The Strengths and Weaknesses of a Policy

Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a policy of your choice. In contrast to the policy briefing, where you are looking forward to evaluating what may happen if different options are selected now, this essay asks you to evaluate a policy that has already been implemented. Answer with reference to the impact of the policy on the livelihoods of various rural stakeholders (i.e. policy outcomes). Consider that rural stakeholders are likely to be affected by policy and respond to policy in different ways. In other words, it is important that you discuss the impact of the policy on several stakeholders, considering their particular livelihood strategies and the different sets of assets available to them. You need to select a particular policy area that is relevant to rural development, such as forestry, agriculture, environment, health, industry, education. You might select an international policy (such as a trade agreement) or a national policy (such as a forestry policy). In addition, you need to identify a particular policy or a distinct policy element that you want to analyze. In other words, don’t propose, for example, to analyze the whole environmental policy of a country! Instead, focus on a particular policy, such as the devolution of protected areas to local governments, or policy element, such as the creation of financial incentives for local governments to set up protected areas. You must then evaluate the particular policy/policy element in relation to a particular country (or a region within a country). In making your selection, be sure that you have access to sufficient materials, including evidence on policy implementation and outcomes. There is little point trying to evaluate a policy aimed at boosting income from non-traditional crops by providing subsidized seeds for example, if you can’t find any data on how many seeds were provided or on what rural people earned from crop sales! Also, it is always a nice idea to include evidence that strengthens your claim that it was the policy (and not something else) that caused the observed changes in livelihoods. For example, compare livelihoods before and after policy implementation, or between an area where the policy was implemented, and another area where it was not. Or include references to research that indicates that the observed changes in livelihoods were (or could have been) due to other influences. Such evidence serves to deepen the analysis. Limit the essay to a maximum of 2500 words.

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