- Contact us
12 March 2015
By calling for a pledge to ‘leave no-one behind’ as the first principle of the post-2015 development agenda, the UN High Level Panel report places social justice at the heart of the new agenda, emphasising the need to reach the most vulnerable, not just the largest number of people. But, at the same time, the principle raises important questions about what we mean by ‘inclusion’: how we come to define it in theory and also how we may end up applying it in practice.
During a recent workshop hosted by ESID we discovered that while inclusion is a commonly used term, it is being used in very different ways by different scholars and practitioners, with little consensus. These discussions were continued in India, both in a conference organised by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and then at a Centre for Poverty Research seminar. So what do we mean by inclusion? And what are the implications of its implementation? Continue Reading →
06 March 2015
By Sophie King
Social accountability has become an important ‘buzzword’ among development actors seeking to understand the forms of state-society relations that may be supportive of better public services. Malena and McNeil (2010: 1) define it as: ‘the broad range of actions and mechanisms beyond voting that citizens can use to hold the state to account’. The trouble is that the focus has become the mechanisms, rather than the inequality and social and political relationships shaping public goods expenditure and quality.
Some findings from my own research into NGO-led social accountability initiatives in rural Uganda resonate with those recently published by Care International and ODI about community score card initiatives in Malawi, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tanzania. However, our interpretations of what these findings tell us may differ. Drawing on my Uganda study, but also a systematic review of how context shapes outcomes from social accountability initiatives, here are some questions which those seeking to intervene within agrarian, neopatrimonial and semi-authoritarian contexts like Uganda’s could consider:
The Rwenzori sub-region, where this fieldwork took place, had a long history of ethnic and religious conflict, leading to the exclusion of particular groups from social services and economic opportunities, and a legacy of resentment, which continues to shape both political and civil society relations. Civil servants are often not socially embedded within the community, being subject to frequent transfers – meaning they are not subject to informal accountability pressures on the basis of kinship or longer-term relationships. Decades of conflict and authoritarianism and state monopoly over cooperative production, followed by the collapse of the cooperative sector, has left a legacy of deference to authority and mistrust of collective action. Continue Reading →
05 March 2015
By Sam Hickey
David Booth’s recent blog on ‘Five myths about governance and development’ raised a number of significant challenges to what remains of the good governance agenda, and spoke directly to ESID’s own research agenda. My posting on David’s blog suggested that ESID’s own work largely supported these claims, particularly work by Kunal Sen and Lant Pritchett on how inclusive institutions may not be required to achieve rapid economic growth as long as ‘ordered deals’ are in place, something we’ve been exploring in a range of different contexts.
Our forthcoming work on oil governance in Ghana and Uganda also suggests that state capacity, rather than democracy and accountability, might be the key to governments being able to secure good deals from international oil companies. This kind of finding, along with long-standing research on developmental states, explains why ESID researchers have been lobbying for state capacity to form a central role in discussions over governance within the SDG process.
However, I also argued that there is a danger in over-emphasising the extent to which countries must achieve economic progress before democratic forms of governance emerge. Continue Reading →
4 March 2015
As much ESID research further attests, despite the widespread adoption of democratic institutions and increased economic growth in much of sub-Saharan Africa, the progress of democratisation and development remains heavily constrained by the persistence of neopatrimonial political systems and agrarian economies. In contrast to recent theorising on limited access orders and political settlements, which focus on how intra-elite relations and capitalist transformation shape institutional change, alternative historical readings place greater emphasis on the role of agency as well as structure, including in the form of organised subordinate classes as well as elites, and on the broader character of state-society relations, rather than simply inter-elite bargaining. Others have questioned the assertion that capitalist transition is a pre-requisite for democratisation, calling this the ‘sequencing fallacy’, and showing that democratic institutions can be gradually crafted, even in the absence of structural transformation.
ESID’s most recent working paper applies these debates to the context of the Rwenzori sub-region in western Uganda. Through the lens of civil society strategies for the promotion of better outcomes for smallholder farmers, this ESRC-funded study, led by Sophie King (and co-authored with Sam Hickey), finds that although progressive change for low-income groups in ‘limited access orders’ does indeed require economic transformation linked to shifts in elite incentives, attitudes, and the emergence of progressive leaders and coalitions at the top; it also requires value-driven collective action at the bottom that reshapes both socio-economic and political relations. The case studies explored here also suggest that the long-run politics of social change will be driven by norms of social justice as well as rational self-interest, and with some role for the solidarity of transnationalism.
2 March 2015
By Badru Bukenya.
Research projects that rely on elite/expert interviews with government bureaucrats and politicians are quite cumbersome to execute (Lilleker, 2003; Morris, 2009), particularly in developing country contexts. In Uganda most bureaucrats would prioritise activities that directly bring in finances. Secondly, they are suspicious of researchers and fear being misquoted. It is even an uphill task for the local researchers to access their compatriots, not least due to the perceived power imbalance in favour of the bureaucrats/politicians. These factors bring to the fore the challenges of gaining access to such reluctant respondents. As our experience with Public Sector Reform (PSR) research in Uganda shows, going around these issues calls for innovative strategies, some of which may be considered illegitimate and/or slightly manipulative in the arena of scientific research. Continue Reading →