International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

Political and social analysis of options and alternatives

The results of the economic analysis should not be seen as “the decision” – economic analysis provides only one form of input to the policymaker’s final decision. The purpose of the economic analysis is to create a basis for sound decisions about the allocation of financial resources. In addition, the analysis needs to consider political and social acceptance of each alternative.

Ultimately, the SAP is a negotiated policy document. This means that while the TDA and the first phase of the SAP was predominantly a technical process, this phase of the SAP is largely a political process. The aim of the SAP is to achieve commitment at the highest levels possible in order to move forward on a selected set of priority actions and strategies within the framework of agreed goals.

Stakeholder engagement during the project development phase and the early stages of project implementation, as well as during the TDA development process should have paved the way for this political phase in so far as it will have developed an institutional and policy map, identified and engaged key people, and initiated a participatory process.

The SAP strategic thinking sessions, which should have engaged the key stakeholders, continued this build-up of political and social acceptance. At both the regional and national levels it should ensure that stakeholders are supportive of, and willing to implement and monitor, the selected options.

However, as the options are further defined, and in parallel to the economic feasibility analysis, it is necessary to ensure social and political acceptability of each option. This is necessary at both the regional and national levels. At the regional level a given option might not be particularly attractive to a specific country but, when weighed in against the complex political agenda that characterizes bilateral or multilateral relations, may constitute an important bargaining chip. An understanding of regional relations is therefore important.

At the national level, options may directly affect a specific sector or community, or may entail added responsibilities for certain government agencies. Stakeholders that may be directly impacted by an option or that will play a role in its implementation will need to be consulted.