Learn4dev is a competence development network, linking bilateral and multilateral organisations that are committed to more effective and harmonised development aid. Learn4Dev offers training and dialogue in key areas of international development to strengthen competences and achieve optimal results.
To equip development practitioners with an action-oriented introduction to the key elements of political economy analysis (PEA) and identify possible actions to enable them to make development cooperation more effective by adopting a Political Economy perspective and by working “politically-smart”.
We conducted 3-day learning events on ‘Political Economy for Practitioners’. The learning events and all related teaching and learning materials were developed by the members of the Learn4Dev Expert Group Political Economy for Practitioners together with the MDF trainer team.
The learning events took a practical approach to political economy analysis – using a specific problem as a starting point for analysis – to help identify feasible entry points for reform, based on a thorough understanding of the implications of particular power relations and incentives. There are a number of important factors in the implementation of reform processes. First, recognise the power of ideas and avoid becoming limited by a focus on tools. Second, acknowledge the value of an upfront investment in analysis, but encourage the use of PEA in an iterative way through regular strategic reviews. Third, look for ways to bring political analysis into everyday work.
The joint learning events provided practitioners with a stimulus for their own analytical thinking on the contested issues. The approach of the event was informal and intentionally non-definitive as there is no right or wrong. To date, the course has been delivered on five occasions, there are plans to offer more learning events, also in French and Spanish.
Participants left with the understanding that, ultimately, political economy analysis, and thinking and working politically, is not about tools or approaches. It is a way of thinking about development. Development is not something that aid agencies do, it is a locally driven political process in which the interests, power and actions of local actors are key. Donors may be able to manoeuvre politically and help shape development outcomes, while not getting in the way. It is all l about understanding politics and political behaviour.