Who we are
The Thinking and Working Politically Community of Practice (TWP CoP) is a global network of practitioners and researchers in development and global affairs committed to promoting more effective development policy and practice. The TWP CoP works to promote more politically aware approaches to development, encourage their adaptation, translate findings and implications emerging from political economy analysis into operationally relevant guidance, and provide evidence-based insights that can stimulate innovation, sharing and learning.
Leila Kazemi, November 2023
Leila is a senior fellow of the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI). This reflection piece is based on a CCSI project on the Politics of Extractive Industries that sought to support greater integration of a political lens into efforts of global actors working to improve the governance of extractive industries. Few in a field routinely confronting governance challenges such as corruption, state capture, and lack of accountability rooted in powerful vested interests would dispute that ‘politics matter’. However, there has been less clarity on how it is that politics matter – and what can be done in response. These were the key issues that the Politics of Extractive Industries project sought to address. This piece focuses on the process of trying to get a particular subfield of stakeholders to think and work in more politically aware ways, and not on the substantive outputs of that project as such.
Case Study Series: Profiles in Locally Led Approaches to Thinking and Working Politically
The TWP CoP is delighted to support the publication of a case study series sponsored by the DC Working Group on “Profiles in Locally-led Approaches to Thinking and Working Politically”. The series documents the efforts of local organisations and activists at the frontline of development to operate in ways that are anchored in thinking and working politically principles at the country and regional level. Showcasing the experiences and perspectives of Southern-based actors operating across a range of contexts, this series makes an important contribution to the body of evidence on politically aware and adaptive development. Case studies in the series, which are available on the TWP CoP webpage :
- Case Study 1: Advancing Pro-Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) Survivor Reform in Colombia
- Case Study 2: Thinking and Working Politically by Engaging Youth in Peacebuilding and Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) in Mali
- Case Study 3: Thinking and Working Politically while Providing Legal Aid to Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Survivors in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
- Case Study 4: How Refugee Women Use Political Know-How to Make Everyone Safer: The Case of the Yoleta (‘Think about it!’) Group in Uganda
Reflections on my experience as governance advisor of thinking and working politically in Sierra Leone and Liberia
Dadirai Chikwengo, May 2023
This personal reflections piece by Dadirai Chikwengo has two mutually reinforcing aims: to track her thinking and working politically (TWP) experience as a Governance Advisor and perhaps encourage others to embark on a similar journey; and to add this learning to the growing body of knowledge on TWP. Dadirai discusses how she was initially drawn to TWP, and why she has found it to be a useful approach to inform programming. Drawing on her experiences from Sierra Leone and Liberia, she highlights some of the enablers, opportunities, and challenges in operationalising TWP. She draws particular attention to how the conceptual language of TWP may be alienating, and how she has tried to make those concepts make sense to partner organisations that seek to bring change and transformation in their communities. By way of conclusion, Dadirai offers some practical recommendations to practitioners and signpost useful ‘go to’ areas.
Reflections on Ten Years of USAID’s Experience with Political Economy Analysis and Thinking and Working Politically
Derick Brinkerhoff and Marc Cassidy
In December 2022, the TWP CoP, in collaboration with RTI International and Adapt Consult, hosted a webinar on ‘Political Economy Analysis and TWP: Learning from Ten Years of USAID Experience’. This Reflections Note synthesises the key points arising from the webinar, including observations on the impacts, opportunities, challenges, and prospects for PEA/TWP to become more deeply adopted and sustained as a development methodology and approach across sectors. The paper starts by defining key concepts. It then highlights insights from the webinar discussion on the impact of the application of PEA and TWP principles across sectors. The paper concludes by looking at progress achieved to date, as well as constraints and opportunities to increase the uptake of both thinking and working politically in USAID-sponsored programming going forward.
Alan Whaites, Laure-Hélène Piron, Alina Rocha Menocal and Graham Teskey
This guide outlines a set of analytical tools that are collectively known as Political Economy Analysis (PEA). The guide aims to equip practitioners to think and work in a politically informed manner, given that foreign policy and development objectives are invariably politically complex, and entail engaging with counterparts’ political incentives and preferences. The guide summarises different types of approaches to undertake PEA – from very light-touch to more in-depth – and provides advice to help foreign affairs and development professionals decide what might be more/less appropriate and feasible in a given context and why, with illustrations based on the experiences of FCDO teams working on these issues. This guide will help practitioners to make use of PEA and to adapt and tailor it to their own specific needs. The first part of the guide offers a general overview of PEA as an analytical approach. The second part provides more specific guidance for those who are tasked with undertaking analysis.
The TWP Community Podcast
In this podcast series Alina Rocha Menocal, Director of the TWP CoP, interviews experts on a variety of topics from a thinking and working politically perspective.
What is most exciting for you about the TWP agenda going forwards? Neil McCulloch on TWP entering new sectors beyond traditional governance
In this short video Neil McCulloch, Executive Director at The Policy Practice and TWP CoP Steering Committee member, tells us he is most excited to see the thinking and working politically agenda adopted beyond ‘big G’ governance sectors to wider sectors, for example in energy reform.
What is most exciting for you about the TWP agenda going forwards? Nicola Nixon on TWP and the localisation agenda
In this short video, Nicola Nixon, Director of Governance at The Asia Foundation, tells us she is most excited to see the TWP agenda engage with more localised and inclusive approaches to development, and to engage with a broader network of interested travellers in this space.
What is most exciting for you about the TWP agenda going forwards? Bruce Byiers on TWP and regional cooperation and integration.
In this short video, Bruce Byiers, Head of African Economic Integration at ECDPM, tells us that TWP needs to move beyond the traditional governance agenda to think and work politically about economic questions, including regional trade and cooperation, understanding the political dynamics around regional organisations, and trade and transport corridors. Interested in this? Watch our recent webinar which explored this topic in more depth.
Why is it important to think and work politically about the Women, Peace and Security Agenda?
In this short video featured in our May 2022 Newsletter, Pilar Domingo (Senior Research Fellow in Politics and Governance at ODI) explains the factors that are key to ensuring that international support to WPS efforts in conflict settings is politically effective and relevant. This includes supporting women’s organisations and movements related to political economy dynamics, providing sustained funding and operational support to these organisations, and engaging in these efforts over the long term.
Thursday 27th April 2023, 12:00 – 13:30 pm BST
Southern Perspectives on international assistance to democracy and human rights: Is donor support fit for purpose?
Wednesday 15th March 2023, 14:00-15:30pm GMT:
Roundtable: Alina Rocha Menocal in conversation with Heather Marquette, Laure-Hélène Piron and Verena Fritz
Monday 5th December 2022, 14:00-16:00pm GMT: Political Economy Analysis and TWP: Learning from 10 years of USAID experience
Thursday 23 June 2022, 10:00-11:30am BST: Thinking and working politically about regional cooperation and integration
Organised in collaboration with EDCPM
Wednesday 30 March 2022: Engaging with Politics: towards smarter international support to revitalise democracy
Organised in collaboration with ODI
Monday 21/ Tuesday 22 March 2022: Localisation and locally led development: An opportunity for thinking and working politically to deliver?
Organised in collaboration with La Trobe University
Thursday 17 February 2022: Thinking Politically about Health Systems Resilience in the context of COVID-19
Organised in collaboration with TPP and DAI Global Health