IDS working papers;240

Governance hybrids : pro-poor, rights-based approaches in rural Peru

Published on 1 January 2005

How do we understand the hybrid forms of governance that occasionally emerge when rights-based
approaches (RBA) are introduced into contexts of extreme poverty? Poverty is multidimensional, and any
attempt to respond to poverty must offer internally consistent responses to each of the dimensions. RBA
offers a coherent set of economic, social and political responses to poverty that promise substantive
change in the social order. In rural Peru in 2002, a host of local and national movements were eager to
experiment with new RBA alternatives to address intense poverty. The introduction of RBA did not occur
in a vacuum, however, and existing clientelist practices mixed with RBA to produce governance hybrids.
At first glance, this combination seems unusual. Clientelism and RBA are usually seen as mutually
exclusive, polar opposites; clientelism reproduces poverty while RBA transforms it. Yet, the current study
demonstrates a variety of hybrid RBA and clientelist practices that imply different degrees of benefit for
poor citizens. At a conceptual level, this study suggests we need to reevaluate discrete categories of rights
and clientelism and allow for a continuum that would include a number of intermediate, hybrid steps.
Policymakers may want to take these hybrids into account when designing their interventions to move in
the direction of greater rights, rather than watered down RBA or reversion to clientelism.
Keywords: rights, citizenship, democracy, decentralisation, clientelism, politics, party, Peru, governance.

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