions governing the distribution of teachers.

The supply and distribution of essential medicines in Malawi

This paper summarises the findings of a brief political economy analysis of the procurement, supply and distribution of essential medicines in Malawi.

It uses a sectoral political economy framework that provides a more structured form of analysis, working through various stages, including identifying the nature of the problem to be addressed; diagnosing systemic features and key dynamics and incentives; and pinpointing policy options and feasible theories of change.

Key issues identified in the paper include: (1) the role of political patronage in staff appointments and award of supply contracts, (2) the institutional vacuum caused by incoherent and poorly implemented decentralisation policy, (3) ineffective bottom-up monitoring by service users, and (4) donors funding parallel supply systems adds to incoherence. The recommendations of the study centre on strengthening policy coherence and performance monitoring.

The political economy of regional integration in Africa The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Report

This report presents the findings of a political economy analysis of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). It focuses on what drives or constrains this regional organisation in particular sectors such as regional industrialisation, the development of a regional energy market, and Transfrontier Conservation Areas. This report is part of a broader study that also includes the African Union and four other Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in Africa.

This study provides a political economy explanation of the implementation gap – the gap between high level policy statements and actual progress in regional integration. The chapter on industrial and trade policy highlights the role of South Africa, which has used its dominant position in SADC to maintain its protectionist trade policy. A key issue raised by this study is the overreliance on donor funding (79% of SADC budget), which risks distorting SADC’s agenda and undermining accountability to member states.

Political Economy of Climate Change

This edition of IDS Bulletin contains 13 articles on the political economy of climate change. The papers analyse the interests of different players, which create disagreement, but also scope for finding consensual solutions. Several of articles analyse the incentives created by particular climate change financing instruments (Green Climate Fund, Adaptation Fund, PPCR, REDD++) and power relations shaping the allocation of these funds. Several case studies also examine the political economy issues that arise when global policy commitments are applied at the national level.

IDS Bulletin abstract

Despite the inherently political nature of international negotiations on climate change, much of the theory, debate, evidence-gathering and implementation linking climate change and development assume a largely apolitical and linear policy process. As the issue continues to dominate agendas, it is timely to propose a new political economy of climate change and development in which explicit attention is given to the way that ideas, power and resources are conceptualised, negotiated and implemented by different groups at different scales.

We argue that in balancing effectiveness, efficiency and equity, climate change initiatives must explicitly recognise the political economy of their inputs, processes and outcomes. Political economy is defined here as the processes by which ideas, power and resources are conceptualised, negotiated and implemented by different groups at different scales. In applying this definition to climate change and development, we broaden the analysis from state-focused environmental politics to encompass interactions between the state, non-state actors. The growing importance of climate change in the development arena and the frequent assumption of linear policymaking and apolitical, techno-managerial solutions make the development of a new political economy emphasis vital to determining efficient, equitable and effective responses.

Reforming the roads sector in Uganda: a six-year retrospective

This paper seeks to evaluate reforms of the institutional framework governing the national road network in Uganda following an earlier study of the ‘CrossRoads’ programme commissioned in 2009 (Booth and Golooba-Mutebi, 2009). Positive changes are attributed to increased public spending on roads and various measures undertaken under the CrossRoads programme, especially a parallel bid evaluation system to improve the contracting of roads work and interventions to address market failures hindering the emergence of a locally owned roads industry. Setbacks and missed opportunities are linked to a misconceived approach to deepening institutional reform at the Ministry of Works and Transport and limitations of the instruments selected by CrossRoads for promoting change in the policy environment (including timely legislation) and addressing the deep-seated organizational and collective action challenges in the sector (including active support to upgrading the capabilities of firms). These areas of unfinished business are intrinsically very challenging. They also correspond to blind spots in the market systems improvement (Making Markets Work for the Poor) approach and weaknesses in conventional donor thinking about ‘advocacy’.

In order to address these weaknesses, future external support to the Uganda roads sector should recognize the need to break new ground in terms of methods as well as objectives. The funding and contracting modality should not just permit flexible responses to unforeseen opportunities and difficulties. It should also explicitly encourage an adaptive programme approach, as permitted by the ‘smart rules’ the Department for International Development recently adopted.

Barriers to Political Analysis in Aid Bureaucracies: From Principle to Practice in DFID and the World Bank

Politics has become a central concern in development discourse, and yet the use of political analysis as a means for greater aid effectiveness remains limited and contested within development agencies. This article uses qualitative data from two governance “leaders” – the United Kingdom Department for International Development and the World Bank – to analyze the administrative hurdles facing the institutionalization of political analysis in aid bureaucracies. We find that programing, management, and training practices across headquarters and country offices remain largely untouched by a political analysis agenda which suffers from its identification with a small cross-national network of governance professionals.