By Lambe F., Ran Y., Jürisoo M., Holmlid S., Muhoza C., Johnson O. and

Osborne M.

Many interventions that aim to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable people in low-income settings fail because the behavior of the people intended to benefit is not well understood and /or not reflected in the design of interventions. Methods for understanding and situating human behavior in the context of development interventions tend to emphasize experimental approaches to objectively isolate key drivers of behavior. However, such methods often do not account for the importance of contextual factors and the wider system. In this paper we propose a conceptual framework to support intervention design that links behavioral insights with service design, a branch of the creative field of design. To develop the framework, we use three case studies conducted in Kenya and Zambia focusing on the uptake of new technologies and services by individuals and households. We demonstrate how the framework can be useful for mapping individuals’ experiences of a new technology or service and, based on this, identify key parameters to support lasting behavior change. The framework reflects how behavior change takes place in the context of complex social-ecological systems – that change over time, and in which a diverse range of actors operate at different levels – with the aim of supporting the design and delivery of more robust development-oriented interventions.

Read the full article here: doi:10.1016/j.worlddev.2019.104703.

By Jake Lomax, Matthew Osborne, Vane Aminga, Naho Mirumachi & Oliver Johnson

International development aid is widely considered essential to support climate adaptation efforts in low-income countries. There has been a rapid increase in the number and geographic range of case studies reporting outcomes of low-carbon development projects, while a limited number of complementary analytical frameworks have also been produced to enable insights to be translated into tangible guidelines and recommendations for policy makers. A particularly important outcome from this body of research has been to demonstrate how poor design and implementation of these projects can create significant negative socio-economic and ecological outcomes at a local level. However, unpicking the causal mechanisms through which these unintended outcomes are created within complex systems remains a challenge. Making use of Sovacool et al.’s (2015) influential 4Es framework and combining it with the ‘Mechanisms of Social Change’ (MOSC) language for analysing systems, our study aims to provide an approach for setting out causal pathways that explain how the implementation of adaptation projects creates negative as well as positive impacts. To illustrate this approach, we map the system of solar mini-grid projects in northern Kenya and use this to analyse impact on local communities. We suggest that this approach can strengthen analysis of existing climate change programmes and support better design of future adaptation interventions.

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By Jake Lomax, Vane Aminga & Matthew Osborne

In response to climate change, significant volumes of aid have been either allocated, re-allocated, or redefined to support developing countries’ adaptation efforts (Donner et al. 2016). Just as aid has long created winners and losers (Gibson et al. 2005), the same is true of development aid projects to support climate change adaptation projects.

Eliye mini-grid in Turkana County, Kenya

As such it is important to understand the political economy of such projects (see e.g. Sovacool and Linnér 2016, Chu 2016, Chu et al. 2016). An influential typology for analysing the political economy of adaptation projects was proposed by Sovacool et al. (2015). This sets out four types of change process: enclosure, exclusion, encroachment and entrenchment (4Es hereafter), by which certain groups or actors may benefit from adaptation systems at the expense of others. These all describe processes by which the system changes, and how relative benefits accrued change as a result. The 4E typology is one of the analytical frameworks used by the Conflict Prevention and Low-Carbon Development research project led by SEI.

The argument of a recent working paper under this project's first work package is that the analysis of system dynamics is usefully situated in an analysis of the system structure. And hence we should improve our understanding of how frameworks for analysis of systems dynamics, such as the 4Es, may be combined with tools for analysing system structures, such as system mapping.

The paper sought to illustrate how one approach to system mapping can be combined with the 4E typology of processes. This serves to set the 4E processes in the context in the actions, actors and resources that comprise the existing system, and thus helps to connect the 4E processes to observed empirical reality.

The paper describes experience gained from analysis of the solar electricity system in Turkana, Kenya. The social system was mapped to present the sequential set of actions that comprise the social system, then the 4Es were analysed in the context of this system map. An example is provided of how this mapping informs construction of causal pathways from adaptation projects through to impact. The implications for operationalizing the 4Es are discussed alongside possible insights into the nature of the 4E framing.

Access working paper on the Stockholm Environment Institute website:

Cite the paper: Osborne, M., Aminga, V. and Lomax, J. (2020). Causal pathways in the political economy of adaptation projects Experience from mapping the solar electricity system in Turkana, Kenya. SEI Working Paper. Stockholm Environment Institute, Stockholm.