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GTZ Department for International Development (DFID)

Principles for PSIA process in policy cycles and stakeholder participation

A document produced jointly by GTZ and DFID for sharing with the PSIA Network

Sabina Schnell, Peter Poulsen, Ann Condy, Mari Tertsunen, Jeremy Holland

Department for International Development (DFID) & GTZ

March 2006

SARPN acknowledges the GTZ as a source of this document:
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  1. Background

    1. Poverty and Social Impact Analyses (PSIA) have been used in recent years as an approach to improving the evidence base for policy making, with a strong focus on the distributional impact of policies on the poorest. The main documents which explain the analytical framework, approach, methods and tools of PSIA are the World Bank’s User’s Guide to PSIA [PSIA Users Guide] and the Sourcebook for Tools for Institutional, Political and Social Analysis [TIPS]. These are supported by documents outlining good practice, more detailed tools and lessons from PSIA experience, documented in the Bibliography.

    2. In the last two years, many stakeholders have expressed a concern that getting the PSIA process right is as important as improving the quality of the analysis. The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) advised DFID recently to concentrate more on improving the process of PSIA and less on outcomes.1 Based on a review of selected World Bank funded PSIA studies, EURODAD cautions “the process of how PSIA and other research is carried out needs to be vastly improved if their potential is to be realised”2.

    3. A PSIA which is conducted with due concern to national policy processes and stakeholder interests can strengthen ownership for reforms and expand the evidence basis of policy. Increasing the utilisation of such evidence is a complex process, which strongly depends on political and historical circumstances. Understanding and addressing issues related to political economy improves the likelihood that the results of the PSIA will influence decisions, and enables successful policy implementation.

    4. In Box 1 we summarise the principles that should inform a good PSIA process. These principles are discussed and illustrated in the remainder of the Note.

    Box 1. Summary: The key principles of good PSIA process

    • PSIA should be built on an understanding of policies and policy processes: these are not technical instruments that respond in a neutral fashion to emerging evidence.
    • PSIA should be embedded in local policy cycles and be a transparent part of the policy process.
    • The choice of topic for PSIA should be part of broader transparent and consultative national decision-making processes: these include national planning and PRS process.
    • The key actors leading the PSIA process should understand their complementary roles: these are Commissioners, Practitioners and Facilitators.
    • The appraisal of PSIA proposals should take good process into account: Where it is evident that PSIAs are likely to be extractive, with weak local engagement and ownership, PSIAs are unlikely to be effective.
    • Communication and dialogue should be promoted to encourage broadened participation from a wide range of stakeholders. Existing or new sets of relationships that are inclusive and empowering should be further institutionalised through the PSIA process.
    • Wherever possible, PSIA should build the capacity of local partners: including research practitioners, policy makers and civil society organisations.
    See also:
    World Bank Good Practice in PSIA Note; DFID Good Practice; GTZ Good Practice.

    1. Naturally, while the focus on process is important, the need to strive for rigorous, robust and scientific analysis must not be lost. One does not analyse by “consensus”, but must recognize that data and analysis is not always neutral. Yet, given the many real world constraints, we need to accept that ‘adequate’ process and ‘adequate’ rigour may often be inevitable.

    2. There is a need to distinguish between participation in the political debate and decision process and participation in the data collection and analysis itself. Since the latter is well covered through participatory or qualitative instruments, which are presented in the PSIA User’s Guide and TIPS Sourcebook, this Briefing Note tries to complement them with guidance on how to improve the consultation processes related to the analyses and their integration into existing policy processes in order to increase impact on policy decisions.

    3. While of use to all stakeholders, this note is of particular use for three key actors driving a PSIA – commissioners, practitioners and facilitators. The same actors may take on more than one role, however, distinguishing the three roles helps to clarify their respective contributions to the process. The note aims to convey some practical tips, while at the same time painting a broader picture of factors to be considered when thinking about PSIA process and participation. The principles, steps and recommendations outlined in this note are intended as advisory rather than prescriptive or mandatory.

  1. ‘What has DFID learned from the PSIA process?’ ODI, Kate Bird et al, June 2005.
  2. EURODAD PSIA Study Draft, Executive Summary.

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