Early lessons from Urban Agriculture case study
It is important to point out the specific nature of this policy process, and that any lessons should be considered in this context. That being said, some important lessons emerged form this case study, described in detail in the case study report
In summary, some of the key lessons are:
- Decentralisation and national policy processes: Against a background of mixed experiences from the decentralisation processes, here it seems that devolved decision-making has worked in addressing the needs of the poor. It has also stimulated moves towards a national policy change. And in this context, evidence has been aired and discussed in fora which include both stakeholders on the ground and the decision-makers.
- Strong political leadership is a hugely important driver of change. Such people can be influenced to change their minds and finding appropriate strategies to do so can be very important. Possible ways of doing this however, are likely to vary enormously between political contexts.
- Participation and consultation are important and help to ensure the inclusion of appropriate evidence into new policies. Whilst potentially an expensive process, this leads to much better policies. The linking of the evidence with views from field-level stakeholders helped to develop very rational policies and made a very strong case for change.
- Evidence must be used and communicated appropriately, which will differ within and between policy processes. In this case, it involved targeting key people for meetings, use of field visits, and the use of effective internal reporting structures, with less reliance on written material.
- A broad range of evidence, both socio-economic and technical, helped to answer both the why and the how questions during the policy change process. It helped to tell a complete story that was relevant and accessible for the decision-makers.
- Diverse partnerships and networks can be very valuable. The mix of civil society organisations, local and central government and both national and international research organisations brought a breadth of perspectives and expertise. These can, however, be time comsuming and hard to manage.
- ‘Champions’ can play a key role, and can come from different ‘levels’. Identification and support of such people, whether at political or technical level, is likely to be a good investment.
- Multiple strategies may be needed for lobbying and advocacy. Decision makers may be influenced in different ways and a varied approach to advocacy is likely to be more effective. Again, understanding the political context, and working with a range of actors with appropriate capacities, will help ensure that strategies are appropriate and effectively implemented.
- The timely availability of resources can be critical to remove blockages. Donors who can use funds in innovative ways to maintain momentum in policy change processes are likely to result in better outcomes. In this case, the use of funds for (i) community consultation and (ii) facilitation of the drafting and harmonisation processes, ensured that the highly relevant research evidence actually translated into policy change.