Can Market Systems Development Build Resilience in Fragile Contexts?
To better understand where and how practitioners can apply market systems development approaches to resilience-building in fragile contexts, Mercy Corps’ research set out to assess the relationship between the two models in three MSD-focused programs in South and Southeast Asia. All three programs — Making Vegetable Markets Work for the Poor (MVMW) in Myanmar, Effective Seed Storage (ESS) in Timor-Leste and Managing Risk Through Economic Development (M-RED) in Nepal — operated in fragile contexts characterized by weak governance, thin markets and frequent exposure to a range of economic, ecological and social shocks and stresses.
The following common recommendations emerged across the three diverse contexts:
- Assess economic, ecological and social risk holistically to inform market sector and partner selection and market intervention design.
- Analyze, leverage and build strong social capital among local actors to make markets work for resilience.
- Pair interventions that strategically address immediate, significant risks with facilitative models to build resilient market systems.
- Address social norms — especially those related to gender — that limit MSD’s resilience-building potential.
- Harness market systems change — investing in the right sectors, actors and partnerships — to catalyze risk reduction and build resilience at scale.