The Political Economy of International Development and Pro-poor Livestock Policies: A Comparative Assessment


This paper analyzes political organization and action that can be used to, at least partially, overcome the lack of voice of poor producers in the domestic and international policy arenas. The paper builds on a series of eleven case studies - in nine developing countries and (as examples of the effects of the 'global north') the European Union and organizations setting Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards (SPS) for world trade -, carried out by a team of researchers from the University of California, Berkeley. The paper is an update of working paper #12.

Peasant livestock producers are particularly disadvantaged internationally and within their national systems because their political participation tends to be mediated through patron-client ties. Without outside help they are unlikely to engage in effective proactive political action on issues related to their collective interests as producers. Long term investments by NGOs and donors (international and local; religious and secular; political and apolitical) in the capacity of poor livestock producers and other peasants for political organization ultimately will have great benefits for the poor. International NGOs also offer a different and positive patronage link into the 'global north,' which can be used to counter industrial country attempts to co-opt local elites. Networks of NGOs and peasant organizations that extend from the local through the national to the international level add extra leverage.

Neo-liberal policies do not always benefit the poor but when they can be shaped to do so, it makes political sense to steer within rather than paddle against the current of donor opinion. The neo-liberal critique in support of poor producers is at least as important in international trade as it is within the boundaries of developing countries. There is a strong need for sophisticated and detailed analyses of the international trade measures that would most advantage the least developed countries and the poor within them.

The dispute resolution and enforcement provisions of the World Trade Organization give a new urgency to international procedures for setting food safety and SPS standards. Developing countries need to form alliances to assure their effective representation in these fora and seek donor assistance for developing the technical capacity for the analysis that they will need to be effective in them.

A three page executive summary is also available in addition to this paper.


PPLPI, FAO, Rome, Italy, vi+29 pp.

Published 1 January 2006