Why systemic change?

To help deliver change that is sustainable, Oxfam recognises that systems in the economic, political and socio-cultural sphere must be shifted to empower smallholders and give them the resources and rights they are entitled to, to sustain their own livelihoods and families. In GEM programmes, creating ystemic change is an underlying driver of the three other themes being integrated, to not only benefit specific communities, but work with others to scale up impact more widely in the country.

As a market-based livelihoods programme GEM begins with the premise of improving market systems, so that relationships between stakeholders shift more power and benefits to poor women and men smallholders. Creating systemic change complements project interventions that directly invest in building smallholder access to markets (such as training) by engaging with and challenging the systems that are failing to sustainably provide smallholder access to those markets in the first place. However, it is recognised that social norms and value systems can also inhibit women and men to equal access to resources – these systems can be driven by private sector actors in the market (such as buyers, service providers, banks and MFIs), national and local governance, cultural and gendered attitudes and behaviour, and environmental trends such as climate change. For more information watch this video and review Oxfam’s paper on systems thinking.

How systemic change emerges and comes about varies widely – a range of case study examples are available at the end of the Intervention design tool.

The following tools are designed to support analysis, intervention design and engagement with stakeholders.

Market Mapping

Use market mapping to bring together your research and key stakeholders to map out systems

Market Mapping

Market mapping is the core tool for market-based livelihoods projects to better understand and analyse the wider system that smallholder farmers must engage with to improve their livelihoods. Market maps can help make explicit where the power inequalities lie between smallholders and the wider system such as knowledge, resources, infrastructure, etc. as well as gendered inequalities embedded within social norms and behaviours, from household systems to wider market systems. ‘Gendering’ market maps can thus begin to unpack the gendered barriers that women specifically face at the community and market level, such as mobility, access to training and tools, and time management. The exercise of market mapping allows you to look at the specific value-chain and input services of the product you’re assessing, as well as consider the wider barriers and opportunities that exist in terms of policy, climate, laws, culture, consumer preferences, etc. You can draft a gendered market map and come back to improve it later as you collect more information from other tools such as the VRA or RCA. It is there to help you analyse the systems you want to influence and start to think about  the interventions you want to implement. Much of the analysis that goes into market mapping is drawn from the results of the tools available in the rest of this toolkit, so the quality of your market map will be determined by the knowledge, and people, you bring to the exercise.

The market mapping includes reference to its use in humanitarian situations, including an entire annex dedicated to pre-crisis market mapping.

Intervention Design

The intervention design tool builds on the learning from market mapping to define your inteventions

Intervention Design

Having completed the market mapping you will have a good idea of the main actors and roles in the market system, together with the constraints and opportunities available to women and men smallholders. The intervention design tool will build on this knowledge to further help you develop and design the interventions you will want to take based on your analysis through the market mapping and other tools available. Given the systemic change GEM programmes are looking to bring, interventions in your project by their nature will need to consider power between the various stakeholders and the key actors that can influence them. This will in turn determine the kind (or kinds) or strategy you will want to adopt. The full tool and a more detailed outline of influencing are both available through the links on the right-hand side.

Multi-Stakeholder Processes

Guidance on how to engage with and influence key stakeholders during your project or programme

Multi-Stakeholder Processes

Creating systemic change will require you to influence others in the market system, which typically requires stakeholders to come to a common vision, find solutions and take steps forward. A Multi-Stakeholder Process (MSP) is a way that stakeholders, including local communities, businesses, governments, and civil society organisations can work together towards a common vision. The MSP guidance is a tool to support you in the practicalities of how to approach and convene these different actors. Within a broader programme, an MSP can be used at various stages;

  • In programme design, an MSP can identify the issues that stakeholders find important to work on – so this can be used in preparation for a workshop using the influencing and power analysis tools.
  • In programme implementation, an MSP can be a way to involve a broader set of stakeholders for scale-up, shared learning and/or stronger advocacy.
  • In planning exit from a programme, an MSP can explore how other stakeholders may be able to take forward the work of the programme.

As with any programme element, an MSP will need to work in a way that is adapted to the broader goals, the resources available, and the context.  It can be a fairly informal process, or it can become a formal institution.