Institutions, impact synergies and food security: a methodology with results from the Kala Oya Basin, Sri Lanka

Institutions, impact synergies and food security: a methodology with results from the Kala Oya Basin, Sri Lanka

A methodology for measuring the impact of development interventions on food security

Governments and development agencies constantly plan, implement, and evaluate various development interventions, and there is an understandable concern over the actual impacts that these interventions generate. This paper presents a methodology for measuring the impacts of interventions focused at achieving food security, which is illustrated using empirical data from the context of Kala Oya Basin in Sri Lanka.

The paper argues that two key aspects with a central role in determining the magnitude and sustainability of development impacts continue to lack recognition and treatment both in the economic literature and in development policy. These are cited as being:

  • the role institutions play in impact generation and transmission
  • the synergies inherent among past, ongoing, and planned interventions.

It is argued that exclusion of these factors is a serious problem, particularly in achieving meta-development goals such as food security. In response to this lack of recognition, the authors of this paper develop and apply a methodology that explicitly captures the effects of institutions and development synergies within a unified framework and quantitative context. The framework is developed in four ways:

  • taking three development interventions (crop diversification, system rehabilitation, and bulk water supply)
  • tracing their impact pathways and interaction points
  • locating relevant institutions in these points and pathways
  • linking them all with the final goal of food security.

This framework is translated into a system of 21 sequentially linked equations using a set of development, institutional, and impact variables. The methodology is illustrated by taking the Kala Oya Basin in Sri Lanka as the empirical context and using perception-based qualitative information from 67 experts as the data source.

The authors argue that from the perspective of practical policy, this paper has 2 main contributions:

  • first, it demonstrates why and how it is important to account for the institutional impacts and development synergies possible from the past, ongoing, and future interventions when planning for and implementing a new development programme in any given region
  • second, it also provides a diagnostic tool for locating the weak spots and slack links in various impact pathways as well as for identifying the institutions and impact chains that are to be strengthened to improve the impact flows of development programmes.

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