Dear PSIA CoP Members,
I would like to share with you all an interview conducted by our team when we first launched the CoP. Back then this interview was only featured on our Spark page, as we didn't have a C4D channel. We hope you'll enjoy learning more from Stefania's experience on a successful PSIA on Bhutan's cultural heritage (document attached).
Why PSIA? Why did you choose PSIA over any other bank instrument or product?
The PSIA focus on the analysis of the likely impacts of policy reforms on the well-being of different stakeholders, especially the poor, provided the team and our client with the best analytical approach to predict ex ante what the economic and social impacts of the draft Heritage Sites Bill could be before it was adopted. Through empirical evidence and stakeholder engagement, it also informed the Bill’s further design by identifying gaps, possible negative impacts, and mitigation strategies (what ended up being a set of incentives). The PSIA also provided the team and our client with a powerful but simple framework for analysis (its transmission channels), and a rich menu of qualitative and quantitative methods which were combined and carried out sequentially under this first-of-its-kind poverty analysis of a cultural policy.
What was the most embarrassing/challenging moment while working on this PSIA?
One challenging moment was when the field research team reached Takchu Goenpa, one of the four selected villages for the primary data collection. The village was largely uninhabited due to unexpected early seasonal migration to lower pastures during the proposed time of the field research. The team had to return to Thimphu and a new village had to be selected and all arrangements made within a very tight timeframe. An embarrassing moment was to learn that the printed reports would not arrive on time for the final dissemination workshop with the Home Minister (the reports were stuck first in DC due to a snow storm and later in Bangkok during the weekend). I had to spend the entire weekend printing color copies and the government team made miracles to make them presentable to the Home Minister. At last, the beautiful reports arrived the next day and were sent to the participants.
If you had to do this PSIA over, what would you do differently, based on the lessons learned from this one?
As the first PSIA of a cultural policy carried out by the Bank (and perhaps elsewhere), the entire process was a learning. I would certainly request more funds for a similar PSIA (!), and add to the scope of work at least one a priori inter-institutional workshop with all concerned agencies to share its scope and methodology within a larger platform. We shared its scope in a one-on-one basis and had funds to organized only one inter-institutional workshop for its final dissemination (which was truly inspiring).
What are the top three things TTLs should always keep in mind when working on a PSIA?
One of the main success factors of this PSIA was the total collaboration with our clients in its making. Their full involvement from its conceptualization to the write up of the final report has not only assured a clear set up of the PSIA assumptions and instruments, but also led to more meaningful recommendations and above all greater ownership. In the end, the PSIA was annexed to the Bill itself. The team cross-sectoral and multidisciplinary composition was important to ensure a sound analysis and internal acceptance of findings. This was particularly important given that some in the Bank (not in Bhutan) are still skeptical about the role of culture in development. Our Sr. Country Economist at the time played a key role in the poverty data analysis and later presentation, which revealed the geography of poverty in the country. Despite the high cultural significance of heritage villages in Bhutan, from a poverty perspective, the PSIA showed that the poor are more likely to inhabit houses constructed of traditional materials. This unbiased and well-presented finding (by him) could not be challenge...
What do you do when you are not doing a PSIA?
In Bhutan, I happily explored the villages we visited, went to cafes with Bhutanese friends in Thimphu, read tons of books about the country and its traditions, and enjoyed buying a Kira for my meetings with the PM and Home Minister. In DC, I shared these stories with my daughters and keep dreaming of my next work on and visit to the country (with my family).
Stefania Abakerli is an urban planner and architect trained in Brazil and U.K. with over 20 years of professional experience in the fields of participatory governance, local development planning, urban poverty, environmental stewardship and cultural heritage. Staff member of the World Bank since 2002, she has led the design and management of multi-sectoral lending and institutional strengthening programs mostly in Latin America and Africa. As the Coordinator of the Cultural Heritage Thematic Group in Latin America and currently in South Asia, she has contributed to advance the Bank’s current thinking and practice on the transforming role of culture in development effectiveness and poverty reduction. Prior to joining the Bank, she managed distinctive local development programs; undertook policy and action oriented research on urban poverty and culture and development; lectured on the sociology of city planning and management at University; and managed her own firm devoted to development planning of culturally-sensitive regions and low income urban settlements in Brazil.