Reducing hunger and poverty: specific constraints to reform

Photo credit: Google

Integrating political economy analysis into Food Security research

Source: Flickr (M. Mitchell/IFPRI)
From left: Colin Poulton, Laura Pavlovic, Verena Fritz, and Danielle Resnick


Why are seemingly optimal investments and policies for reducing hunger and poverty so difficult to achieve in practice? Although scarce empirical research or insufficient technical capacity may be partially responsible, a lack of political incentives by those with the power to make decisions is often a key reason why it is so difficult to bridge the gap from research to policy reform. At a recent IFPRI policy seminar, speakers representing the research and donor communities discussed the importance of looking at ways to reduce hunger and poverty through this political economy lens.

The donor community has taken a leading role in this type of analysis. In the 1990s, donors began giving greater weight to the importance of “good governance” and gradually recognized that governance was not just an important outcome on its own but played a leading role in the overarching policy process.

By the early 2000s, a few donors began launching political economy analysis, including the UK Department for International Development’s “Drivers of Change” work, the Swedish International Development Agency’s “Power Analysis,” the Netherlands’ “Strategic Governance and Corruption Analysis,” and the US Agency for International Development’s “Democracy and Governance Assessments.” These early approaches were aimed at mainstreaming political thinking within donor agencies and providing contextualized analysis of the countries in which they were working.

More recently donors have moved towards a more practical approach, focusing on specific constraints to reform at the sector and project levels. The World Bank’s problem-driven analysis, which emerged during the past decade, is typical of this approach.

Read the full article: IFPRI

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