New Oxfam guide to Market-Based Programming (+ great comms)

February 5, 2020

     By Duncan Green     

Stumbled across a really sharp new Oxfam briefing on ‘market-based programming’ (MBP). Super concise, with lots of graphics, and a powerful practical rebuttal to any idea that we are kneejerk ‘anti-market’.

It starts from the obvious, yet often ignored, observation that markets show a remarkable ability to survive disaster and resurface at speed:

‘Communities and markets have relationships at all times. Before, during and after a crisis hits, communities around the world are buying and selling.

Programmes which are market-based can:

  • Be cheaper and quicker using existing market supply chains, capacities and networks
  • Provide choice and dignity to populations
  • Contribute towards market rehabilitation and economic recovery
  • Support community engagement by linking local stakeholders to expressed community needs
  • Link with the private sector to foster innovation
  • Tackle questions of power dynamics and inequality around buying and selling’

What’s more, understanding markets is crucial to ‘do no harm’ approaches:

‘When we seek to help a community, we must take into consideration existing behaviours and practices in relation to how people spend money and sell things — not disrupting them.

For example: In the aftermath of a natural disaster, such as an earthquake or hurricane, markets often bounce back and can supply goods and services before aid agencies can reach populations in need. If aid agencies do not understand this dynamic and ignore local markets they can unintentionally exacerbate the suffering of the community.’

The guide draws a distinction between using, supporting and developing markets.

Market analysis is needed before, during and after a crisis:

Before Crisis: Checking traders’ storage capacity and stock

During Crisis: Assessing if critical items (such as food or water) can be supplied locally

After Crisis: Seeing what support is needed to help agricultural markets recover

And finally, two nice examples from Zimbabwe and South Sudan.

February 5, 2020
Duncan Green