PEA Update 7: Working politically and adaptively in practice.

Frameworks for applying political insight in practice.

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/Priya for GESI support. We will aim to publish these every fortnight or so. Watch this space.

This week examines ways of putting PEA in action, i.e. what is the connection between being politically smart and working in an adaptive and iterative way to solve complex development problems and challenges. The list of resources below explores practical issues and focuses on two areas: (a) the interaction between patronage politics, regional and international influences on the country; and (b) the use of selected PE concepts that can enable politically smart, locally led  solutions to challenging development contexts.

It also features a case study of a successful PEA application that illustrates how ‘working politically’ moves from a simple PEA analysis to how it can be applied in different ways into help programmes adapt to their contexts. Therefore, it’s an on-going process of thinking and reflecting on the most effective course of implementation to achieve program objectives and results within the changing political dynamics, and capturing that knowledge in adapted work plans, monitoring and evaluation, reporting, etc.

The two diagrams below (Figure 1 and Figure 2) present a possible framework and sequence for applying PEA, from the ‘thinking’, ‘acting’, and ‘reflecting’ stages of problem diagnosis, through to the ‘adapting’ stage, where any tweaks or changes in response to the diagnosis are made. This requires program operational and management procedures as well as new staff capacities and tasks from what a traditional development program approach might entail.

Figure 1 – A PEA framework
Figure 2 – A PEA sequence

A selection of links:

  • Five practical insights in applying PEA for new comers to the international development field that draws on practical experience with applied political economy in development work.  Plus, a great blog on how to use TWP-PEA to implement and not just to study. 
  • These case studies present successful examples of PEA in practice, and show how developmental change has been successful, despite the odds. They explore how each was successful through adoption of politically smart, locally led approaches, which adapted the way they worked by brokering constructive stakeholder relationships in order to support iterative problem-solving. Also, some practical lessons learnt from other case studies.
  • Although health practitioners may not be calling it ‘adaptive development’, the discourse is applicable. This piece explores the concept of adaptive development and how it can, and is, being employed in the public health environment by asking ‘what does ‘adaptive programming’ mean in the health sector?’

Happy reading; until next time!

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