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Lessons from IFPRI Country Programs on Informing Policy Decisions and Strengthening Capacity


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Peter Hazell and Frank Place
Lessons from IFPRI Country Programs on Informing Policy Decisions and Strengthening Capacity
Co-Organized by IFPRI and the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM)
MAY 22, 2019 - 12:15 PM TO 01:45 PM EDT

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Lessons from IFPRI Country Programs on Informing Policy Decisions and Strengthening Capacity

  1. 1. Lessons from IFPRI country programs on informing policy decisions and strengthening capacity Peter Hazell, External Coordinator of Impact Assessment, International Food Policy Research Institute Frank Place, Director, CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) Washington DC | May 22, 2019
  2. 2. IFPRI Country Program Offices Between 1980s and 2019
  3. 3. Country programs and decentralization of IFPRI’s staff Number of outposted and headquarters IRS staff, 1987-2015 20 26 31 29 20 16 18 26 25 31 31 29 31 40 52 61 61 64 79 64 82 82 85 93106 106 122 132 131 4 9 8 8 12 10 5 6 8 10 14 14 13 12 8 5 6 12 11 25 25 2533 39 40 43 43 45 44 0 50 100 150 200 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 HQ+telecommuters Outpost
  4. 4. Objectives of the studies Overall: A mid-term assessment of IFPRI country programs/decentralization strategy to find lessons for making them more effective 1. Identify factors that are associated with successful cases of informing policies and improving capacity, drawing upon reflections of IFPRI country program leaders 2. Conduct an in-depth assessment of country strategy support programs in Africa (focus on Ghana, Malawi, Uganda) drawing upon reflections of different stakeholders 3. Advance a methodology and empirical understanding of the quantitative impacts of IFPRI country programs/decentralization strategy
  5. 5. Conceptual design Self identified successes from country program leaders A sample subjected to an interview questionnaire General lessons distilled on success factors Inputs into deeper dive of African country programs Reassessed based on Africa study Interviews and surveys primarily in 3 countries Justification for quantitative “impact” study Econometric study at country level covering 33 years and 57 countries Cautious findings
  6. 6. Country program leader interviews ▪ Hazell and Place (2018) interviewed all current Country Strategy Support Program leaders as of 2017 (Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Bangladesh and Pakistan) and former leaders in Bangladesh, China, India, DRC, Malawi, Uganda, Costa Rica ▪ Agreed to focus on specific case study examples where a policy outcome was clear and influence was perceived to be significant (n=18) ▪ Discussion focused on importance of the research, partnerships, communications and other outreach activities in achieving successful policy outcomes ▪ Synthesized results and analyzed them against the Kaleidoscope Model framework (Resnick et al 2015, 2018)
  7. 7. In-depth study of current and recent African country programs ▪ External assessment by Professor Eric Tollens ▪ Reviewed materials from six countries: Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Uganda ▪ Visited Ghana, Malawi, and Uganda and interviewed/surveyed many stakeholders ▪ Focused on effectiveness of programs and areas for improvement in the IFPRI and external environment
  8. 8. Country program success case studies ▪ Bangladesh – food rations system, response to food shortages, social protection program ▪ China - public expenditures ▪ Costa Rica – Central America Free Trade Agreement ▪ DRC – agricultural business parks ▪ Egypt – food subsidy program ▪ Ethiopia - input distribution programs, social protection ▪ Ghana – input policy ▪ India – pulses policies and programs, ICAR capacity strengthening ▪ Malawi – famine response, input subsidies, maize export ban ▪ Nigeria – Agricultural Promotion Policy ▪ Pakistan – agricultural research council reforms ▪ Uganda – food price spike response
  9. 9. Findings: Are CPs having impact? ▪ Qualitative evidence: CPs have made many valuable contributions to the policies and capacities of their host countries, which are widely recognized by national stakeholders and donors. ▪ Econometric analysis: encouraging results in terms of the estimated impacts on selected policy and development outcomes in host countries. Economic benefits to host countries far exceed the costs to IFPRI of outposting staff. ▪ But the study also demonstrated the serious model specification, data, and estimation problems that bedevil such quantitative evaluations.
  10. 10. Findings: Factors contributing to CP success ▪ Select countries where IFPRI has established reputation and knowledge base from past research, and governments keen for greater engagement. Donor interest alone is not sufficient. ▪ Need sufficient time and resources to become effectively embedded within the local policy ecosystem, and to build long-term relationships of trust and credibility with key policy makers. ▪ Good partnerships critical, but care required in selecting the best partner for each role. ▪ Location: an independent office is best but with one or more team members working in the policy analysis section of relevant ministries.
  11. 11. Findings: Factors contributing to CP success Setting the research agenda ▪ IFPRI’s comparative advantage lies in providing original research contributions to the policy debate. ▪ Need to balance “firefighting” responses to new and urgent policy problems with longer-term research. ▪ Need to avoid capture by donor priorities, especially when these diverge from the government’s priorities. ▪ Having a national consultative body or process in which key stakeholders have a voice helps ensure a relevant, demand-driven agenda.
  12. 12. Findings: Factors contributing to CP success CP head’s leadership skills ▪ CPs need an appropriately skilled leader — not just research skills but also softer skills in engaging with and influencing policy makers, donors and other partners. ▪ Not all researchers have these skills and may need additional training, mentoring, and other types of support, especially when newly hired. ▪ These softer skills should also receive adequate recognition in staff performance reviews.
  13. 13. Findings: Factors contributing to CP success Capacity strengthening ▪ The most effective way to build national capacity is through collaborative research and strengthening national statistical systems and databases, and the on-the-job training these entail. ▪ Although most CPs also provide numerous one- off trainings on special topics, these trainings seem not to be very effective. ▪ More strategic approaches to capacity building are needed that take into account institutional needs as well as those of individual collaborators.
  14. 14. Findings: Factors contributing to CP success Communications ▪ The main communication channels through which CPs have influenced policies are direct contact with senior policy makers, indirectly via well- connected partner organizations and champions of IFPRI, and through evidence-based conferences and workshops. ▪ Written materials and websites have played mixed roles. ▪ Use of the media has been less common and possibly underexploited. ▪ Establishing a community of practice on communications within IFPRI might prove useful.
  15. 15. Findings: Factors contributing to CP success The last mile ▪ A successfully embedded CP team and strong evidence are not always enough for influencing policies. The right conditions are also necessary for policy change. ▪ Three factors seem particularly important: 1.The existence of a specific and relevant problem 2. Solid evidence from rigorous research on the expected impact of a policy change and of available alternatives 3. Focusing event, such as an emerging policy crisis ▪ The Kaleidoscope Model developed at IFPRI provides a useful framework for CP teams to prioritize their research agendas and outreach strategies for greater policy influence.
  16. 16. Other findings ▪ CPs are funded through bilateral grants and are vulnerable to premature termination because of unforeseen funding cuts. CP’s should strive for a diversified funding base and have exit strategies that protect and sustain their in-country achievements. ▪ CPs could usefully play bigger roles in coordinating IFPRI’s activities in their host countries—serving as clearinghouses for all IFPRI’s work relevant to their host countries, and helping to identify opportunities for integrating more of IFPRI’s research findings into national development policies. ▪ This is not to argue that CPs should assume managerial responsibility for all of IFPRI’s work in their host country.
  17. 17. References to papers ▪ Place and Hazell (2018) IFPRI country programs: Lessons from case study successes. lessons-case-study-successes ▪ Hazell, Place and Tollens (2018) Taking stock of IFPRI’s experience with country programs. experience-country-programs ▪ Benin, Place and Hazell (2018) Has IFPRI’s research decentralization strategy made a difference? An econometric study of African and Asian Countries, 1981–2014. decentralization-strategy-made-difference-econometric-study-african