Many key programming tools are technical in nature, relying on the uptake or use of knowledge in order to have an impact. These tools are not, however, deployed in a vacuum: they are used in contexts with diverse and often deeply-entrenched power dynamics and political economy features.
The challenges faced are well-known to development practitioners – and matter for the effectiveness, impact, and value for money of in-country programming. Knowledge-based modalities, such as technical assistance (TA) and policy dialogue, could have high impact at relatively low cost but not if they are deployed inappropriately. When undertaken without a clear strategy, there is a risk they can be a waste of money, resulting in nothing more than long reports that sit on shelves.
This Background Note draws on a recent ODI book, Knowledge, Policy and Power in International Development, to argue that in-country programming decisions should incorporate an analysis of the dynamics around knowledge, policy and power (KPP) to improve their effectiveness and value for money.
It looks at technical assistance, policy dialogue, capacity building and promoting technology uptake, and details the ways in which KPP analysis can guide programming processes. It concludes by examining some of the practical aspects of carrying out knowledge, policy and power analysis.