Political Economy in Practice
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How the EU Zambia Delegation is using political economy analysis

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Thanks for an interesting interview, Eric. Here are some points that struck me – and then I have a question.

First, I agree it was crucial that EUD Lusaka independently identified the need for a more politically informed approach, and made efforts to bring political and operational colleagues from a range of disciplines on board. Active engagement by the Head of Delegation was especially important.

Secondly, the EUD is not travelling this road alone. The June workshop showed the value of drawing on the insights and experience of other cooperating partners who are already using political economy analysis. Perhaps for this reason the discussion was refreshingly realistic about what such analysis can and can't offer. It really did focus on how donors could engage more effectively with local political economy realities – looking for the short term room for manoeuvre as well as longer term, often indirect ways of shifting incentives of key actors over time.

Thirdly, the issue of whether donors have the right skills, and whether aid modalities are sufficiently flexible, came up repeatedly in the Lusaka discussions, and is also highlighted in David Booth's presentation about Uganda roads. This is important – and also actionable!

Finally, it's really interesting to see how you are using PEA to try to figure out how far the recent election has really shifted incentives, and how far the new government remains constrained by foundational factors and rules of the game.

Here's my question: has political economy analysis helped to strengthen engagement within the EUD between development, political and commercial sections? If so, with what result?

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Gareth Williams
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24 October 2011

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