This blog forms part of a series of internal Political Economy Analysis (PEA) updates compiled by Priya Chattier/Tara Davda, with general wisdom by Graham Teskey and Lavinia Tyrrel. Thanks to Leisa Gibson (and Priya) for GESI support. We will aim to publish these every fortnight or so. Watch this space.
It’s all about the framing
A major critique of PEA has been that it highlights constraints to aid effectiveness without necessarily offering solutions. To be relevant and actionable, political analysis needs to identify tangible entry points, and be integrated into programming right from the design stage. In this way, PEA is best conceived not as a one-off consultancy input or study, but as an internal, transformative process to encourage donor officials to ‘think and work politically’ every day.
The PEA discourse notes that for programs to be operationally relevant, PEA analytical frameworks draw from upon a mix of analytical tools to better understand how politics and economics intersect to solve a particular development problem by designing and implementing politically responsive programs.
PEA has to date largely ignored the politics of gender, exclusion and power, and this is slowly changing. Gender analysis is an intersectional examination of how power is distributed between women, girls, men, boys and other genders, and who can use that power to influence and control policy, systems and outcomes. The majority of political, social and economic systems exclude women and girls – particularly those from certain ethnic and racial groups as well as those with disabilities – from power structures. This fundamentally affects the way that power is distributed and used. Its essential that gender and social inclusion be considered in PEA, and that we adapt existing tools to this end.
- What kinds of issues and ingredients are often included in a PEA?
PEA is a formal process, but also a way of understanding why change is happening (or not happening). To think politically, one must understand the political economy environment at the country level, i.e., the drivers of change– structure, institutions and agency
PEA can be conducted at various levels – see here
- Country level PEA studies
- Sector level PEA studies, see also this Briefing Note by Teskey et al on how PEA to education and health sector programming is applied in 13 Countries in Asia, Africa and the Pacific.
- Problem driven PEA within a sector
- Key literature on cross-section of examples across different contexts and analysis at country, sector and program level.
Critical first step in a PEA is defining the problem, led by local actors.
What tools are out there to help us conduct a PEA?
- PEA checklist for development programs – here
- See also UNDP institutional and context analysis guidance note on methodology.
- Sample PEA interview Q’s – here
- Note taking template- here
Challenges to conducting PEA:
- What’s missing and why it maters? (Only if you are really keen!)
- Myth busters
- Limitations with current tools: e.g. the use of logical frameworks in complex environments. What if the problem isn’t linear? i.e. We don’t know where we are going or how to get there.
- Donor politics of development
Finally – suggest you print off the DLP ‘Everyday Political Analysis’ seven page brief and keep it by your desk. If you do you will be doing PEA every day…