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EuropeAid (2008) Analysing and Addressing Governance in Sector Operations

This reference document from the European Commission (EC) provides guidance to EC sector specialists on how to improve the quality and impact of response strategies at sector level by analysing governance in sectors in a more systematic and comprehensive manner.

Addressing democratic governance is important for consolidating democracy, the rule of law and human rights, building-up sustainable sector development and strengthening aid effectiveness in sector operations.

Two key lessons can be drawn from EC support to various sectors: 1) improvements of governance conditions take time and 2) governance issues are increasingly given more importance at sector level.

However, a shift in the overall approach to supporting sector governance is needed to address those governance issues in a more systematic way. This approach can be framed around four principles:

  • Adopt a realistic and gradual approach based on a strong understanding of the local context;
  • Acknowledge that improvements in sector governance are primarily a domestic process in which EC staff will have a facilitator role;
  • Be much more aware of donors’ negative and positive influence on sector governance, eg. find a good balance between mutual accountability and strengthening of domestic accountability;
  • ‘Think out of the aid box’ by looking at regional and global initiatives that have also an impact on sector governance such as the EITI or FLEGT.

Adopting such approach implies more specifically for EC staff that: sector governance should be analysed more systematically, in particular by looking at the influence of power and politics on sector performance; sector governance should become a cross-cutting dimension in EC sector support; and joint analysis, dialogue and sector support with other donors should be undertaken whenever possible.

Critical issues to consider when embarking in a sector governance analysis process include: the recognition that governance analysis is not a one-off exercise but a long-term process that should be linked to the domestic sector calendar; the importance of clearly defining beforehand the purpose of the governance to determine the scope and ambition of the analysis; the need to build the process on existing domestic assessments and to include a range of partners and donors.

Four practical steps can be followed when carrying a sector governance analysis (see the visual representation of the sector governance analysis framework):

1)     Analyse the context, including the different structures, processes and legal framework influencing the sector;

2)      Map the different actors, their powers, interests and incentives for change;

3)     Assess the type of governance and accountability relations between the actors;

4)     From the three steps above, conclude on the degree of reform readiness in the sector.

Three operational guidelines can guide EC staff from analysis to action when designing and implementing response strategies:

  • Act strategically by adopting a non-normative approach that focuses on the domestic governance system in the sector;
  • Focus on basic first instead of aiming at overambitious reforms;
  • Promote governance principles in a country/sector-context sensitive way.

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Document uploaded by

Jorge Rodriguez Bilbao
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19 July 2011

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