Provision of Basic Services (2004-15)

Responsibility for the delivery of basic public services is unclear and, in most developing countries, contended between government and non-state providers of services. On the one hand government and non-state actors often seek to collaborate; on the other hand they have different views about public services and how they should be provided.

IDD’s research in this area has had two focuses: work until 2009 focused on understanding the possibilities and the limitations of collaboration between governments and non-state providers of essential services (education, health care, water and sanitation). Since 2009, our research has also examined political aspects of service delivery in both fragile and effective states

Research outputs from four projects can be seen below and are mostly available online:

Political aspects of service delivery 2009 -

Researchers: Professor Richard Batley ( and Claire Mcloughlin (

Funders: Department for International Development (DFID) and Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Project aims

The aim is to understand the relationship between politics and service provision. The relationship between services and the political context is investigated in two broad directions - the effects of politics on service delivery, and the effects of service delivery on politics. In the first case, types of regime, political settlements, ideologies and political competition may affect service policies, their implementation and effectiveness. On the other hand, service delivery affects the distribution of resources between social groups, citizens’ trust, and the legitimacy of governments or states.

Research design

This work has been pursued through a series of funded projects including in particular research with the Overseas Development Institute on Achieving sustainable governance transitions.



OECD-PDG Handbook on Contracting Out Government Functions and Services in Post-Conflict and Fragile Situations, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Paris, 2010

The product of a three-year consultative process, this is an operational resource for field practitioners and government policymakers that supports better-informed decision-making. Its preparation was managed by Richard Batley and Bathylle Missika (OECD's Partnership for Democratic Governance), and Claire Mcloughlin was a member of the core drafting team.


Richard Batley & Claire Mcloughlin (2015), The Politics of Public Services: A Service Characteristics Approach, World Development Vol 74. In Press, Open Access -

Claire Mcloughlin (2015), When does service delivery improve the legitimacy of a fragile or conflict-affected state?Governance (first published online in March 2014)

A Special issue of Public Management Review Vol. 14 No.2, 2012 on the Politics and Governance of Public Services in Developing Countries is available online at It is edited by Richard Batley and Willy McCourt and includes the following articles:

  • The Politics and Governance of Public Services in Developing Countries by Richard Batley, Willy McCourt and Claire Mcloughlin
  • Widgets or Watchdogs? Conceptual Explorations in Social Accountability by Anu Joshi and Peter Houtzager
  • Working with the Grain and Swimming with the Tide, Barriers to uptake of research findings on governance and public services in low-income Africa by David Booth
  • Tackling the Governance of Socially Inclusive Service Delivery by Jeremy Holland, Laurent Rueddin, Patta Scott-Villiers and Hannah Sheppard
  • Decentralization, Politics and Service Delivery by Mark Turner
  • Political Economy Realities in the Chinese Health Sector by Daniel Harris and Jenny Wang
  • The Politics of Social Rights - Social protection and free health care in Nepal by Stephen Jones
  • The Political Implications of Cash Transfers in Sub-Saharan Africa by Alex Hurrell and Ian MacAuslan
  • Service Delivery and Legitimacy in Fragile and Conflict-Affected States – evidence from water services in Iraq by Derick Brinkerhoff, Anna Wetterberg, and Stephen Dunn

Richard Batley and Claire Mcloughlin. 2010. ‘Engagement with Non-State Service Providers in Fragile States: Reconciling State-Building and Service Delivery’, Development Policy Review, Volume 28 Issue 2, Pages 131 – 154,

Research reports

Batley, R. and Harris, D. (2014) Synthesis Report on the Service Characteristics Approach to Political Analysis, London: ODI

Mason, N., Batley, R., Harris, D. (2014) Understanding the political implications of sector characteristics for the delivery of sanitation services, London: ODI

Harris, D., Batley, R., Wales, J. (2014) Understanding the political implications of sector characteristics for health service delivery, London: ODI

Harris, D., Batley, R., Mcloughlin C., Wales, J. (2013) Understanding the political implications of sector characteristics for education service delivery, London: ODI

Mason, N., Harris, D., Batley, R. (2013) Understanding the political implications of sector characteristics for the delivery of drinking water services, London: ODI

Mcloughlin, C and Harris, D (2012) The politics of progress on water and sanitation in Colombo, Sri Lanka, ODI Publications, January 2013

Mcloughlin, C with Batley R (2012) The effects of sector characteristics on accountability relationships in service delivery, ODI Working Papers 350, August,

Mcloughlin, C and Batley, R. (2012) The politics of what works in service delivery: an evidence based review, Working Paper 06 of the University of Manchester’s research programme on Effective States and Inclusive Development, February

Batley, R and Mcloughlin, C (2009). State Capacity and Non-State Service Provision in Fragile and Conflict Affected States, Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, Birmingham,

Faith-based service providers and their changing relationship with the state 2006 - 09

Researchers: Professor Richard Batley (, Dr Masooda Bano and Ms Padmaja Nair

Funder: Department for International Development (DFID)

This project on faith-based service providers and their changing relationship with the state comes under a DFID-funded research programme (Religions and Development website)

Project aims

This research explored the factors that make some faith-based organizations important players for the government to engage with or to reform. At the same time it explores the factors that motivate religious lobbies to gain political power and control the state. It thus looks at a dual relationship: one, in which the state actively seeks to reform an FBO; and one in which religious forces actively seek state power to advance their religious agenda.

Research design

The questions are tested in the comparative context of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The research is divided into three parts. Part one gives an over view of faith-based organisations in South Asia. Part 2 then focuses on the madrasas and their engagement with the state; and Part 3 looks at religious parties in South Asia to see why they seek state power and to analyse why religious parties maintain a strong focus on faith-based organisations involved in service delivery.



Bano, M. (forthcoming) 'Madrasa Reforms and Islamic Modernism in Bangladesh', Modern Asian Studies

Bano, M. (2012) 'Welfare Work and Politics of Jama'at-i-Islami in Pakistan and Bangladesh', Economic and Political Weekly XLVII (01)

Bano, M. (2011) 'Co-Producing with FBOs: Lessons from State-Madrasa Engagement in the Middle East and South Asia', Third World Quarterly 32(7): 1273-89

Bano, M. (2010) 'Madrasas as Partners in Education Provision: The South Asian Experience', Development in Practice 20(4&5): 554-66

Working papers

Masooda Bano with Padmaja Nair:

Faith-based organisations in South Asia: their historical evolution and current status and nature of interaction with the state

Allowing for Diversity: State-Madrasa Relations in Bangladesh

Contesting Ideologies and Struggle for Authority: State-Madrasa engagement in Pakistan

Engaged yet Disengaged: Islamic Schools and the State in Kano, Nigeria

Marker of Identity: Religious Political Parties and Welfare Work - The Case of Jama'at-i-Islami in Pakistan and Bangladesh

Padmaja Nair:

Religious Political Parties and their Welfare Work: Relations between the RSS, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Vidya Bharati Schools in India

The State and Madrasas in India

Whose Public Action? Analysing inter-sectoral collaboration for service delivery 2006 - 08

Researcher: Professor Richard Batley ( and Dr Kelly Teamey (now at Bath University), in collaboration with teams from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the Centre for International Education at Sussex University, and the Water and Engineering Development Centre at Loughborough University.

Funder: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

This research project built on IDD's Non-State Providers of Basis Services project, which investigated the role that non-state providers play in providing basic services like education, health and water to the poor, and how governments may interact with such providers.

Project aims

The research aimed to understand how and why relationships between governments and non-state service providers have been formed and evolved, and what balance of influence emerges between these actors. The research considers three services - primary education, primary health and basic sanitation in three countries Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.

Research design

The research was undertaken through a combination of  qualitative methods: literature reviews and documentary analysis; key informant interviews with government, donors, NGOs, associations of non-state providers, and academics; and detailed semi-structured interviews with the government and non-government actors involved in the relationships.



Rose, P. (editor), (2010), Achieving Education for All through public–private partnerships? Non-state provision of education in developing countries, Routledge, 224 pages, ISBN: 978-0-415-58371-8 Chapters by Pauline Rose, Masooda Bano, and Richard Batley


The research team published a Special Issue of the journal Public Administration and Development. Vol 31 No 4, 2011, edited by Richard Batley. It is available online at The Special Issue is titled: Governments and Non-governmental Service Providers: Collaboration or Rivalry? It included the following articles:

  • ‘Analysing collaboration in service delivery between NGOs and states’ by Richard Batley and Pauline Rose.
  • ‘Factors affecting state-NGO relations in service provision: key themes from the literature’ by Claire Mcloughlin.
  • ‘Evolution of the relationship between state and NGOs: a regional perspective’ by Padmaja Nair.
  • ‘Negotiating collaboration in Pakistan: expertise, networks and community embeddedness’ by Masooda Bano.
  • ‘Health service delivery: the state of government-NGO relations in Bangladesh’ by Nurul Alam.
  • ‘Complementary roles? NGO-government relations for community based sanitation in South Asia’ by Kevin Sansom.
  • ‘Strategies for engagement: government and national non-government education providers in South Asia’ by Pauline Rose. 
  • ‘Structures and strategies in relations between non-government service providers and governments’ by Richard Batley

Special Issue of Development in Practice, Vol. 20, Nos, 4 and 5, 2010, ISSN 0961-4524, edited by Pauline Rose

  • Rose, P. 2010. ‘Editorial Introduction: Achieving Education for All, Special Issue of Development in Practice, Volume 20 Numbers 4 and 5, pages 473-483
  • Bano, M. 2010. ‘Madrasas as partners in education provision: the South Asian experience’, Development in Practice, Volume 20 Numbers 4 and 5, pages 554-566
  • Batley, R. and Rose, P. 2010. ‘Collaboration in delivering education: relations between governments and NGOs in South Asia’, Development in Practice, Volume 20 Numbers 4 and 5, pages 579-585

Special issue of Compare: a Journal of comparative education and International education, Vol. 39 No.2. 2009. This can be found on the Swetswise website|

  • Rose, P. 2009. Non-state provision of education: evidence from Africa and Asia
  • Rose, P. 2009. NGO provision of basic education: alternative or complementary service delivery to support access to the excluded?

Sansom, K. and Bos, A. 2008. Utility and non-state water service provision for the urban poor, International Journal of Water, Volume 4, Numbers 3 and 4, pages 290-303

Working papers

S.M. Nurul Alam:

  • Bangladesh Country Review: History of State-NSP relations, February 2007
  • Identification of Programmes for Study in Bangladesh, February 2007
  • Case studies on Unnayyan Shahjogy Team (sanitation), Friends in Village Development (education), Population Services and Training Centre (health), and comparative report

Masooda Bano:

Padmaja Nair:

Kelly Teamey

Claire Mcloughlin

Kelly Teamey and Claire Mcloughlin

Discussion Papers

Richard Batley, The Research Approach January 2008  

Richard Batley, Cross-sector Identification of Conditioning Factors and the Nature of Relationships February 2008

Padmaja Nair, Comparative Report of Cases of NSP - State Relationships in India February 2008

Masooda Bano, Comparative Report of Cases of NSP - State Relationships in Pakistan February 2008

Nurul Alam, Comparative Report of Cases of NSP - State Relationships in Bangladesh February 2008

Kevin Sansom, Sanitation Sector Comparative Paper February 2008

Pauline Rose, Exploring relationships between non-state providers and the state in South Asia: Comparison of education cases February 2008

Kelly Teamey, Links between themes emerging from the nine WPA case studies and key issues in the literature February 2008

DFID study of non-state service providers  2004 - 05

Researchers: Professor Richard Batley (, Dr George Larbi; Mr Simon Delay ( in collaboration with teams from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the Centre for International Education at Sussex University, and the Water and Engineering Development Centre at Loughborough University.

Funder: Department for International Development (DFID)

The UK Government's Department for International Development (DFID) commissioned a study of provision by non-state actors of three services: (i) basic (primary) education, (ii) primary and community health-care, and (iii) water and sanitation.

Project aims

The work was designed to respond to demand for guidance on whether and how governments, civil society organizations and donors may support non-state provision of pro-poor basic services, and to draw up guidelines for donors wishing to support governments and civil society organizations in making appropriate interventions.

Research design

The research included an international literature review, mapping of donor programmes, cases studies in South Africa, Malawi, Nigeria, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, and a policy seminar involving governments, NGOs, donors and academics.



Special Issue of Public Administration and Development: Vol. 26, No.3 2006. This can be found on the Wiley InterScience Website|

Batley R. 2006. Guest editors preface, pp 193-196

Moran D. 2006. Comparing services: a survey of leading issues in the sectoral literatures', pp 197-206

Sansom K. 2006. Government engagement with non-state service providers of water and sanitation services, pp 207-217

Rose P. 2006. Collaboration in education for all? Experiences of government support for non-state provision of basic education in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, pp 219-229

Palmer N. 2006. An awkward threesome donors, governments and non-state providers of health in low income countries, pp 231-240

Batley R. 2006. Engaged or divorced? Cross-service findings on government relations with non-state service providers, pp 241-251

Working Papers

Country studies of experience in:

  • Bangladesh
  • India
  • Pakistan
  • Malawi
  • Nigeria
  • South Africa 

Summary Notes

'Engaged or Divorced?', an article by Batley on the website

'Addressing mistrust between governments and non-state service providers', a summary of Batley Public Administration and Development Vol. 26 No.3 2006 on the id21 website

'Government and non-state sector collaboration to reach EFA', a summary of Rose Public Administration and Development Vol. 26 No.3 2006 on the id21 website