This briefing paper examines why and how political processes in Bangladesh have performed so well when the main theories of governance and development would predict economic and social stagnation. Using the lens of ‘political settlements’ ‘… the balance or distribution of power between contending social groups and social classes, on which any state is based’ ESID’s work has analyzed the country’s recent experience in education, health, women’s empowerment and economic growth.
Working paper 76
In Bangladesh there is a paradox when it comes to securing gender-inclusive development outcomes. Since 1991, women have occupied the highest political office and women’s presence is increasing, due to the existence of gender quotas. Women’s movement actors have a long history of mobilisation for women’s rights and securing progressive changes. However, this overlooks the complex ways in which power and politics operate in Bangladesh, including the difficulties of mobilising women as a political force in a patriarchal, informalised, clientelist context. Women, as a political group, have little to offer the ruling elites in Bangladesh: they do not vote as a block; gender equity concerns have little currency in mainstream politics; and women’s organisations are weak actors in the formal political arena. This paper investigates two successful policy cases – the Domestic Violence Act 2010, and the expansion of access to primary education for girls – to investigate what led the state to address gender equity concerns successfully in some policy areas in a competitive clientelist context? What role, if any, did women and their allies play to make these changes happen? Why do some failures in implementation persist?
Findings indicate that the alignment between each policy reform and the dominant interests and ideas of the ruling coalition influenced the capacity and commitment accorded to each agenda. Progress on passing the Domestic Violence Act was made through the high degree of personal, historical and informal relations with supportive people in government. Opportunity was created by a key moment of state formation which opened up an absence of partisan politicking and a supportive advocate at the centre of government. Expansion of girls’ access to primary education was carried along by a wave of political support for the expansion agenda, which fitted closely with powerful political logics concerning ideas, patronage, distribution, legitimacy and international support. In both cases, transnational actors, events and discourses are able to tip the balance in favour of women’s rights, and South-South exchanges can play a vital role in promoting women’s rights. Both cases reveal how the political settlement has shaped the promotion of gender equity in Bangladesh, and the value of moving beyond the usual focus on the impact of gender quotas and the effectiveness of state gender machinery, to the deeper forms of politics and power relations that shape progress on this front.
Working paper 61
Ursula Hoadley, Brian Levy, Lawule Shumane and Shelly Wilburn
This paper explores some micro-level governance and political economy
determinants of performance over time in four schools in low-income areas in the
Cape Town metropolitan area. The findings are consistent with a pattern evident in
many parts of the world – the reality of dysfunction beneath the surface of seemingly
well-organised bureaucratic processes. They are also consistent with broader
research, which points to the weakness – in the specific Western Cape demographic
profile, which is the focus – of constructive input from school governing bodies,
communities or other non-governmental actors. As a way forward, the paper
proposes pragmatism and incrementalism – relatively modest tweaks capable of
achieving seemingly small (but potentially far-reaching in their consequences)
improvements in the functioning at school level of both hierarchical and horizontal
systems of governance.
Working paper 75
The rise of the social protection agenda in Zambia over the past few years seems in some ways to fit with mainstream accounts of how welfare states are likely to emerge in developing countries, particularly in terms of the links to elections and pro-poor political parties. However, we demonstrate that this (still incipient) policy shift flows more directly from two alternative sources, namely shifting dynamics within Zambia’s political settlement and the promotional efforts of a transnational policy coalition. Adopting a process tracing approach, the paper compares the progress made on social cash transfers and social health insurance in Zambia. We investigate how the interplay of domestic political economy and transnational factors shaped the commitment of government to formulate and deliver the respective policies in the context of competing demands and priorities within the wider distributional regime. Despite some progress made in both policy areas, social protection has not as yet displaced certain interests, ideas and rent-allocation practices that are more deeply embedded within Zambia’s political settlement. However, given that it would be politically dangerous to remove social cash transfers from communities that have become used to receiving them, what matters now is the way in which such transfers become integrated within Zambia’s distributional regime, including whether they simply deepen its clientelist nature or start to form the basis of a new citizenship-based social contract.
Working paper 74
This paper explores and compares the political effects of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the mining sector in Zambia, Ghana and Peru. The paper adopts a political settlements approach to answer the question: How do the CSR practices of mining companies affect local and national political settlements? After setting out the main tenets of the political settlements approach, this is articulated with literature on the politics of natural resource extraction and CSR. The paper then sets the wider context of the international drivers of increased attention to CSR in the extractive sector, before exploring the impact of the CSR practices of mining companies on the political settlement in Ghana, Peru and Zambia at the national and local levels. The final sections offer a comparative discussion of what the findings mean for understanding CSR’s role in inclusive development and natural resource governance. The paper argues that recent increased CSR expenditure does not necessarily translate into development for those living near mining companies, particularly in contexts of exclusionary political settlements, of which all case studies exhibited characteristics. There are a great many institutional and contextual limitations placed on the ability of CSR to deliver development for affected communities. Across the case studies, the opportunities that CSR programmes afford tended to aimed at those with the greatest capacity to disrupt operations, rather than those with the greatest need. In concluding, I argue that, despite some obvious limitations, the political settlements approach can generate new insights through its focus on the politics of development, and, in particular, the politics of stability.
Working paper 73
Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) is among the largest social protection programmes in Africa and has been promoted as a model for the continent. This paper analyses the political drivers of the programme, arguing that elite commitment can be understood in the context of shifts within Ethiopia’s political settlement and the government’s evolving development strategy. Foreign donors provided policy ideas and pushed for reform, but it was not until incentives flowing from the political settlement were favourable that elite commitment was secured. Even then, longstanding ideological commitments shaped the productive focus of the programme, ensuring consistency with the development strategy.
The Transforming Settlements for the Urban Poor (TSUPU) Programme was formed in 2010 as a partnership between Shack/Slum Dwellers International, The National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda, The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and Cities Alliance. This partnership programme has been most effective in reducing poverty through enabling the co-production of basic services between the organised poor in slum dweller organisations and municipal governments. Vertical-level coalitions, which join together key actors across transnational, national, municipal and settlement levels, are important in addition to municipal-level partnerships.
The Transforming Settlements for the Urban Poor (TSUPU) Programme sought to align national, municipal and community urban development efforts, and include the poor in planning and decision-making processes. This has helped to bring about improved relationships and attitude change between Ugandan municipal officials and the organised urban poor, creating a more enabling environment for poverty reduction. Mobilisation of the urban poor into organised federations such as municipal development forums has also made governance more inclusive. The investigated projects that have contributed most to poverty reduction are the co-produced water and sanitation projects. It is this relationship and co-production between the local government and organised urban poor that is key to reducing urban poverty in Uganda.
Uganda has one of the highest urban growth rates in the world. An estimated 60 percent of Uganda’s urban population lives in informal settlements with a lack of access to tenure security, decent housing and basic services. This urban poverty has been reduced through the Transforming Settlements of the Urban Poor (TSUPU) programme. TSUPU has transformed relationships between local-level officials and the urban poor through the co-production of services and new participatory governance spaces called Municipal Development Forums. These new partnerships between local governments and the urban poor have been embedded into policy and practice through coalitional working between donor agencies, transnational social movements, government, civil society and the organised urban poor.