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Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition • FSN Forum

Conceptualizing Drivers of Policy Change in Agriculture, Nutrition, and Food Security: The Kaleidoscope Model

The current emphasis in the development community on demonstrating policy impact requires a better understanding of national policymaking processes to recognize opportunities for, and limits to, generating policy change. Consequently, this paper introduces an applied framework, named the kaleidoscope model, to analyze drivers of change in the food security arena, with a specific emphasis on agriculture and nutrition policies. Focusing on five key elements of the policy cycle—agenda setting, design, adoption, implementation, and evaluation and reform—the model identifies key variables that define the necessary and sufficient conditions for policy change to occur. These variables were inductively derived through an extensive review of the secondary literature on episodes of policy change in developing countries across a broad range of policy domains related to food security, including agriculture, education, healthcare, nutrition, and social protection.

The advantages of the framework are at least fourfold. First, it incorporates issues of power and conflict much more than existing operational hypotheses in the donor community. Second, compared with many traditional public policy theories, it recognizes the importance of external actors, including donors, and the simultaneous influence of interests, ideas, and institutions. Third, it helps trace why a policy fails to be implemented by taking into account where gaps may have existed during other stages of the policy cycle. Finally, it is readily amenable to operationalization and application to a broader set of country case studies. Collectively, the model aspires to improve the relevance of public policy theories to the developing-country context; offer practical recommendations to key partners; and inform ongoing policy change processes, such as the Feed the Future initiative of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).