Building state capability through problem-driven iterative adaptation (PDIA)

As a sub-component of the Research and Communication on Foreign Aid (ReCom) programme, the PDIA project feeds into the themes: governance and fragility & social sectors. An integral part of development is the expansion of capability of the state to carry out its responsibilities and effectively both impose obligations (e.g. collect taxes, enforce the law) and provide services (education, infrastructure, health). A great deal of the development debate is about what should be done rather than how the state will do it. And the state contracting with NGOs or private providers also requires capability.

However, it is clear that many states, such as the 'failed' Somali and 'fragile' Afghani, Haitian and South Sudanese states have not acquired the state capability to provide the most basic needs to its citizens. Many more states are 'flailing' (Pritchett 2009) as they have designed attractive policies but their ability to implement them is very weak. The development assistance dedicated to building 'capability' has a mixed track record and overall, there has been little progress in the development of appropriate indicators of state capability.

This project aims to research practical alternative modes of building capability for domestic and external stakeholders. The deliverables include eight papers, which at the conclusion of the project, are the core of a book on development.