Thursday, 11 December 2014

Globalisation & Development blog will no longer be updated but you can read all the latest opinions from the IDS community on our website

This will be the last post to be published on this blog. The Institute of Development Studies now publishes all our members’ and guest bloggers’ posts directly onto our website.

You can keep up to date with the latest opinion and expert analysis from your favourite development bloggers, comment on and share their posts, by visiting our website, following us on social media or subscribing to updates from the following IDS research and knowledge clusters:
We are sure you will continue to enjoy the conversation.

Best wishes,

The IDS Communications and Engagement Unit

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Public Private Partnerships – A recipe for success?

What’s the recipe for success for Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in agriculture? Our research, together with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), has been trying to find an answer, analysing four IFAD supported PPPs.

It’s important to underline that IFAD’s portfolio of PPPs largely aims to develop partnerships between governments (Public), businesses (Private) and the farmers (Producers), hence setting up PPPPs (the fourth P representing the farmers/producers).
To shed some new light on the topic and share this initial thinking, IFAD and IDS jointly organised a workshop in London: ‘Enabling factors for Public Private Partnerships in agriculture’. Attended by 40 representatives – ranging from private sector, donors, governments, farmers groups, civil society, and other experts, coming from Europe and the studied countries among others - the pluralism, richness and dynamism of the discussions was guaranteed; their voices will definitely enrich and directly influence the final research report.

You may remember Jodie Thorpe's blog where she wrote about our initial hypotheses for partnerships. Today, after many interviews, a literature review and, mostly, several months of field work in four different countries – Ghana, Indonesia, Rwanda and Uganda – we now have a better understanding of what we believe to be those key factors that can make PPPs work in agriculture.

What are the enabling factors?

  1. Clear purpose aligning commercial and development objectives: incentives of the partners must be aligned, so that realising the objectives of one leads to realising the objectives of all.
  2. Structure that enables shared governance and clear roles & responsibilities: with mechanisms (formal and informal) for shared planning and decision-making involving companies, farmer organisations and government agencies.
  3. Flexibility to respond to the unexpected: markets are examples of ‘messy’ systems that actors cannot fully comprehend or control, so there is a need for flexibility and adaptation.
  4. Risk and benefit sharing: identification, (mitigation where appropriate) and allocation of risks and benefits, considering distributional aspect.
  5. Transparency and accountability to internal and external stakeholders: reducing information asymmetries, and ensuring engagement with and responsiveness to stakeholders. 
  6.  Building in the transition from PPPP to commercial operation: the PPPPs considered in this research are time-limited mechanisms to overcome market failures and lead to fully commercial relationships.  M&E, learning and considering the exit strategy from the outset are key aspects for long-term commercial viability.  

Discussions and reactions from the roundtables

PPPs are another example of the increasing interaction between business and development. Like other interventions in this area, risks, concerns and dilemmas are present and were widely discussed during the workshop. Some issues raised during the workshop were:
"Are farmers putting their assets at risk to meet the demands of the private sector/ PPP commitments?”, “how does public money add value?”, “is a two phased approach (first targeting the better-off farmers, and then the poor farmers) useful to assure poverty targeting as well as economic viability?”, “is there a risk of negative effects for the livelihoods of a wider community? "

There was a general consensus around the importance of the first three factors. “If interests are not aligned, there will not be a PPP”, stated one participant talking about alignment. It was referred to as interdependence – both business and development must align and depend on each other, and there must be a clear case around how public money adds value in the partnerships.

Governance and structure were also recognised as key, where the challenge lies in creating a governance structure that, while simple, acknowledges partners’ different evolution speeds, represents all voices, allows for shared planning and decision making and is adaptive to changing circumstances.
‘Do not overcomplicate’ was a clear message voiced; however, reality always seems to exceed expectations.

The table discussion around flexibility emphasised how responding to the unexpected requires not only flexibility, but also trust, communication, representation and conflict resolution mechanisms, among other aspects. Even though all these factors are intertwined, it was highlighted how flexibility is particularly linked to others, such as clear purpose (be flexible within an agreed and clear purpose) and structure (simple, adaptive and representative of all actors).

The remaining three factors had more nuanced discussions. With regards to risk and benefit sharing, most participants agreed that unless risks and opportunities are explicitly addressed, market relationships tend to benefit those with more assets, while risks fall disproportionately on weaker actors. Others wondered whether ‘risks have to be perfectly balanced or is it enough that all partners have less risks with the PPP than without?’. Differentiating types of risks (production-related risks, market risks, etc.) and designing benefit sharing mechanisms is a possible way forward.

Transparency and accountability is essential in some key aspects (price, land, non-market public goods, etc.), but it must be borne in mind that the partners may be hesitant about transparency in specific areas (i.e. the private sector about a business strategy). In this area, key measures include providing access to information, engagement with and responsiveness to stakeholders, and clarity on accountability paths.

Regarding the transition from PPPP to commercial operation, participants emphasised that the partnership should not be a way to reduce the cost/risk of an investment, there must be a business case for the farmers as well as for the private sector.

Participants also highlighted some factors that were missing, such as the political economy context, access to finance and the need to develop the ‘skill’ of working in partnership.

In PPPs, there is no one-size-fits-all and specific circumstances play a key role in determining the best fit. This research project aimed to simplify the complexity of PPP by identifying key enabling factors of success. The discussion with experts has brought complexity back, but this time in a way that can enrich and inform the final report.*

*The report will be available in early 2015

Maria del Mar Maestre Morales is a Research Assistant with the IDS Business Markets and Finance Cluster. She is currently working on a project examining 'Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in Agriculture: Enabling Factors and Impact on the Rural Poor'

Isabel de la Pena is a Research Assistant at IDS who has also been working on the project 'Public Private Partnerships in Agriculture: Enabling Factors and Impact on the Rural Poor'.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Modi's Clean India campaign - don’t waste the opportunity

Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister (PM) of India, launched a Swacch Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India campaign) on October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

Senior government officials, politicians and Bollywood actors were seen holding brooms in their hands cleaning neighbourhoods and getting photographed. The twitterati was abuzz with excitement. The campaign was filled with images and messages.

Credit: Press Information Bureau (Government of India)

The PM aims to have a Clean India by the time of Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary in 2019.

The campaign is timely but will it be effective?

India generates more than 150,000 tonnes of waste every day and is projected to be one of the largest waste generators in the world by 2030 (PDF). Open dumping and open burning of waste is rampant in large cities. The health and environmental impacts are well known: improper waste management causes vector borne diseases, such as malaria, as well as pollution of ground water.

At the same time waste management provides livelihoods to hundreds of thousands of people. Estimates suggest that India has more than 1.5 million people whose livelihoods depend directly or indirectly on waste.

Waste management in India - problem or opportunity?

The Government of India launched a $20 billion National Urban Renewal Mission (NURM) in 2008 (PDF). A key component of the NURM was to improve solid waste management. The first round of the NURM funding cycle is over and the results have not been very encouraging. Part of the problem with the approach was the focus to identify formal private concessionaires who would be responsible for waste management. It was assumed that the private sector would be successful where the government has failed. The PM’s campaign is one of the indicators of limited results of the NURM.

So what can be done differently?

Waste, much like its composition, is a complex challenge. The starting point for understanding the complexity of the problem and associated challenges is to recognise the multiplicity of actors, interests, technologies and narratives. The complex interplay between the actors and their interest and how they play out under different narratives (and technologies) is critical for any intervention. A stark example is the uneasy relationship between the large numbers of informal recyclers and the local government responsible for waste management (PDF).

In most cities, although the informal sector provides key services for waste management it is not a part of the “formal” waste management narrative. By not resolving this uneasy relationship, and attempting to privatise waste management, the local governments have shifted the burden on to the formal private sector. At the same time, the informal sector has struggled to find a stable role in formal waste management.

The Clean India campaign’s success depends on recognising the multiple interests which could drive or block its implementation

This recognition is critical because these actors can bring in different skills, capacities and finances which would be vital for the success of the campaign. At the same time, it should be recognised that no single actor is be able to make the campaign successful.

The alliances which would be crucial for the campaign's success include a range of actors with different skills and interests, such as:
  • The informal sector: widespread collection, reuse and repair networks interested in preservation of their livelihoods
  • The formal private sector: companies with access to finance for setting up state-of-the-art infrastructure and interested in maximizing profits.
  •  The city managers: able to convene various interests and actors and interested in a clean city.
The critical element would be to identify this diversity of actors and interests and develop city-based approaches. The Clean India campaign, much like the NURM, might have challenges to deliver what it promises with a one size fit all approach. Also, it must learn from the experiments which have succeeded in involving the informal sector in formal waste management in cities like Pune, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Delhi.

Mr. Modi’s campaign has tried to portray the individual in a city as a potential driver for a Clean India. However, the efforts of a motivated citizenry would need the support of an infrastructure that facilitates behaviour change. The campaign provides an opportunity to start thinking afresh about waste management. And critical to thinking afresh is to understand the political economy of waste.

Ashish Chaturvedi is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies. He has over 14 years of professional experience and specialises in climate change mitigation, waste management, sustainable consumption and production, and environmental policy. 

Thursday, 2 October 2014

More on the Argentine debt saga

Two recent developments in the ongoing conflict between Argentina and the so-called vulture funds that are preventing the implementation of an agreement to restructure the country’s foreign debt are of wide significance, in that they highlight respectively the shortcomings of current arrangements for debt restructuring and a possible way forward, albeit one not without pitfalls.

On 26 September US District Judge Thomas Griesa issued a ruling enabling Citibank to process a one-off payment on US dollar-denominated bonds issued under Argentine law to creditors that had agreed to the restructuring. This reversed a July decision by the same judge to the effect that no payment could be made without at the same time paying the full face value of the bonds held by the vulture funds. The ground for the decision is the uncertainty as to whether the bonds to be paid are subject to New York or Argentine law.

The sudden reversal confirms the doubts about Judge Griesa’ s erratic behaviour and the fears that he has lost a grip on the case that I referred to in a previous blog. More seriously, though, it also confirms the inappropriateness of handling complex multi-jurisdictional commitments and negotiations as if they were domestic cases to be tried in national courts. That this approach could have dangerous systemic consequences is by now well recognised; even the vulture funds themselves acknowledged that it would be reckless to continue preventing any payments, and supported the reversal.(1)

The way forward is therefore to set up a new, multilateral mechanism for debt restructuring. And this is precisely what the second recent development is about. As is by now fairly well known, on 9 September the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted Resolution A/68/L.57/Rev.1 entitled “Towards the establishment of a multilateral legal framework for sovereign debt restructuring processes”. The Resolution contains a decision to ”elaborate and adopt through a process of intergovernmental negotiations, as a matter of priority during its sixty-ninth session, a multilateral legal framework for sovereign debt restructuring processes with a view, inter alia, to increasing the efficiency, stability and predictability of the international financial system and achieving sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth and sustainable development, in accordance with national circumstances and priorities.”

This is clearly progress; however, the follow up to the Resolution is by no means straightforward. The text calls for a prior process “to define the modalities for the intergovernmental negotiations and the adoption of the text of the multilateral legal framework”; this will be difficult, given the fact that the main creditor countries either voted against the resolution (11 of them, including the US, the UK, Germany and Japan) or abstained (41 countries, including most of the EU). The end result could be a significant dilution of the original aim of adopting an international convention on debt restructuring.

The UNGA Resolution is without a doubt a major first step; but the road ahead is still long and hard.

(1) Alexandra Stevenson, “Judge Grants Temporary Stay in Argentina Default Case”, The New York Times, 26 September 2014.

By Carlos Fortin, Research Associate, Institute of Development Studies

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Does fortifying food improve nutrition for the poorest people?

Globally, deficiencies in micronutrients are staggering in scale. According  to some estimates, between 40 and 60 percent of all children in developing countries suffer negative health consequences from not receiving enough iron, and a similar percentage don’t get enough Vitamin A.

One response to this problem has been more widely adopted than any other: food fortification, the process of adding micronutrients to basic foods such as wheat flour, salt or vegetable oil. According to the Food Fortification Initiative, 81 countries have passed legislation requiring at least one cereal food to be fortified.

While the rationale behind this approach is clear: fortification costs relatively little and has the potential to rapidly reach large numbers of people, case studies by IDS and partners have highlighted that fortification programmes need to do more to have an impact on the social groups that suffer the most from undernutrition – especially the rural poor. These programmes need to examine whether they are successfully covering the products and markets that reach the poorest people.

Why mandatory fortification as a nutrition strategy?

There is a clear logic underlying using legislation to make fortification mandatory: markets, if left on their own, don’t provide enough nutrient-dense foods. This is because consumers are often unwilling to pay for these foods compared to cheaper, unfortified alternatives, and there are numerous products that falsely claim to contain added nutrients or provide health benefits.

Mandatory fortification gets around these challenges by levelling the playing field, requiring all food producers to add micronutrients to their products. At the same time, they avoid the complexities of changing consumer behaviour by providing nutrients in products that people already eat.

The difficulty of regulating value chains at the ‘bottom of the pyramid’

  1. To be successful, a fortification programme needs to accomplish two things: Cover the products that poor people eat 
  2. Motivate ALL businesses making the product (and similar alternative products) to comply with the rules
Our research in Nigeria and Tanzania highlights why these conditions are difficult to achieve.

Even under the best of circumstances, motivating businesses to comply with fortification requires a well-functioning regulatory system. Experience from Nigeria shows how difficult it is to achieve this: even with support from government and donors, and commitments from large companies, only about 30 percent of products covered by the programme contained enough micronutrients.

Meanwhile, the value chains that reach poor people at the ‘bottom of the pyramid’ are difficult for policymakers to regulate. For example, in Tanzania, there are tens of thousands of small businesses processing maize flour, many of which do not appear in government records. A USAID-funded programme (pdf) has strived to motivate these small businesses to fortify since 2011. Yet, as of early 2014, none of them had started fortification – most were unable to meet the requirements for registration with the government.

Such experiences suggest that programmes need to provide support for small enterprises over longer periods, while also improving the ability of regulating institutions to cover these markets.

Fortification programmes need strategies to work with informal businesses

Food fortification programmes and partnerships should develop strategies to ensure they reach the poor, and recognise that success with larger companies doesn’t necessarily lead to better nutrition for the poorest people. If they are to improve nutrition for the poorest, programmes need strategies for working with small and informal businesses. They also need to grow and protect households’ ability to access these foods through social protection.

We still have a lot to learn about what combination of approaches works. Our policy briefing on fortification in Tanzania recommends that policy actors and donors should pursue the following actions:
  • Invest in robust regulatory systems that cover both large and small food businesses and are effective at the local level.
  • Create incentives for small enterprises to complete business registration – even if they are not currently fortifying. This will make them easier to identify, support and monitor.
  • Fund research on how poor households source food, and strengthen national surveillance systems. Nutrition stakeholders need much more accurate data on which groups are reached by which fortified products.
  • Government and donors should fund other programmes that do reach the poorest households, including social safety nets, food distribution and support for the poorest farming households.

About the Authors

Ewan Robinson is Research Officer at Institute of Development Studies, currently helping to run the 'Strengthening Agri-food Value Chains for Nutrition research project' , assessing policy options for enhancing food markets and increasing access to healthy food.

Martha Nyagaya is Food Security and Nutrition Advisor at Irish Aid.