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13 January 2020
Congratulations to ESID researchers, Vasudha Chhottray, Anindita Adhikari and Vidushi Bahuguna, whose pioneering ESID research has been published in the prestigious journal, World Development.
The research compares India’s national food subsidy programme in two new states created in 2000, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. The research asks why Chhattisgarh has prioritised the food welfare programme far more than Jharkand.
FINDINGS: The reason for the disparity is that the political incentives that drive support for the programme differ considerably between the two states. These political differences include:
Read the World Development article here.
13 January 2020
ESID is delighted to congratulate our CEO, Professor David Hulme, who has been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours list for services to research and international development. Through a distinguished 40-year career in development, Professor David Hulme’s research and passionate commitment to creating positive change has helped to lift millions of people out of extreme poverty. David’s passion and energy for tackling poverty is evident through his leadership of ESID, and his leadership continues to improve the role of politics in development.
David has worked extensively all over the world, including South Asia, East Africa and the Pacific, and his work has improved policy, practice and the understanding of poverty and inequality across the globe. His main research focus has been on Bangladesh, where he served as team leader of the international support team for the government of Bangladesh’s National Social Protection Strategy (2012-2014); he inspired positive government action and encouraged further donor investment, which helped at least 18 million Bangladeshis move out of poverty.
‘Just Give Money to the Poor’, a book he co-authored with Armando Barrientos and Joseph Hanlon in 2010, demonstrated the effectiveness of cash transfers, and had a direct influence on the expansion of social protection programmes around the world, supported by large donors, such as Department for International Development and the World Bank.
David Hulme’s research findings have also helped microfinance institutions around the world to improve their impact on the lives of the poor. His insights have positively influenced the microfinance operations of BRAC in Bangladesh, benefiting over 4 million people. As director of the Chronic Poverty Research Centre (2000-2009), David was integral to efforts to understand and identify practical solutions and policy guidance to help the poor escape from the cycle of chronic poverty, resulting in £250 million of additional funding from DFID and AUSAID.
David has been widely published, having edited 16 volumes, over 80 internationally peer-reviewed journal articles and authored 12 books, including ‘Why Should Rich Nations Help the Poor’. He has supervised 32 PhD candidates to graduation, many of whom now contribute to the academic and policy thinking on development as professors at leading universities or as senior advisors at ILO, UNDP and World Bank.
David has also made critical contributions towards establishing and maintaining networks of development studies practitioners in the UK and beyond. As president of the Development Studies Association, he helped to inject new energy and ideas, while turning around a challenging financial situation for the Association.
For decades, David Hulme’s work has shaped the research agenda and policy implications of development studies, resulting in improvements in the lives of millions of people living in poverty around the world.
19 December 2019
This blog features Sohela’s ESID work on gender and was originally published by The Development Leadership Programme.
The meaning of ‘acting together’ has never been more significant in the current context of fast-changing demographics, climate and persistent inequalities. Globally, the past few years have witnessed communities taking collective action against these urgent challenges. Extinction Rebellion, Black Lives Matter, #MeToo and multiple energy and fuel protests all point towards the demand for political reform and need for collaborative problem-solving.
While the motivation for these bottom-up movements is debated, they raise important questions about what drives people to act together and, crucially, when they are likely to achieve their goals.
Change cannot rely on individual leaders. Although the charisma of some leaders may capture our imaginations – for better or worse – improvements to peoples’ lives depend on leaders from different backgrounds coming together to gain the power, legitimacy and influence they need to push for change. A new DLP paper, ‘How does collective leadership change institutions?’, unpacks the latest global evidence on these questions.
Mobilising a cohesive and inclusive group of leaders is no mean feat. Especially in the context of shrinking civic space, where elites capture and close down the opportunities for reform. A huge challenge for coalition-building is creating an open and communicative environment between group members, which is essential for enabling a meaningful exchange of resources and ideas.
Once coalitions and movements are formed, how do they gain collective power and legitimacy? Leaders of coalitions can draw on various sources of influence to make a difference. Whether through material wealth, or organisational ‘strength in numbers’, coalitions can leverage power to disrupt the status quo and influence political elites at the helm of decision-making.
Ideas are another crucial resource in the push for change. In Uruguay, for example, a coalition that advocated for legalising abortion strengthened their case for reform by strategically linking it to the idea of inequality. They highlighted that poor women were adversely affected by unsafe abortion, and through this narrative created a wider appeal. The power of ideas is their ability to create an alternative narrative of what change can look like, and why it is needed.
Lobbying, campaigning and public interest litigation can also help coalitions draw public attention to their cause, but leaders need to engage in formal policy spaces to drive change. Here, they need to be savvy in dealing with key power brokers inside, and tactical in challenging sticky informal norms and practices. In the case of Uganda, for example, coalition leaders working on domestic violence effectively targeted influential male members of parliament to act as allies to resist the draft law.
Accessing informal networks can be key for influencing powerful individuals. Privileged, elite groups, already plugged into power, can have a natural advantage. Yet, increasingly, marginalised groups are finding the political space to create their own opportunities for influence. In Mexico, women parliamentarians and movement actors successfully created an informal network to track the implementation of the gender quota law. This case study is just one of many that demonstrate the power of informal institutions and that fixing formal rules of engagement is not enough for addressing inequality and institutional change.
What is tricky is that coalitions need to balance their internal legitimacy with their engagement in formal political spaces. The advantages gained by coalitions of leaders through engaging with powerful individuals and political elites, at strategic moments, can simultaneously result in a loss of support and legitimacy from the wider movement. What is also tricky for coalitions is how do they engage with transnational actors and networks. Here,
Coalitions must consider the trade-off between potential support from transnational networks and the risks to their legitimacy as a locally embedded movement.
These are just some of the challenges and strategies of working together. And we do not know enough about them. Mobilisation is taking place in real time across our social and political landscape, and research needs to catch up. We need more nuanced and interdisciplinary approaches to understanding how and when coalitions influence reform. This matters because if we do not learn more about how to act together with impact, some of the most pressing issues facing our dynamic and globalised world will go unsolved.
25 November 2019
ESID recently hosted the final lecture in The Adrian Leftwich Memorial Lecture series. Set up to honour the memory of key contributor to the politics of development, Adrian Leftwich, this was the seventh lecture in a series that has included world-leading speakers, such as Yuen Yuen Ang and Thomas Carothers. The series finished on a high in Manchester with a lecture on Spatial Inequality in African Political Economy, given by leading scholar on the politics of development Professor of Comparative Politics at LSE, Catherine Boone.
Following the lecture, the series was handed over to the Politics Department at the University of York, where Adrian Leftwich was based for a number of years. Friend and colleague of Adrian, Professor Neil Carter – pictured below – gave a speech on Adrian’s legacy and the future of the series at York.
Watch a video on Adrian Leftwich and the lecture series
Watch the final lecture in the series by Professor Catherine Boone
21 November 2019
New, open access book on The Politics of Social Protection in Eastern and Southern Africa has been edited by ESID’s Sam Hickey, Tom Lavers, together with UNU-WIDER’S Miguel Niño-Zarazúa, and Jeremy Seekings of the University of Cape Town. The book challenges existing accounts of how social protection has spread in Africa. The common assumption is that the popularity of social protection programmes in African countries has been entirely driven by international development agencies. But this book instead focuses on the role of political dynamics within specific African countries.
This extract from from the book’s introduction sets out how the driving force for reform has been where social assistance is incorporated as an element of the political survival strategies employed by domestic political elites to build regime legitimacy, secure political allegiance, or win electoral support:
While transnational actors have exercised some influence on the expansion of social assistance within Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), the case studies here emphasise that the timing of scheme adoption, the types of programmes adopted or rejected, and the degree of programme expansion are all fundamentally driven by domestic political dynamics. Cases as diverse as Ethiopia, Malawi and Uganda all highlight how donor pressure for policy reform and the expansion of social assistance have been resisted over extended periods, only resulting in programme adoption and expansion when domestic political factors shift or where donors realign their advocacy efforts to fit with dominant ideas and incentives within national-level politics. Here, we focus on how these political dynamics, particularly in terms of political settlements, ideas and electoral politics, have shaped the adoption and expansion of cash transfer programmes in our eight case study countries.
Social assistance and the politics of elite survival in east and southern Africa
In stark contrast to research on the politics of welfare states and social protection in Latin America, and also in the South Asian context, the case studies in this book suggest that popular political mobilisation has played a minimal role in the expansion of social assistance in east and southern Africa. Instead, the driving force for reform has been where social assistance is incorporated as an element of the political survival strategies employed by domestic political elites to build regime legitimacy, secure political allegiance, or win over electoral support. These survival strategies differ according to both the nature of the political settlement within each country, with reference to the balance of power relations among elites and between elites and subjects, and the dynamics that flow from these shifting power relations. Of the case studies that employ the political settlements framework, a clear divergence exists between those countries where political power is concentrated among a handful of political elites within a dominant ruling party (Ethiopia and Rwanda) and those in which power is more dispersed among elite groups (Uganda and Zambia). In the former, electoral politics are a mere façade, offering little to no possibility of regime change. In contrast, in the latter, some degree of dispersal of political power in Uganda and Zambia requires that politicians prioritise building broad political coalitions through alliances and the distribution of rents in order to win elections. Continue Reading →