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Community Contribution

Experiences with Political Economy Analysis (PEA)


  Some of the PEA's at USAID Missions have included:

Colombia - Local Government Support

  • In December 2014 the DRG Center helped USAID/Colombia to conduct a PEA to broaden understanding of local governance dynamics upon conclusion of a peace agreement.  
  • The analysis helped to identify specific areas where a vacuum was anticipated as a result of demobilization (given services provided by the FARC).
  • One important issue was access to justice, thereby informing the emphasis of the mission’s local governance activity.
  • In addition, the effort helped to identify effective partners--whether government or civil society, in different municipalities, and helped to mitigate risks associated with the activities. The Mission came to consider programming without such an awareness “development malpractice.”

Niger - Participatory Responsive Governance

  • USAID/Niger’s Participatory Responsive Governance (PRG) program is an example of Thinking and Working Politically, where applied PEA was built into the Project Design and Theory of Change.  
  • PRG is working to improve the responsiveness of the Niger government and its citizens to priority public needs in order to mitigate what Nigeriens call a “crisis of confidence” between citizens and the state.
  • The ultimate goal was to bolster stability and governance in one of the world’s most fragile states.

The activity focuses on three prongs:

    1. Making political party campaigns more responsive to priority public needs;
    2. Improved multi-stakeholder (government, non-government, donor, etc.) contributions to priority reforms; and
    3. Developing capacity of local think-tanks, media, NGOs, and civil society to promote participatory governance.
  • PRG has an agreement with the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and local think tank LASDEL to conduct a series of rapid political economy analyses on citizen priority issues. Three short reports have been completed that addressed voter engagement, and issues in the deployment of health workers and teachers.  
  • The analyses resulted in a number of key findings, including:
  • Political activism is inextricably linked to financial incentives--one male youth in Niamey indicated, “when you don’t ‘do’ politics, nobody will give you a job.”  
  • Community organization and action around education is rare; where it exists, it tends to address immediate needs, not systemic issues.
  • Women are increasingly taking jobs as health care workers in Niger.  However with no corresponding decrease in the pressure on these women to prioritize family over career, these women are more likely to apply for transfers from rural urban postings and to be absent from their posts--including during pregnancy, or when facing childcare responsibilities.  
  • Such findings were discussed in multi-stakeholder dialogues to inform PRG’s priorities for advocacy, and downstream policy change over the life of the activity of 3-5 years.
  • PRG is being accompanied by an impact evaluation, which is reported to be the first experimental study on the effect of multi-stakeholder dialogues on local development.

Madagascar - Fisheries Programming

  • In spring 2016, the DRG center supported USAID/Madagascar in conducting a PEA of the fisheries sector.
  • To that point, the Mission had not worked on marine and coastal conservation and natural resource management.  
  • The PEA was instrumental in building the Mission’s understanding of the power dynamics in fisheries management in order to develop a program to best protect these resources while helping communities develop and thrive.
  • The Mission reports that the analysis has been useful in helping to hone in key governance constraints that need to be addressed in the new environmental program, including:  
    • The lack of clear tenure rights protections in the face of in-migration and corruption;
    • Poor or non-existent rule of law that allows private sector to act with impunity in areas that are nominally controlled by communities; and
    • Insecurity of marine and coastal resources to theft and overharvesting.
  • These serious constraints required a program approach that involves additional partners to help communities and provides a counterweight to the rampant government corruption and collusion with bad private sector actors.
  • While still early in its impacts, the PEA put the Mission on the right path in this regard.
  • In combination with other agency work on governance, the PEA, is also informing the Mission's CDCS process as it looks at governance issues across a wide range of sectors and engagement points.

Liberia - (OFDA-funded) Ebola Response

  • Thinking and Working Politically is helping to build the effectiveness of USAID’s emergency response activities.  
  • Mercy Corps, funded by the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), launched the Ebola Community Action Platform (ECAP) in October 2014 in Liberia, just after ebola cases in the country had peaked in number.  
  • ECAP sub granted to 77 local organizations throughout the country that were predominantly community based organizations such as women’s groups, religious groups, and youth organizations.  
  • While the partners’ experience with health varied, each was able to define and shift its mobilization strategy as long as it was aligned with the common goal of influencing community knowledge and behavior related to ebola.  
  • ECAP also established a nation-wide monitoring and learning platform that in effect was TWP.  Mercy Corps distributed 1,000 mobile phones to partners’ community mobilizers, for reporting on their activities on on community attitudes, knowledge and behavior.  
  • This data fed into an online dashboard and was the basis for lessons-learned workshops involving both Mercy Corps and the local partners.  
  • This helped partners make changes to their approaches over the course of the program, including shifting geographic focus to emerging hot spots, changing schedule to reach farming households, and shifting to more creative forms of community engagement such as puppetry, when the benefit of door-to-door visits waned.  
  • It also supported partners in knowing when to shift messages, in order to address issues such as stigma, when basic knowledge about ebola was more widespread, and cases were waning.
Monitoring, Evaluating, Learning...and Sensing Context Power Dynamics and Project Design Context-Driven Adaptive Solicitations and Awards
Adapting in Practice Experiences with Political Economy Analysis (PEA) Videos and Webinars


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