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Working politically on economic problems in Kyrgyzstan: lessons from Support to Jogorku Kenesh (S2JK)

Research report

Written by Ed Laws, David Rinnert

From November 2021 to July 2022, ODI worked closely with the FCDO-funded Support to the Jogorku Kenesh (S2JK) programme in the Kyrgyz Republic, to document their experiences and to track the programme’s processes, ways of working and emerging results.

S2JK brings together coalitions to develop ‘political solutions to economic problems’. The key idea is to focus interventions on specific issues or problems, around which domestic stakeholders are supported to mobilise and drive reform. In recent years, there has been growing emphasis on the importance of such politically-smart, issue-based programmes for tackling complex development challenges. But researchers and practitioners are still grappling with a range of questions.

For example, despite the growing donor interest in political engagement and local leadership, our understanding of how funders can support local coalitions in different contexts and for different problems, remains limited. And while there is a growing number of case studies demonstrating that issue-based programmes can help unlock discrete problems, there are risks these approaches fail to deliver bigger changes because the issues they select are too narrow or disconnected.

ODI has developed two papers that provide evidence, from S2JK’s perspective, on these issues:

  • a shorter paper focuses on S2JK’s core lessons for assembling and managing coalitions to address different policy challenges;
  • a longer paper analyses how S2JK has tried to connect individual issues to make an impact on broader structural constraints in the Kyrgyz economy.

We hope to have identified important factors for future issue-based programmes to consider, as well as ‘proof of concept’ that this approach can support locally-driven economic policy change in countries like Kyrgyzstan.