1) Why PSIA? Why did you choose PSIA over any other bank instrument or product?
I think the obvious reason is that PSIA provides teams with dedicated funding - for analytical work but it also opens up the opportunity to do good qualitative analysis, which is less usual for among bank Trust Funds/instruments. We used it in Myanmar, in Community Driven Development work in the Philippines, as well as on China (focusing more on social inclusion issues). It allows you to do focused analytical work with both quantitative and qualitative elements to help inform policy dialogue or further improve large-scale operations.
2) What was the most embarrassing/challenging moment while working on the PSIA you conducted, for example the one in Myanmar?
I think all the PSIAs I’ve been involved in had different challenges - since the contexts were so different. In the Myanmar work there were two challenging elements: one was making sure that while we were doing the work we were also building the capacity of the local research partner. The research firm we worked with had amazing local knowledge and field research capacity, and we worked in very close collaboration (very hands on) to provide additional support on the data analysis front. The other side of the spectrum was the policy dialogue: once you have this wealth of information it’s important to be able to prioritize the most policy relevant issues from the broad range of the things you found - those that can really be taken forward with the operational work and in policy dialogue with Government counterparts. For example on the Myanmar energy PSIA, a lot of our analysis focused on what to do to make sure that the most vulnerable groups within the communities do have access to electricity as the network expands, and there’s a range of solutions/recommendations that came out of the analysis: subsidies to communities, putting in place mechanisms to ensure that the participatory planning is inclusive, etc.. However, there are some trade-offs in terms of what government can take on and what they cannot, and being selective/strategic is very important.
3) If you had to do this PSIA over, what would you do differently, based on the lessons learned from this one?
On the Myanmar work a key lesson would be to make sure to have a stronger connection with government staff from the beginning of the analysis to make sure they participate more actively in the design of the research, understand the methodology in greater detail. We tried very hard to do this but did not get as far as we expected on that front. Building government counterpart’s capacity to manage similar type research in the future will be very important going forward.
4) Any recommendations for TTLs working on PSIAs – what are the top three things TTLs should always keep in mind when working on a PSIA.
The first thing is being very mindful of the kinds of questions you are picking, making sure that they’re policy-relevant, beyond questions in which we (within teams) have a particular interest. You need to choose questions that are priority questions for Government and address specific policy concerns, that will help improve delivery of particular programs for example. Second, every time that you are combining qualitative with quantitative approaches, the “marriage” can be a little tricky depending on what you are working on and what kind of research partner you may be able to mobilize. It’s important to make sure that both elements can complement each other well, are well sequenced and methodological solid. Third, it’s very important to invest sufficient resources in the dissemination portion of the PSIA work. Once you have your findings at hand it’s key to make them widely available and a central part of the discussion on the “what’s next”. Research is really important but so is the practical application of it!
5) How can we take PSIA forward after the MDTF ends?
This is a difficult question. In most of the operational work we do “complementary” analysis is trust funded. In Myanmar, PSIA funds were programmed together with ESMAP (Energy) trust fund resources, and in the Philippines the analysis conducted through PSIA (on access to land by Indigenous Peoples) was also complemented by Trust Fund resources from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Government of Australia). There is definitely scope to continue the type of social analysis carried out under PSIA through other (perhaps country-level or sector-specific Trust Funds). Funding this analytical work exclusively from bank budget would not have been possible in our case. However, seeing the outcomes of some of innovative types of analysis that have been funded by PSIA (I mean globally – not these specific pieces) has contributed to opened people’s minds to look at different types of analysis and methodologies and some of this will definitely be reflected in the analytical work that is taken forward at country level (be through trust funds or bank budget).
6) What do you do when you are not doing a PSIA?
A lot of what I work on is Community-Driven Development and mostly in the Philippines with the new(ish) National Community-Driven Development project. The NCDDP which Government launched in 2014 covers all the poorest municipalities in the country and has a very large component on disaster response. Several municipalities where the program is working are actually still recovering from typhoon Haiyan, and that’s a very large part of what I work on with the team at the moment.
Patricia Fernandes is a Senior Social Development Specialist in the East Asia and Pacific Region working primarily in Community Driven Development operations. Prior to joining the World Bank, she worked for the UN in Kosovo and for UNICEF in Angola and Mozambique. She received her undergraduate degree in anthropology from Oxford University and her Master of Science (in Anthropology and Social Development) from the London School of Economics.