Photo of Elise Wach, Evaluation and Learning Advisor with the Impact and Learning Team

Elise Wach - Research Advisor

Business, Markets and the State; Participation, Inclusion and Social Change; Rural Futures
T: +44 (0)1273 915678


Erin Lewis

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Elise Wach is a research advisor focusing on food systems, with an interest in how to transition toward more ecological and socially just ways of producing and consuming food. From May 2018 she will be on a career break from IDS to complete her PhD studies.

Elise's work integrates concepts from Participatory Action Research, political ecology and complex systems thinking. She has a background in environmental and social sciences as well as experience as a practitioner in community development and farming. Key themes within her portfolio of research include access to and management of land, alternative market and economic systems, democratic and deliberative processes for decision making, and knowledge sharing institutions and practices.

Her current initiatives include participatory systemic research led by small-scale farmers to identify pathways for realising more regenerative food systems in the UK, Nicaragua and Senegal. She is also engaged in a project that brings together diverse stakeholders transition towards a more sustainable food system in Brighton and Hove. Her PhD research examines the potentials for agroecology and food sovereignty in the uplands of Scotland. She has also researched the impact of seed systems on outcomes and agency (or 'sovereignty') for small-scale farmers.

Elise has experience in organisational and policy change processes, including researching the roles of evidence in decision making in policy and practice. She also co-led a four-country research process about the roles and capacities of leaders in catalysing policy changes to address undernutrition.

Previous work has included participatory assessments of the multidimensional impacts of markets and market-based approaches, particularly in relation to food. She has researched and provided support for numerous 'Making Markets Work for the Poor' (M4P) and Inclusive Business initiatives. Elise established a successful social enterprise in Guatemala which has been running since 2006.

Elise has been working on issues related to development since 2002, in both a practical and academic capacity. Prior to joining IDS she worked internationally for 8 years with grassroots organisations, international NGOs and a social enterprise. While her current work primarily focuses on the UK, she has worked in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, South Sudan, Ghana, Myanmar (Burma), Indonesia, Bangladesh, India, Palestine, Haiti, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Mexico.

This project will examine potential pathways for transitioning to more sustainable food systems in order to contribute to improved ecological, economic, social and nutritional outcomes.

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The BEAM Exchange is a global knowledge exchange facility for market systems practitioners. It supports development programmes and private sector initiatives that fight poverty by working with businesses, governments and others to transform markets so they work better for poor people.

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The project aims to help reduce undernutrition by informing policy and providing tools to make food and agricultural systems more ‘nutrition-sensitive’.

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The Business Innovation Facility (BIF) aims to catalyse market systems change in order to benefit poor producers, consumers and employees

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The Triple-S Initiative aims to catalyse systemic change in rural water policies and practices, to move from an infrastructure-based approach towards service delivery approaches. IDS is providing ongoing external learning and methodology support to the initiative.

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This research will identify the key factors driving the effectivness of public-private partnerships (PPPs) at bringing sustained increases in income for smallholder farmers at scale and delivering positive development outcomes across rural communities.

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To what extent does private sector development work in Kenya contribute to a reduction in poverty and inequality? This review aims to assess the evidence base for DFID Kenya’s Wealth Creation Pillar programming.

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Inclusive business has been recognised as an opportunity to deliver development impacts through innovative approaches to business. IDS has been working on case studies of what this actually means in practice with the Business Innovation Facility (BIF).

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This is the front cover to IDS Bulletin Vol 46.3, 'Business, State and Society: Changing Perspectives, Roles and Approaches in Development'.

Business, State and Society: Changing Perspectives, Roles and Approaches

IDS Bulletin 46.3 (2015)

The debate on the role of business and markets in development has a long history, marked by divergent and strongly held perspectives, but also shifts in dominant thinking about what is feasible and desirable. While only two decades ago debates were about the state vs the market, there is currently broad consensus that both are essential. More details

This is the image for IDS Practice Paper In Brief 13, 'Learning about Qualitative Document Analysis'.

Learning about Qualitative Document Analysis

IDS Practice Paper In Brief 13 (2013)

This paper outlines and reflects on the process of undertaking a Qualitative Document Analysis (QDA) on policy and ‘practice’ documents in the rural water sector. More details

This is the image for IDS in Focus Policy Briefing 11, 'Learning about Champions – Individuals Catalysing Social Change'.

Learning about Champions – Individuals Catalysing Social Change

IDS Practice Paper In Brief 11 (2013)

As part of the Transform Nutrition consortium, we are undertaking research to (a) identify individuals who have been or could be influential in contributing to policy changes that can effectively reduce undernutrition, and (b) explore the attributes and characteristics of these individuals. More details

This is the image for IDS Practice Paper 9, 'Measuring the Inclusivity of Inclusive Business'.

Measuring the Inclusivity of Inclusive Business

IDS Practice Paper 9 (2012)

‘Inclusive Business’ has enormous potential to contribute positively to development outcomes. Working through core business models, the ‘Inclusive Business’ approach requires minimal outside support and can often reach a scale unattainable by most direct development interventions. More details

What Can Promote Access to Land for Agroecological Farming in the UK? Findings from Participatory Research and Deliberation as part of the Transitions to Agroecological Food Systems Project

Access to land has long been a key barrier to new entrants to farming and has become more difficult in the last decade or so. In order to address these land access challenges, the panel discussed the potentials of both (a) working within the existing system (i.e. navigating existing policies, regulations and institutions), and (b) working to change the system (i.e. revising or introducing new policies, regulations and institutions). More details

Related Programmes and Centres:
Business and Development Centre.