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Research : Development policies and livelihood realities

Research theme coordinator: Urs Geiser

dsa Publications  

Research project 1: Development policies and livelihood realities
(PhD project by Julia Gruenenfelder)

During the past decades, a series of regional and sectoral policies to fight poverty and create livelihood opportunities have been designed and implemented by the state of Pakistan through its provincial governments and with the support of various donors. Through recent initiatives for decentralisation, the state attempts to bring these policies closer to civil society, households and individual people, and to give them an opportunity to engage in policy formulation processes.

Despite all efforts, many households still lack power and voice to access such programmes and to put their needs on an agenda. Thus, the overarching research question of this project is: Why do certain households still lack access to development interventions, policy-formulation processes, and decision-making activities?

Concerning Pakistan, there have been several studies on decentralisation and participation in Natural Resource Management, on livelihood resources and vulnerability and on access to natural resources (see also list of publications). But little research has been undertaken, on the one hand, on the interface between development policies' formulation and implementation mechanisms, and, on the other hand, on people's livelihood realities, e.g. on people's specific needs and expectations towards policies.

The core hypothesis of this research project is that problems at this interface contribute - as key factor - to the circumstance that many households cannot benefit from development efforts. With this hypothesis, the research links up with recent studies on the relationship between policy models and the practices they are supposed to generate (Mosse 2004, Geiser 2006), on the way policy processes and development interventions work (Keeley 2001, Mosse 2004), on the discursive and political context of policy processes (Keeley & Scoones 1999) and on values and assumptions of programme managers (Mustafa 2002).

Research project 2: Implementation and Impact of the Millennium Development Goals
(MSc thesis by Simon Thoma)

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are expected to provide a common basis for development activities. Cooperation between actors can be facilitated because of increased consistency and comparability of development programmes, and activities can be coordinated more easily to improve the efficiency and thus the overall impact of development assistance. Furthermore, the use of a common set of indicators makes it easy to compare the results achieved in different regions and through different programmes.

In Pakistan, the national government has integrated the MDGs into its policies and poverty reduction strategies. UN agencies, international financial institutes, NGOs/CSOs and bilateral agencies have committed themselves to special efforts towards the MDGs. Whether these commitments and new policies have been able to bring essential changes to the development activities in the country has yet to be proved.

In his Master thesis, Simon Thoma focuses on main social services (health and education) as well as on MDG 1 which is related to income generation and food security, and attempts to answer the following questions:

Has cooperation between development actors been intensified through the MDGs?
How are the MDGs implemented by the different actors? Have the MDGs been integrated into policies and programmes on provincial, district and local level? Do the MDGs contribute to accelerated development? What approaches are chosen to integrate the MDGs into strategies and programmes? Is reliable statistical data available for monitoring the development process?

ewq Thoma S. 2007. Implementation and impact of the Millennium Development Goals on development policies in Pakistan. Master Thesis at the Department of Geography, University of Zurich. (download executive summary)
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