Experiences from Honduras: MERV is the whole process from the context analysis to the political dialogue.

Jenatsch, T.
Date published
14 Mar 2018
Assessment & Analysis, Capacity development

Experiences from Honduras: MERV is the whole process from the context analysis to the political dialogue

By Thomas Jenatsch, Desk Honduras

Honduras is officially not a fragile state. Because of weak institutions, notorious political instability and widespread insecurity with the highest homicide- and crime rates worldwide, the Central-American country has however many features of a fragile state. A continuous context-monitoring plays therefore a central role. It allows to anticipate changes in the context, to discuss implications for the SDC program and to possibly adapt the strategy. Jürg Benz, Head of Cooperation in Tegucigalpa: “The so called MERV, the Monitoring System for Development-Relevant Changes, is in the essence much more than a checklist or a standardized tool. It is a key for the whole process starting from the context analysis, the definition of implications for the development of the program to political dialogue.”

How is the process going? In Honduras five thematic fields* are observed within the context analysis. In each field the most important events and tendencies are recorded and their effects on development are analyzed. Processes that must be closely followed, e.g. the new decentralization law, the reform of the public prosecution department, the trend of crime rates in the regions where SDC is present, are treated separately. This external context analysis is edited two to four times a year by Victor Meza, an independent Honduranian expert. It is one among several inputs which include observations of the COOF-staff, institutional partners and like-minded donors. The trends are internally discussed and then shared in a workshop with project partners and NGOs.

It is important to include different local and international perspectives in the context analysis. This allows to eliminate blind spots to a large extent. Jürg Benz: “The report of the external expert constitutes only an input. The evaluation and interpretation we are doing ourselves.” So far, the Swiss Ambassador also participated in the context monitoring and discussion of the MERV with partners from the government and the civil society. Likewise, the SDC context monitoring is also an integrated in the political reporting of the Embassy.

Where did the MERV influence strategic decisions? Jürg Benz: “Drastic events, such as the recent unscathed kidnapping and intimidation of a project partner, cause fundamental debates and require an examination of the project design. Such events are luckily rather rare and the adaptations mostly of a gradual nature. Through a forward-looking planning with scenarios, abrupt changes in the program management can be avoided.

*: 1. Development of democracy (elections, political parties, participation of citizens); 2. Good Governance (Functioning of state institutions, rule of law, decentralization); 3. Human rights and people’s security (civil and political rights, security sector reform); 4. Social-political conflicts (land- and labor conflicts, reconciliation processes); 5. Macroeconomic development (growth, employment, public debt).