NUPI, CMI, the University of Agder and PRIO have since 2016 collaborated on the project Political economy analyses, where the researchers have looked at how institutions and different actors in politics affect the economy, and vice versa. The result is eleven reports analysing the situation in terms of political economy in eleven countries.
Poverty, war and natural disasters
The countries that have been analyzed are all up against big challenges like poverty, previous or ongoing wars or civil wars, corruption, and the aftermaths of natural disasters. Norway is supporting development projects in all the countries that has been analyzed.
- It is necessary to have a thorough understanding of the political situation in these countries. This is so that we are able to design realistic politics and development projects that can achieve the goals that are set. Without an understanding of the local context, there will always be a risk that the project is unfit for the community where it is supposed to be carried out, says Project Manager and Research Professor at NUPI, Stein Sundstøl Eriksen.
- An incredibly difficult situation
Eriksen explains that there are huge differences in the eleven countries that have been placed under the research microscope.
- The situation in countries defined as fragile – Afghanistan, South Sudan, Mali and Haiti – and in Myanmar, is very difficult. Here we find ongoing conflicts and very weak institutions and governing systems, he says.
Things are looking better in countries defined as development partners.
- But they do have many fundamental problems, and several countries has had a disturbing development, says Eriksen.
He wants to give the following policy recommendations to Norwegian authorities:
- First of all: Adjust the aid to the situation locally. Secondly: Think far ahead. Thirdly: Have clearheaded and realistic ambitions, and do not believe that one can fundamentally change the countries one is operating in. There have been tendencies to wishful thinking and a bit too optimistic expectation to what is possible to achieve with development projects. In some cases, this way of thinking can even aggravate the situation, but the most common outcome is that one does not achieve what one hoped for, Eriksen says.