It is increasingly accepted in the development discourse that reform initiatives are most effective when they take into consideration the local context of the desired reforms. In other words, it is essential for reform agents to be aware of the characteristics of the country, including the socio-economy, cultural fabric, and the context of the policy concerned. Concurrently, it is also important to understand the characteristics of the sponsors, their intrinsic assumptions, institutional biases, and the challenges they pose to the desired policy reform.
In this regard, PEI’s working approach is based on the long experience of its core team members in working to reform policies in Nepal. Based on their experience, PEI working principles are as follows:
A growing amount of development literature is emphasizing the fact that the task of policy making is intrinsically a political enterprise. It is then PEI’s belief, and working philosophy, that the most effective way to engage in reforming a policy should be by working politically within the given environment. This includes the appreciation of the underlying interests of the various groups with different stakes and the power they yield from their socio-political background, as well as the ability to engage directly with all the political constituencies.
From Recommendations to Reform
The lack of political will is often identified as a major constraint in achieving “required” reforms. The underlying assumption here is that reforms are about presenting policy makers with an ideal set of solutions, with hopes that the credibility of these solutions is sufficient for their political buy-in. However, for PEI, introducing reforms is less about political will; policy as a status quo is a natural settlement of interests of multiple political constituencies, and that reform efforts are about influencing a newer negotiated settlement of these various interests.
The evidence+ approach encourages the use of research evidence in a timely and strategic manner in order to influence policy decisions, constrain the space for purely political or personal interest-driven opinions (at least in public dialogues), and promote ownership of evidence-based approaches in the overall policy process.
PEI’s engagements begin with a comprehensive situational analysis using a political economy approach to identify the issues that serve as binding constraints in the sector. In the process, we identify the individuals and institutions and their values and interests that have shaped a particular political settlement in the sector. We then engage in multiple iterations of policy dialogues to identify and prioritize the practical problems, to promote contestation of policy