Institutional Architecture Assessment for Food Security Policy Change
Institutional architecture (IA) provides a framework for understanding and improving a country’s capacity to undertake transparent, inclusive, predictable, and evidence-based policy change.
Local system capacity to manage inclusive and evidence-based policy reform is fundamental to improving food security outcomes. Whether operating at the regional, national, or sub-national level, IA encompasses the multi-stakeholder processes, capabilities, relationships, and structures needed to effectively manage food security policy development and implementation. Effective investments in IA increase social capital among and between system actors and serve as building blocks towards greater self-reliance.
Since 2013, in-depth institutional architecture assessments (IAAs) have been used by the USAID Bureau of Food Security, USAID Missions, local policymakers, and other key stakeholders to better understand possible constraints that could stymie effective policy change processes in specific countries and regions. Monitoring and evaluating IA improvements over time will help to drive investment, attention, and accountability towards addressing key constraints to more effective, better performing policy systems. This approach helps to ensure that Feed the Future policy-related investments contribute not only to achieving desired policy changes, but also to achieving durable improvements in host country capacity to lead and manage the policy change process.
Institutional Architecture Assessment, Prioritization & Planning (APP) Toolkit
More recently, repeat institutional architecture assessments (i.e. in Kenya and Malawi) have demonstrated that this approach can be useful as both a process and a tool to help an inclusive set of stakeholders reach a shared understanding of the current strengths and weaknesses in a country’s IA and, build consensus around a set of key priorities and actions to strengthen the reform system necessary for managing a multi-sectoral food security program.
The purpose of the IA Toolkit is to provide a set of customizable and adaptable resources to help country-level stakeholders improve their institutional architecture:
- Assess IA capacity and performance in a participatory and periodic manner;
- Build consensus and buy-in around priority action items;
- Plan capacity development interventions and technical assistance; and
- Monitor results.
In addition to putting the steps in place to improve a country’s IA, the toolkit enhances local capacity for assessing IA, as well as for prioritizing steps to strengthen the reform system.