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Briefing Notes


The SDC highly values collaboration with research institutes and centres of expertise on poverty issues. On this page, you will find a series of Briefing Notes prepared for the SDC by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI).

 

The Briefing Notes inform readers about poverty issues and policies addressing poverty. They present a condensed and synthesised introduction to current state of the art and have been specifically tailored for the SDC, its partners and interested development practitioners. The notes do not aim to address the full scope of what poverty means and how it can be understood, but rather to highlight several specific issues.

The Briefing Notes section is a collection of individual documents. Readers are encouraged to pick and choose those notes that are of interest and relevance to them. Links and references for further reading are provided in each note.

New Briefing Notes are uploaded regularly on this page. Your comments and questions are most welcome. We look forward to hearing from you.


IDS-SDC Briefing Notes

Briefing Note 08: Opportunities for Using Complexity-Aware Approaches to Theory of Change
Date: 2018-08 | Goodier, Sarah & Apgar, Marina
The purpose of this briefing note is to add to SDC’s understanding of Theory of Change (ToC), drawing on the literature and practice to sketch out the current state of the art approach. This involves expanding on ToC beyond SDC’s current practice of using Impact Hypotheses (IH) to bridge it to operational practice and use ToC more explicitly in the project/programme cycle management (PCM) processes. Sharing the state of the art on use of ToC in the development sector, this briefing note outlines what a ToC is, what it is used for and why it is needed in the development sector. It discusses ToC as both a process and a product, providing step by step guidance on how to facilitate a ToC process. The differences between a ToC and a logframe are highlighted. Some key criteria for recognising when you have a ‘good’ ToC are also included. This brief is aimed at SDC staff, in particular Programme Officers, and staff of partner organisations involved in the management of SDC interventions.

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Briefing Note 07: State of the Art on Use of Theory of Change in the Development Sector
Date: 2018-08 | Goodier, Sarah & Apgar, Marina & Clark, Louise
The purpose of this briefing note is to add to SDC’s understanding of Theory of Change (ToC), drawing on the literature and practice to sketch out the current state of the art approach. This involves expanding on ToC beyond SDC’s current practice of using Impact Hypotheses (IH) to bridge it to operational practice and use ToC more explicitly in the project/programme cycle management (PCM) processes. Sharing the state of the art on use of ToC in the development sector, this briefing note outlines what a ToC is, what it is used for and why it is needed in the development sector. It discusses ToC as both a process and a product, providing step by step guidance on how to facilitate a ToC process. The differences between a ToC and a logframe are highlighted. Some key criteria for recognising when you have a ‘good’ ToC are also included. This brief is aimed at SDC staff, in particular Programme Officers, and staff of partner organisations involved in the management of SDC interventions.

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Briefing Note 06: Equity and Inclusion in Health Programming
Date: 2018-08 | Shankland, Alex & MacGregor, Hayley
Equity and inclusion are key issues for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), given its strong commitment to the Agenda 2030 principle of “leaving no one behind” and to achieving Universal Health Coverage. However, efforts to guarantee equity and inclusion face not only technical and material challenges but also social and political ones, especially in relation to governance and accountability.

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Briefing Note 05: Making Local Governance Inclusive for the 'Leave No One Behind' Agenda
Date: 2018-08 | Mohmand, Shandana
A major aim of decentralised governance is to bring government closer to people and, in the process, deliver services in an equitable and efficient manner, in accordance with the expressed needs of citizens. The fact that government is located within smaller units with better information and a larger number of local representatives can lead to the greater inclusion of marginalised groups in decision-making and in accessing quality services. Viewed from this perspective, decentralisation is usually seen as a positive reform. However, the reform in and of itself is essentially value neutral – not only can it have both positive and negative effects, but its impact is conditioned by the nature of the reform, and the ways in which it is implemented. Decentralisation reforms that are not explicitly designed to include marginalised populations—women, minorities, and the poor—can lead to worsened service delivery and representation outcomes for these groups (Faguet 2014). Its impact in terms of the inclusion of the most vulnerable is dependent on many of the same constraints that affect higher tiers of government – availability of resources, capacity, and very importantly, political will. In other words, inclusive governance is not synonymous with decentralised governance. Decentralisation reforms will only achieve inclusive governance if they explicitly set out to do so.

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Briefing Note 04: Mirror Event on Water and Power
Date: 2017-08 | Mehta, Lyla
Inequality in access to water and sanitation is one of the biggest development challenges of the twenty-first century. In 2015, 663 million people around the globe lacked access to safe drinking water and 2.4 billion people lacked access to improved sanitation with about 946 million people defecating in the open (UNICEF and WHO 2015). This situation undermines good health, nutrition and human dignity and is a global outrage. Accessing water can be particularly challenging for smallholders, vulnerable and marginalised populations, and women. There is no dearth of ideas, fora and meetings regarding how to deal with water challenges. Yet the key challenge remains of how to address water problems in ways that are sustainable, socially just and which consistently address the interests of poorer and marginalised people.

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Briefing Note 03: Light-Touch Mapping of SDC Activities in Social Protection
Date: 2016-03 | Roelen, Keetie & Devereux, Stephen
Social protection is not explicitly mentioned as part of SDC’s strategic objectives 2017- 2020 or listed as a SDC priority theme (as outlined in ‘Dispatch 2017-2020’). Yet many SDC country offices do engage with social protection – either through their support of wider policy frameworks or by providing input into specific interventions. As social protection is not a separate theme within SDC, there is no direct overview of activities that are undertaken in this area across the organisation. This note presents findings of a light-touch mapping exercise aiming to obtain insight into the ongoing engagements with social protection across SDC. It is based on information obtained from geographical divisions guided by a basic definition of social protection.

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Briefing Note 02: Agency Positions on Social Protection
Date: 2016-03 | Devereux, Stephen & Roelen, Keetie
Social protection emerged as a significant strand of development policy in the 1990s, out of the ‘social safety nets’ that dominated government and agency responses to socioeconomic crises such as HIV and AIDS, structural adjustment programmes, political transitions in former socialist countries, and the Asian financial crisis. Poor people across the world have no insurance against such shocks, nor against natural disasters that threaten their lives and livelihoods, and they have no access to savings, unemployment benefits or pensions when they retire. Social protection therefore evolved as a mechanism for alleviating poverty and assisting people to survive lifecycle and livelihood shocks.

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Briefing Note 01: 'Hot Topics' in Social Protection
Date: 2016-03 | Author: Roelen, Keetie & Devereux, Stephen
Social protection has become an inherent element of the development response and is one of the success stories of development policy in the early twenty-first century. It is widely considered to expand and remain an important part of the development agenda in the years ahead. This is reflected in the Agenda 2030 and recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), highlighting social protection’s role in the eradication of poverty, improvement of gender equality and reduction of within and between country inequalities.

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ODI Briefing Notes

Briefing Note 1: Understanding Poverty: This brief introduces different concepts of understanding and measuring poverty – ranging from absolute, income-based definitions of poverty to multi-dimensional definitions including aspects of social exclusion. It concludes that there is no single correct definition of poverty, but that poverty discussions need to acknowledge particular social, cultural and historical contexts and that policy implications differ according to the way poverty is defined.

  Download (PDF, 237 KB):[en]

 

Briefing Note 2: Perceptions of Poverty: This Brief focuses on different perceptions of poverty; how it is perceived by poor people themselves, people who are not poor, and by development practitioners. In order to have a more complete picture of poverty, it is important to take into account subjective perceptions as well as objective measures. By taking perceptions into account, the dimensions of poverty that are important to poor people themselves can emerge, thereby contributing to a better understanding of the nature, causes and potential paths out of poverty.

  Download (PDF, 134 KB):[en]
 

Briefing Note 3: Risks and Vulnerability: This brief argues that understanding risk and risk aversion is important when seeking to understand poverty. Exposure and vulnerability to risk overlap with poverty, but they are not synonymous. All people face risks - the point is how people, especially the poor, are able to deal with them. Measures to reduce risk and vulnerability are gaining importance on the development agenda, and it is increasingly recognised that reducing risks and vulnerability is essential for poverty reduction.

  Download (PDF, 171 KB):[en]
 

Briefing Note 4: North-South Inequality: This brief presents a number of ways inequality is conceptualised - between the developed North and the developing South; between individual countries; within countries; and between individuals. Inequality occurs both as inequality of outcomes (e.g. different levels of income or life expectancy) and as inequality of opportunity (e.g. through discrimination and exclusion). The brief concludes that ignoring inequality in the pursuit of economic growth and income generation is an ineffective strategy, as there is a pronounced danger that this will lead to the accumulation of wealth by a few and a deepening of the poverty of many.

  Download (PDF, 271 KB):[en]
 

Briefing Note 5: Inequality, Power and Social Exclusion in India: This brief explores the somewhat paradoxical state of affairs in India with regards to 'inequality, power and social exclusion'. On the one hand, since its independence India has demonstrated a longstanding political willingness to recognise different forms of inequality and exclusion and to use constitutional and legislative measures to address them. On the other hand, there continue to be large disparities in poverty levels, mortality rates, educational attainments and access to resources between regions, social groups and between men and women.

  Download (PDF, 294 KB):[en]
 

Briefing Note 7: The OECD/DAC Poverty and Pro-Poor Growth Framework: This brief presents the multidimensional definition of poverty as promoted by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the OECD. The DAC suggests that poverty definitions should be context-specific and should encompass the key deprivations faced by poor women and men. Donors, therefore, need to recognise the specific country context and be able to identify the binding political, social and economic factors that either drive or block change in a country.

  Download (PDF, 193 KB):[en]
 

Briefing Note 8: Millenium Development Goals: This Briefing Note discusses the foundations of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), presents the goals, and discusses the pros and cons of these time-bound and specific goals and targets. It summarises some of the debates around the MDGs such as uneven progress in reaching the MDGs across regions, the thematic structure of the MDGs, or problems related to measuring success. The brief concludes that despite a number of shortcomings, the MDGs are a unique effort to galvanise international action around on set of development targets and an important tool to leverage action from the powerful.

  Download (PDF, 228 KB):[en]
 

Briefing Note 9: Poverty Reduction Strategies: This Brief presents the history of PRSPs and highlights the key areas in which progress has been made over the past years: the long way from failed World Bank/IMF approaches of structural adjustment programmes (SAP) towards today’s second and third generation PRSs in which the political objective of poverty reduction is being reflected, rather than just providing another technocratic tool. In this spirit, it is a promising sign that underlying principles of the PRSP are increasingly being incorporated into regular planning processes and that PRSPs have turned into growth strategies and national development plans with much more country ownership. The briefing note finally illustrates the difficulties for donors to ensure long-term aid delivery with little policy conditionality, while local taxpayers still require short–term tangible results. 
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Briefing Note 10: Equity and Empowerment: This paper introduces the concepts of empowerment and equity and discusses how interlinked these two concepts are. It highlights the benefits of a development agenda that focuses simultaneously on empowerment and equity, and suggests what such an agenda might look like. Empowerment of poor and marginalised people and equity contribute to both wellbeing and the achievement of equality. They also tend to reinforce one another, as both contribute to addressing inequalities, which in turn drive imbalances in power. Empowerment and equity can be seen as ends in their own right, from a moral or social justice perspective, and also as processes or principles that contribute to development’s core goals of reducing poverty and inequality. <>

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 Briefing Note 11: Using the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework to Understand and Tackle Poverty: This briefing note presents the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework (SLF) developed by DFID. SLFs enable coherent analysis of livelihoods, risk, vulnerability and poverty. They are powerful tools for identifying the key drivers of poverty, the factors that push people into poverty, and the potential interrupters or factors that provide pathways out of poverty. The focus of this brief is on the analytical framework and lesson how the SLF can guide practitioners to develop pro-poor programmes.

  Download (PDF, 254 KB):[en]
 

Briefing Note 12: Rural Livelihoods Systems: This brief presents an adaptation to the DFID livelihoods framework. It is based on a shift in emphasis of sustainability away from a single focus to a much more holistic – and complex – exploration of sustainability. With this shift the targeting of development interventions can be improved by better understanding life-worlds, worldviews, (inner) perspectives and visions of individuals and households that guide their decision-making process. Using the RLS framework can provide the platform for selecting the most appropriate entry point for poverty reduction.

  Download (PDF, 369 KB):[en]
 

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