Can Market Systems Development Build Resilience in Fragile Contexts?

Lessons from a Comparative Three-Country Analysis in South and Southeast Asia

Read the Summary Learning Brief ▸

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.
Read the Myanmar Case Study ▸
Read the Nepal Case Study ▸
Read the Timor-Leste Case Study ▸

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