Evaluation 2017: From Learning to Action

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Hidden Systems: Conducting Political Economy Analysis in Difficult Data Contexts

Session Number: 2563
Track: Systems in Evaluation
Session Type: Panel
Tags: international development evaluation, Political Economy Analysis, political systems
Session Chair: David Jacobstein [Democracy Specialist - USAID]
Discussant: Elizabeth Ruedy [Democracy Fund]
Presenter 1: David Jacobstein [Democracy Specialist - USAID]
Presenter 2: Mason Ingram
Presenter 3: Imara Dunovant Crooms [Senior Program Design & Monitoring Specialist - International Republican Institute]
Presenter 4: Sheila Scott, Center for Applied Learning and Impact, IREX [Senior Technical Advisor for Gender - IREX]
Time: Nov 10, 2017 (08:00 AM - 09:30 AM)
Room: PARK TWR STE 8219

Presentation Abstract 1:

Understanding the political economy of contested issues is challenging. USAID's David Jacobstein will share the USAID applied political economy framework and its spread, and discuss ways that the Agency's applied PEA framework has been used around issues that touch on corruption in medical supply chains, trafficking in wildlife, and peace settlements, relating how diversifying informants, appreciative framing, triangulation, and comfort with uncertainty have helped to make those PEA findings more useful.


Abstract 2 Title: It is both challenging but essential to generate political insights and analysis in closed or closing environments. Pact’s Mason Ingram will discuss the organization’s experience conducting its Applied Political Economy Analysis (APEA) methodo
Presentation Abstract 3:

One strategy for dealing with data-poor environments is simply to cast a wider net for data and information. Depending on whether a country, sector, or problem-driven PEA is planned, looking for data that is tangential or external to the system (or system elements) being explored can help bolster the evidence base and triangulate findings. IRI is currently developing a PEA-driven methodology to assess political systems and risks of democratic backsliding. In this presentation, IRI will discuss how its methodology expands the boundaries of what might typically considered the political system and how doing so helps expand the pool of potential indicators in data-poor contexts.


Presentation Abstract 4:

IREX’s Center for Applied Leaning and Impact recently conducted a problem-driven PEA on the gender digital divide in Myanmar. Emerging from 50 years of international isolation and beset by ongoing interethnic conflict, Myanmar is experiencing an unprecedented pace of technology uptake within opaque and shifting political and economic systems. Apparent progress towards democratization - such as the sweeping victory of Nobel Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy in 2015 - has not translated into greater transparency and accountability, and the civil war and human rights abuses continue. IREX will share lessons learned from its experience researching drivers of change related to the gender digital divide, a growing global challenge to sustainable and equitable development that exists but is largely unrecognized by key stakeholders as an obstacle to women's full contribution to progress and prosperity in Myanmar.


Theme: Learning to Enhance Evaluation
Audience Level: All Audiences

Session Abstract (150 words): 

Political economy analysis (PEA) is a tool increasingly employed in the international development sector to better understand the context in which development programs take place, and particularly the enablers and constraints that may affect the achievement of outcomes and impact. Updating a political economy analysis regularly during program implementation encourages program learning and adaptation, which are attributes of successful programming in complex contexts. However, gathering and triangulating data about stakeholders and systems to inform a PEA can be difficult in many international development contexts, particularly those in conflict or which lack rule of law and transparent political decision-making. This panel will focus on these challenges and provide overviews of methods and approaches that have been used to conduct PEAs in difficult environments.



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