IS CLASH OF INSTITUTIONS A CAUSE OF RURAL POVERTY?

Lead Research Organisation: Wageningen University
Department Name: Social Sciences

Abstract

Category: Resource Constraints

Access to resources is regulated through institutions. For example, in parts of Africa if a widow wishes to invest in a farm she may not be able to do so because the land is owned by her late husband's family. The institution of land ownership determines her poverty. Institutions are sometimes defined as the "rules of the game". Escape from poverty depends on the rules determining access to vital resources. Sometimes the market is the institution that prevails. Land or seeds can be bought. In such a case the rules governing market transactions are generally clearly specified and upheld by courts. For this reason the market is often termed a "formal" institution. But in other cases the "rules of the game" are tacit and locally variable. Communities may have varying notions of how individuals or families should acquire land, whether a young men has to supply labour "free" to those who give him a wife, or whether seeds are communal heritage not to be bought or sold. These customary rules are not always documented and protected by national law. Such institutions are termed "informal". Real societies are a historically determined mix of varied and sometimes competing "formal" and "informal" institutions.

It is sometimes proposed that "clash of institutions" (e.g. tensions between a land market and family rules of land inheritance) is a factor determining poverty in developing countries. Serfdom and family land tenure have been proposed as sources of conflict and poverty in some war-affected African countries. The advance of the market is widely seen as a solution to poverty in such circumstances, but it is not always clear how this advance is to be engineered where community informal rules defend the common interest of the poor (as in the case of African "family" land tenure, for example). Adding further to the analytic challenge are the different traditions of institutional analysis. Economists, for example, may treat only "formal" institutions, while anthropologists fly to the other extreme, and study only those "informal" institutions deeply embedded in local cultures. A bias to either extreme is not a sound basis for objective assessment.

The present research is a cooperation between anthropologists and economists intended to ensure a rounded approach to the full range of institutions at play in determining poverty and poverty-alleviation. The work will be done in a conflict-recovery region because war often leads to the collapse of institutional arrangements, and post-war recovery reveals how prior institutional arrangements are rebuilt or new ones devised, and whether old (or new) clashes re-ignite. The idea of an institution as "rules of the game" is the key to our research strategy, since we deploy an experimental methodology based on games devised by both disciplines to test key hypotheses concerning institutional behaviour. We run these games with village populations to assess (through statistical means) whether and to what extent institutional values clash - e.g. whether patronage relations inhibit profit maximizing behaviour. We then work with participants to develop a reflexive understanding of the institutional values in play, where conflict exists, and where it could be eased, especially to the benefit of the poorest and most marginalized groups. We think the results will be important to a wide range of stakeholders, starting with village participants, but also to civil society groups, development agencies and government policy makers implementing post-war recovery and reform programmes, and to entrepreneurs seeking to provide new services such as seed supply and rural banking. The work will be done in Sierra Leone and cross-border communities in Liberia and Guinea - a heavily war-affected region. There will be case studies on land, labour, seeds and rural credit.

Planned Impact

In addition to academic impact (as described under "Academic beneficiaries") the project aims to provide new insights for governmental and non-governmental organizations concerned with market reform, development and post-conflict reconstruction. In Sierra Leone, there are currently a number of policy debates and reconstruction initiatives aimed at reform of informal institutions (focusing on land tenure and family law, for example). Our work intends to facilitate debate and intervention around these issues by providing a clearer framework for thinking about formal-informal institutional interaction effects. Better knowledge of institutional interaction dynamics should assist policymakers, civil society activists and rural development organizations to better articulate their reform goals and to shape tailor-made interventions (in particular those addressed to the needs of historically marginalized groups of women and youth).

A number of sector-specific stakeholder groups in Sierra Leone engaged with this reform agenda have expressed interest in our research. These include (i) the Governance Stakeholder Forum, which includes all relevant organizations that work on governance issues and invite experts to share and translate knowledge into concrete actions and (ii) the Governance Transparency Working Group which includes previous DFID grantees that work with various local partners and (iii) the network belonging to the Partners in Conflict Transformation program. Professor Conteh's connections with the rural banking and agri-business sector will also be important as a pathway to impact for our findings in the rapidly changing agricultural sector. We also intend to further develop our links with the conservation sector through the policy advice and research results we currently make available to the Gola Forest Project and Trans-Boundary Peace Park.

Change in informal institutions can only, eventually, come from within, so it is also very important that we create impact pathways for communicating results of village experiments to villagers themselves. Anthropological observations upon these experiments have proven, already, to be an interesting way to generate an agenda of discussion points for engaging villagers in reflexive debates about how local, informal institutions work, and whether and how they might work differently. We plan to make this kind of "debriefing debate" a more regular part of our research output, and will seek to organise village feedback as research results take shape. This will be a particular responsibility for the Njala team under guidance of Professor Richards. They will then look for opportunities to incorporate the approach in the regular work of civil society consortia currently working towards rural institutional reform in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

Workshop activity for stakeholders, at the beginning of the project, will be an important means to open up some of these pathways to impact, and to generate interest in the study among members of the potential user community. These activities are fully budgeted within the proposal.

We also intend to convene a small advisory board of key academic/policy experts (a combined team of top anthropologists and economists) for quality assurance throughout the project and provide for yet another channel to disseminate our research to the wider academic community and (international) policy arena. Wageningen University will bear all costs associated with having a functional advisory board. We will seek to invite them at the stakeholder workshop and envision another meeting halfway through the project. In between we will consult them through virtual meetings including webinars, conference calls and email correspondence.
 
Description We report several key findings related to this grant.

During 2014-2015 Sierra Leone and neighboring countries were hit by an Ebola outbreak, the largest ever recorded. We show that social factors, such as mobility, where people turn to for help, and processes related to marriage, funerals and land tenure are key to understanding the Ebola outbreak as well as possible remedies to stop it. In addition, we show how local institutions, such as chiefs and local task forces, played a key role in curbing the spread of the disease, especially in places where the government and international response was limited.

We look back at the Sierra Leone civil war and find no evidence that the conflict was fueled by either predatory institutions or resources, suggesting researchers should look beyond the popular greed and grievance explanations for explaining the onset of conflict.

We assess if identity of the manager (local elites or selected villagers) of a community driven development program (CDD) implemented by an NGO, influences rent seeking and project performance. We compare the effectiveness of these two alternative local governance modalities and find little evidence that local elites capture project resources. We do observe they are better managers of development projects. In addition, improved performance co-varies with the power of the local chief, more authoritarian chiefs seems to undermine the performance of parallel institutions created by NGOs. This implied a dilemma between short-term efficiency in project implementation versus long-term implications of
imbalanced power relationships.

We evaluated the (long run) effects of a large-scale CDD program in Sierra Leone. The program, implemented between 2004 and 2009, devolved financial and implementation control over aid resources to communities, accompanied by intensive social facilitation. Preliminary results suggest there are substantial positive public goods and economic effects. In addition, we find weak evidence for improvements in collective action, but no evidence of other institutional changes. These results are directly informative for policy makers involved in CDD programs.
Exploitation Route The Ebola response community has used the insights generated in this project for designing and improving Ebola response strategies.

Key insights emerging from our work on CDD will be directly informative for those working on CDD programs world wide.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Environment,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice

URL http://clashofinstitutions.com/
 
Description We report on two key policy impacts of our project. First, during 2014-2015 Sierra Leone and neighboring countries were hit by an Ebola outbreak. Eventually, the crisis engulfed the country, totaling 8706 confirmed cases and 3956 deaths. During the crisis we actively contributed to and commented on policies to help stop the crisis. We maintained in close contact with key Sierra Leone policy makers and international organizations. Our team has been actively participating in providing input, through written documents, discussions online, by phone, in meetings with CDC, DFID, WHO and the British Army, FAO, the Ebola Response Consortium in Sierra Leone. Members of our team co-founded the Ebola Anthropology Platform to help link policy maker questions to research experts. Our work and the creation of the Ebola Anthropology Platform signifies that high quality social science research is possible in an unfolding crisis, generating timely information vital to an adequate Ebola response. As a testimony of the work, members of the team were awarded the ESRC Outstanding International Impact Prize. In the post Ebola period, we are heavily involved in helping to shape the national One Health strategy and integrated community based disease surveillance systems, thereby directly contributing to policy making. Second, we evaluated the (long run) effects of a large-scale community driven development (CDD) program in Sierra Leone. The program, implemented between 2004 and 2009, devolved financial and implementation control over aid resources to communities, accompanied by intensive social facilitation. Preliminary results suggest positive public goods and economic effects. In addition, we find weak evidence for improvements in collective action, but no evidence of other institutional changes. These results are directly informative for policy makers in the Decentralization Secretariat in Sierra Leone, and international organizations engaged in CDD programs (such as the World Bank, DFID, the IRC). funds.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic

 
Description Advise on post ebola surveilance activities in Gola National Rainforest Sierra Leone
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Impact We frequently advise on program design for the Gola Rainforest National Park who work on animal monitoring, community engagement, livelihoods development in a critical region where Ebola is thought to have first spilled over to humans.
 
Description Capacity Building
Geographic Reach Africa 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact We organised a capacity building workshop at Njala University during 20-24 January 2014. We invited Prof. Macartan Humphreys from the Department of Political Science, of Columbia University/ Columbia Center for the Study of Development Strategies and Prof. Erwin Bulte, Development Economics Group, Wageningen University to teach on experimental methods for impact evaluation. 10 prospective PhD students and university staff participated. Since the workshop they have become actively engaged in the research work and are applying survey and experimental methods in their work.
 
Description Ebola response advice
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Impact We have had frequent discussions with key policy makers in Sierra Leone on their response strategies to Ebola, and their post ebola community engagement and surveilance activities.
 
Description Ebola Response Focus Groups
Amount £40,000 (GBP)
Organisation GOAL Ireland 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country Ireland
Start 11/2014 
End 12/2014
 
Description Electricity and productivity in Sierra Leone, Electrifying growth: Electricity access for productive use
Amount £380,000 (GBP)
Organisation Oxford Policy Management 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2018 
End 09/2020
 
Description Electrifying Growth Electricity access for productive use in Sierra Leone
Amount £85,000 (GBP)
Organisation International Growth Centre (IGC) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2018 
End 09/2020
 
Description Global Challenges Program
Amount € 599,837 (EUR)
Organisation Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) 
Sector Public
Country Netherlands
Start 11/2014 
End 11/2019
 
Description JPAL Governance Initiative
Amount $49,991 (USD)
Organisation JPAL - The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab 
Sector Private
Country United States
Start 01/2017 
End 04/2017
 
Description Preparedness against Ebola and other emerging infectious diseases in Sierra Leone and Guinea
Amount € 910,000 (EUR)
Organisation Royal Netherlands Embassy Ghana 
Sector Public
Country Ghana
Start 09/2016 
End 09/2018
 
Description Recruitment and Monitoring of Community Animal Health Workers in Sierra Leone
Amount £19,834 (GBP)
Organisation International Growth Centre (IGC) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2018 
End 10/2018
 
Description VENI
Amount € 250,000 (EUR)
Organisation Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) 
Sector Public
Country Netherlands
Start 01/2015 
End 01/2019
 
Description iSEED
Amount $40,000 (USD)
Organisation Stanford University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United States
Start 11/2016 
End 04/2017
 
Title Questionnaire on rural access to health 
Description Questionnaire on rural access to health in 25 villages in rural Sierra Leone, implemented during the Ebola outbreak in 2014. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Data was used to write impact narratives of Ebola and describe transmission pathways. Reports available via http://clashofinstitutions.com/documents/smac-reports-2/. Reports were used by Ebola Response Platform in Sierra Leone and widely shared via Ebola Response Anthropology Platform www.ebola-anthropology.net/ Currently data are being used for further analysis. Data will be shared subsequently. 
URL http://clashofinstitutions.com/documents/smac-reports-2
 
Description EGAP 
Organisation Experiments in Governance and Politics (EGAP)
Country Global 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution M. Voors joined as a member of EGAP. EGAP members provide academic input in research design, analysis and interpretation.
Collaborator Contribution EGAP members provide academic input in research design, analysis and interpretation.
Impact none at this point
Start Year 2014
 
Description Ebola platform 
Organisation Institute of Development Studies
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution P. Richards is part of the Ebola Anthropology Platform. A platform with anthropologists from around the world providing advice on how to engage with crucial socio-cultural and political dimensions of the Ebola outbreak and build locally-appropriate interventions
Collaborator Contribution Discussions, knowledge content, etc
Impact Most outputs are various discussions fora.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Book launch Paul Richards 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Paul Richards launched his book on "Ebola - How a peoples science helped end an epidemic" at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicin. An introduction was provided by Peter Piot.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://panopto.lshtm.ac.uk/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=ee42b6b6-f8b8-4363-ad63-053d435d0e01
 
Description Book review of Paul Richards book on Ebola 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Book review of Paul Richards book Ebola. How a peoples science helped end an epidemic, by Peter Piot in Nature:http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v537/n7621/full/537484a.html
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v537/n7621/full/537484a.html
 
Description Capacity Building PI Training 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact We organised a capacity building workshop at in Ghana during April 2015. Co-organised with EGAP and CDD, we invited Prof. Macartan Humphreys from the Department of Political Science, of Columbia University/ Columbia Center for the Study of Development Strategies and Prof. Dan Nielson, Department of Political Science at Brigham Young University to teach on experimental methods for impact evaluation for African Principle Investigators, see
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://egap.org/content/learning-days-3-ghana-design-development-workshop-pis
 
Description Capacity Building PI Training 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact We organised a capacity building workshop at Njala University during 20-24 January 2014. We invited Prof. Macartan Humphreys from the Department of Political Science, of Columbia University/ Columbia Center for the Study of Development Strategies and Prof. Erwin Bulte, Development Economics Group, Wageningen University to teach on experimental methods for impact evaluation.

Participating staff and students of Njala University, Sierra Leone are more actively engaged in research design, implementation and analysis.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Ebola Conference Njala Univeristy 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact We co-organised, with LSHTM and Njala University, a conference on Ebola in Anthropological perspective. The conference was attended by researchers who work on the Ebola epidemic, policy makers and practitioners. During the three day conference, participants presented academic papers and discussed lessons learned from the crisis. Participants came from many countries including Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, USA, UK, the Netherlands.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Ebola preparedness public meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact We organised a workshop involving local stakeholders involved in the Ebola response in Eastern Sierra Leone. During the workshop leaders and representatives from across Sierra Leone came to Daru Chiefdom to discuss their experiences and actions taken during the Ebola outbreak.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description News Paper Article Financial Times 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Paul Richards book on Ebola was quoted in the Financial Times "The slow road to progress: why is Sierra Leone's maternal mortality rate so high?",see https://www.ft.com/content/8205b21e-7b44-11e6-ae24-f193b105145e
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.ft.com/content/8205b21e-7b44-11e6-ae24-f193b105145e
 
Description Workshop and Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact We organised a policy-research conference and workshop at Njala University on the spread and impact of Ebola. Participation included NGOs (IRC, Action Against Hunger, GOAL, Restless Development, Royal Tropical Institute Netherlands), research and policy institutes in Guinea (IRAG) and Sierra Leone (FAO country office), university staff from Njala University and Wageningen University and representatives from local institutions (Paramount Chiefs and Sowei Leaders). We had presentations and indepth discussions. In addition we planned followup collaborative activities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.facebook.com/developmenteconomicswageningen/posts/419816414871643