INCLUDE Platform

Partnerships and knowledge sharing are key to achieving more inclusive development in Africa. This was the main message of presentations made by the INCLUDE and NWO-WOTRO research groups during the INCLUDE research-policy dialogue on ‘How to make development policies in Africa more inclusive?’ At the dialogue, which was held on Friday 30 September in Leiden, the Netherlands, the research groups presented their interim findings and outlined the implications for policy. The presentations were followed by open dialogue with policymakers, researchers and INCLUDE platform members. More than 60 people participated in the dialogue, including 10 senior officials from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Thirteen INCLUDE research groups were represented and the majority had updated their one-pagers with interim research findings and policy messages to facilitate the discussions.

The report of the research-policy dialogue has now been published. Highlights from the report are outlined below.

An overarching point derived from the discussions on productive employment was that single, targeted interventions are often insufficient to bring about inclusive change and there are various constraints on realizing the presumed trickle-down effects for target groups. The project on feeder roads in Ethiopia found that while these roads do open up various market opportunities in rural areas, the benefits do not accrue to everyone in rural communities, partly due to a transport gap. In Uganda, another project found that providing credit to female entrepreneurs is not enough to create employment, due to cultural constraints, among other things. In Kenya and Nigeria, it was found that investment by multinational organizations (MNOs) is not sufficient to create productive employment, as host governments need to first create an enabling environment. In relation to the avocado sector in Kenya, it was found that group certification for smallholder avocado famers is not a panacea to their problems regarding inclusion in the market, due to issues with the governance of cooperatives.

Partnerships are a useful tool for achieving more inclusive development, as found by the research projects on strategic actors. Each of the different partners (governments, the private sector, researchers and civil society organizations) have different interests and contributions to make. It is important to understand the interests of each partner for the partnership to be successful. As inclusiveness is not usually the main motivation for governments or the private sector to engage in a partnership, civil society organizations play a crucial role in representing the interests of marginalized groups. Issues with partners often have to do with commitment, trust in the other partners, and the engagement of the private sector. It is vital that the state creates an enabling environment that allows for private-sector-led initiatives. Relationships between partners have to be built carefully, especially when sensitive issues are at stake. And, when attempting to economically empower vulnerable groups, such as sex workers, a thorough understanding of their ‘money logic’ (which shapes how people relate to money) is important. In relation to agricultural partnerships, the composition of the partnership and the aims of the partners determine how much smallholders benefit in terms of increased decision-making and negotiating power.

Determining the cost effectiveness of social protection health-based interventions is far from straightforward, as found by the research projects on social protection. The various programmes and social protection policies can overlap, making it difficult to establish the cost effectiveness of a particular intervention. It is also difficult to recover the costs of insurance in an area where free healthcare is being implemented through other interventions. The implementation of social protection policies depends on political will, which is different in each country. It is important to note that other aspects of health systems, such as reaching the facility on time, may be more important to improving health outcomes than whether or not the health services are free or health insurance is available. There is a need to invest in infrastructure that promotes investment in, and return on, health and education, which means that social protection should be part of a broader overall government investment strategy.

You can download the full report of the research-policy dialogue below.

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