Political economy analysis for operations in water and sanitation: a guidance note

Briefing papers
April 2012
Michelle Kooy and Daniel Harris

The ‘political economy context’ is increasingly seen as a deciding factor in the extent to which development programmes achieve their aims. Integrating political economy thinking into programme design can help identify entry points for mobilising change and adjust or design programmes to maximise their effectiveness.

The purpose of this guidance note is to provide DFID staff with an overview of how Political Economy Analysis (PEA) can improve programme design in the water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector. The note:

  1. Highlights recent trends in approaches to PEA in international development with relevance to WASH
  2. Indicates WASH-specific content relevant for a PEA
  3. Provides an overview of how to conduct or contract out this type of analysis
  4. Draws attention to recent experiences with the application of PEA in support of WASH sector operations.

It complements a growing body of existing work on applied political economy analysis in international development, including DFID’s How To Note on Political Economy Analysis (DFID, 2009), and the World Bank’s How To Note for Political Economy Assessments at Sector or Project Levels (Poole, 2011).