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Published on 30/06/2016

Joint action-research on public action in West Africa

Between 2011 and 2014, GRET led two action-research experiments on “real” procedures for building public action in Benin, Niger and Burkina Faso. As part of the “Fragmented public action. Production and institutionalisation of public action in the drinking water and land sectors” project (Appi) and the “Improving public services by combining research, action and political dialogue” project (Agora), social science researchers and practitioners, including GRET, explored processes for formulating and implementing public policies. Based on case studies, GRET and its researcher and operator partners analysed how these processes, which mobilise multiple players, scales and standards, contribute to constant collective (re)formulation of problems and solutions.

Conducted with the Agence nationale de la recherche (ANR – Les Suds II) (National research agency), the Appi project started by examining the water and land sectors, and extended its examination to other sectors. It led to the production of planning guidelines for development practicians.

By strengthening the political skills of local stakeholders, the Agora project aimed to support collective decision-making in the delivery and use of decentralised services via consultation and organisation of public debates.

These two projects highlight local grass-roots initiatives to influence the definition of public strategies. However, we can still question their sustainability, as both projects point mainly to gradual ownership by stakeholders of State benchmarks & standards and procedures specific to project aid constraints, rather than real strengthening of their political skills.

Fragmented public action? Production and institutionalisation of public action in the drinking water and land sectors (Appi) Burkina Faso, Niger, Benin (in French)
Support for concerted governance of local public services: findings of the Agora action-research project (Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali) (in French)