Doing Development Differently workshop - Jakarta 2017
How the concept of Thinking and Working Politically (TWP) translates into international development practice was at the heart of the 2017 Doing Development Differently workshop. See governance specialist Graham Teskey's reflections on the workshop on From Poverty to Power (30 March).
The two-day workshop, Implementing The ‘New’ Development Agenda, was hosted by the Knowledge Sector Initiative (KSI), the KOMPAK program and The World Bank in Jakarta from 15–16 March, with support from the Australian Embassy Jakarta. Around half of the 200+ participants were officials, policymakers and practitioners from Indonesia’s government, civil service and local organisations. They were joined by researchers and by staff from donor organisations and NGOs. DLP was represented by Research Fellow Caryn Peiffer and Research Associate Ed Laws.
In his opening remarks, Graham Teskey said that the principles of Doing Development Differently, including the need to understand the political context of donor programs and initiatives, are now at the forefront of a more mature approach to thinking and practice in international development. The workshop’s core themes were designed to focus attention on what politically-smart gender programming looks like, and what practical help could be given to both practitioners and governments to support this way of working.
The issue of gender-blind TWP was a central feature of the workshop agenda, and DLP’s Caryn Peiffer helped facilitate a break-out group that considered the issue of gender, power and inclusiveness in program planning and implementation. Their discussions discussed the principles of TWP and gender in the context of real-world problems, such as cultural resistance to the inclusion of women and other groups in mainstream decision-making, and considered how participants could work more politically on such issues in their day-to-day practice.
Ed Laws shared DLP findings and resources in the ‘marketplace’ area of the workshop, where about a dozen organisations were presenting their work. Delegates were particularly interested in DLP’s Everyday Political Analysis (EPA) framework and the ease with which it could be applied to some of the examples and case studies discussed in the workshop’s plenary sessions.
Over the two days of the workshop, delegates discussed practical challenges, such as finding staff and allies who are able to work politically and iteratively, or avoiding an automatic default to technical ‘solutions’.
One breakout group was asked to consider the goal of ‘Building your dream team: politically astute, problem driven and adaptive’. There was general agreement that an effective, politically informed approach to development work demanded flexible and open-minded staff. However, some participants felt that insistence on technical and academic credentials often tended to inhibit the recruitment of staff who had the management and networking skills required for DDD/TWP.
Ed Laws said: “I came away from the conference with the sense that DDD proponents are now moving beyond flexible and responsive ways of designing and implementing projects, to engage more explicitly with local political actors, interests and coalitions in support of positive change.”