Politically smart support to economic development

Research reports and studies
March 2016
The reservoir of ‘Chandrajyoti hydro-electric power station’ in Pharping, Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo: ICIMOD Kathmandu

Supporting economic growth processes to become more inclusive and transformative is one of the most important uses of aid. But, since the principal barriers to progress in economic development are political, change initiatives need to be targeted and politically smart. Comprehensive governance reforms have a poor record of success, whereas politically smart, targeted initiatives are beginning to show real promise.

This publication and accompanying policy brief aim to stimulate further discussion and action in this field. It includes two case studies (Nepal and Nigeria) of initiatives funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) that have achieved promising results in recent years. 

An opening contribution, by the editor, sets the scene with a fuller discussion, from an independent perspective, of why the two DFID experiences are significant. The case studies that follow were written by DFID authors as part of DFID’s ‘Governance for Economic Development’ initiative. The publication concludes with further reflections by the editor, including recommendations on what else may need to happen to realise the considerable potential of a politically smart approach to economic development.