Achieving sustainable governance transitions

November 2011 to November 2015

This project will focus on understanding how a range of political and governance factors/conditions affect development outcomes or, in other words, the incentives, behaviour and institutional features which can enhance or inhibit the achievement of outcomes in transition contexts.

To be able to capture the range of transmission belts between governance and the outcomes that matter for peace- and state-building and economic reconstruction, the work will focus on the provision of a range of public goods and services.

The main objectives of the project are:

  • To deepen understanding of the incentives and institutional dynamics which affect the provision of public goods and services at different steps of the delivery chain
  • To support external actors to engage meaningfully with domestic political processes which improve public goods and service provision
  • To provide sector specialists with practical guidance on how programmes can respond more effectively to common governance constraints and opportunities

The key questions it sets out to address are:

  • What political economy features can explain variation in the delivery of public goods and services?
  • In light of this, how can public goods and service provision be sustainably improved in transition contexts?
  • How can external actors adopt more realistic and politically informed approaches, strategies and programmes when supporting public goods and services in transition contexts?


Service characteristics and engagement with citizens

Research reports and studies | March 2015 | Richard Batley and Joseph Wales
Despite significant progress in a range of public services over the past two decades, in many developing countries the average citizen continues to suffer from gaps in provision and poor performance of even the most basic services. This briefing note aims to provide...

Services in the city: governance and political economy in urban service delivery

Research reports and studies | December 2014 | Harry Jones, Clare Cummings and Hamish Nixon
Improving service delivery for the urban poor is an urgent priority. By 2030, the worldwide urban population is expected to grow by 1.4 billion people, with city and town dwellers accounting for 60% of the total world population. This discussion paper reviews...

Stock-outs of essential medicines in Tanzania: a political economy approach to analysing problems and identifying solutions

Research reports and studies | May 2014 | Joseph Wales, Julia Tobias, Emmanuel Malangalila, Godfrey Swai and Leni Wild
Shortages of essential medicines in public health facilities are a major issue in Tanzania that has persisted despite increasing attention to these issues and numerous reform attempts and initiatives. Resolving the problem of stock-outs will not be achieved by any one...

Fragmented governance and local service delivery in Malawi

Research reports and studies | May 2014 | Tam O’Neil and Diana Cammack with Edge Kanyongolo, Moir Walita Mkandawire, Tuntufye Mwalyambwire, Bryn Welham and Leni Wild
Ahead of local council elections in May 2014, this study helps government and donors to understand how local government and service delivery work and to assess whether the return of local councils is likely to improve their functioning.

Analysing the politics of public services: a service characteristics approach

Research reports and studies | April 2014 | Richard Batley and Daniel Harris
The service characteristics approach, described in this paper, was developed as a tool to explain the political dynamics of particular services. It has been tested and elaborated in discussion with specialists in health, education, water and sanitation, focusing on...

The technical is political: what does this mean for the health sector?

Research reports and studies | April 2014 | Daniel Harris, Richard Batley and Joseph Wales
It is now generally accepted that governance and political economy factors are key to the effective delivery of public goods and services in specific sectors. This brief, the fourth in a series, aims to help bridge the gap between governance and sector specialists by...

The technical is political: understanding the political implications of sector characteristics for the delivery of sanitation services

Research reports and studies | March 2014 | Nathaniel Mason, Richard Batley and Daniel Harris
The characteristics of service delivery sectors have political and technical implications. These characteristics, relating to market, task and demand as well as the type of good produced, can be applied to sanitation services in order to explore and respond to some of...

Securing communities: photos from Ethiopia

Articles and blogs | 1 November 2013 | Lisa Denney
These photos depict community policing practices in Ethiopia’s Amhara National Regional State, which were the subject of the case study, Securing communities for development: community policing in Ethiopia's National Regional State.
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Securing communities: summaries of key literature on community policing

Bibliography and literature reviews | November 2013 | Sarah Jenkins
This document contains extended summaries of key background texts and readings from both academic and policy literatures which elucidate and debate the definitions, objectives, models and influencing factors of community policing in different contexts. There is an...

Working with the politics: how to improve public services for the poor

Briefing papers | September 2013 | Leni Wild and Marta Foresti
Yes, politics and institutions matter for service delivery – so what next? In this Briefing, Leni Wild and Marta Foresti present new evidence on how institutions matter and what must be done to engage with the politics of institutional reform.

Public services for all: the politics of delivery

Public event | 18 September 2013 16:30 - 18:00 GMT+01 (BST)
Despite significant progress on the MDGs, promising growth patterns, increased financing through aid, private investment and other flows, many citizens still lack access to quality basic services, delivered equitably. This debate will ask why has progress...

The technical is political: understanding the political implications of sector characteristics for education service delivery

Research reports and studies | September 2013 | Daniel Harris, Richard Batley, Claire Mcloughlin and Joseph Wales
The education sector has characteristics that have political as well as technical implications. They affect the ways in which individuals and groups interact in relation to the delivery of education services. Achieving improvements in sector outcomes demands strategies...

Securing communities: the what and the how of community policing

Research reports and studies | July 2013 | Lisa Denney and Sarah Jenkins
Community policing has gained popularity amongst donors, governments, police departments and communities as a mechanism for achieving a diverse range of goals – from crime reduction to improved state-society relations. Yet while community policing initiatives are...

It's a risky business: aid and new approaches to political risk management

Working and discussion papers | June 2013 | Alina Rocha Menocal
This paper focuses on political risk and argues that if international assistance is to promote political and institutional reform more effectively, it needs to become smarter – more politically aware, better attuned to context, more pragmatic and flexible, and,...

Tackling corruption: can citizens make a difference?

Public event | 14 May 2013 10:30 - 12:00 GMT+01 (BST)

This event will analyse innovative civil society initiatives to combat corruption and promote greater accountability in different settings across the developing world, seeking to understand when such efforts have been successful and why.


Politics and development: the almost revolution?

Articles and blogs | 9 May 2013 | Leni Wild
'What we need are innovative ideas for embedding politics and political thinking within the DNA of development agencies... In practice this involves turning the political-economy lens on donors themselves, as much as on the political systems in developing...
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Human resources for health in Nepal - the politics of access in remote areas

Research reports and studies | March 2013 | Daniel Harris, Joseph Wales, Harry Jones and Dr. Tirtha Rana, with Roshan Lal Chitrakar
This country evidence note explores the political economy dynamics associated with attempts to ensure access to qualified human resources for health (HRH) in remote rural areas of Nepal where low ratios of skilled health personnel per head of population persist.

Using aid to address governance constraints in service delivery

Research reports and studies | March 2013 | Heidi Tavakoli, Rebecca Simson and Helen Tilley with David Booth
This study examines how aid can facilitate government efforts to address governance constraints in public service delivery, and in particular what types of aid-funded activities and enabling factors seem to allow for this in practice.

Malawi’s medical emergency

Articles and blogs | 31 January 2013 | Diana Cammack
'The fixation on the father-mother president who is expected to solve the family-country’s problems demonstrates a lack of awareness of the role of formal institutions in delivering services.'
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The politics of progress on water and sanitation in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Research reports and studies | January 2013 | Claire Mcloughlin and Daniel Harris
This study explores the politics of urban water supply and sanitation delivery in the city of Colombo, Sri Lanka, where improvements in coverage have been achieved within a national context characterised by almost three decades of civil war.

Experiencing justice in fragile and conflict-affected contexts

Public event | 7 November 2012 18:30 - 20:00 GMT+00

Prof Tim Allen will chair a panel discussion on the politics of practice in security and justice programming in a joint event with the ODI.

This lecture is the closing event of a two day Expert Meeting on Justice and Security held at the ODI, in...

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Politics, state building and service delivery

Round-table | 19 October 2012 14:30 - 18:00 GMT-01

This event brought together researchers and practitioners to examine the impact of political context and institutions on service delivery; and the role of service delivery in the process of state building and creating legitimacy.

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The political economy of roads: an overview and analysis of existing literature

Bibliography and literature reviews | October 2012 | Joseph Wales with Leni Wild
This piece draws on literature from a range of countries and contexts to provide a structured political economy analysis in relation to the roads sector. It explores how a variety of governance conditions interact with the particular characteristics of the road sector...

Common constraints and incentive problems in service delivery

Working and discussion papers | August 2012 | Leni Wild, Vikki Chambers, Maia King and Daniel Harris
There is growing recognition that, despite significant increases in resourcing, public service delivery is still failing in many developing countries. This review explores the existing evidence base in three sectors (education, health, water and sanitation) across...

Justice in Sierra Leone: delivering on different levels

Articles and blogs | 26 April 2012 | Lisa Denney
'While the international community is closely watching the outcome of the high level formal justice processes underway in the Special Court, a thought should be spared for the ongoing neglect of non-state security at the local level...'
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Understanding the politics of service delivery

Workshop | 16 January 2012 09:00 - 16:30 GMT+00

This event showcased some recent examples of political economy and governance analysis for service delivery, to identify some of the common challenges but also potential solutions for working towards more politically informed aid interventions. A particular...

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