The U.S. Government has made investments in recent years to better understand the phenomenon of democratic backsliding and to measure threats to democratic space in its partner countries. Authoritarian actors’ efforts to project influence in the developing world are damaging to countries’ sovereignty, increase vulnerability to corruption, create economic dependence, and spread malign authoritarian practices. Assessing resurgent authoritarian influence in these countries and formulating effective responses is critical in bolstering countries’ progress toward self-reliance.
Making Cents International, in a joint venture with our partner Development Professionals, Inc., is supporting USAID’s Center for Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance (DRG Center) to better understand and respond to the phenomenon of democratic backsliding. Awarded under the Analytical Services IV IDIQ, the ATARI Task Order will develop and pilot a new diagnostic tool for assessing resurgent authoritarian influence (RAI) in USAID partner countries and work collaboratively with USAID Missions and select stakeholders to formulate effective responses.
In accordance with USAID’s RAI framework, the diagnostic tool will support qualitative and quantitative research capable of assessing a country’s relative exposure to foreign influence and related vulnerability of its democratic institutions and principles. We will develop and pilot an approach to utilize the tool to conduct rapid appraisal and strategy development exercises in select countries; in the first project year, we will conduct pilots in Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh, and Nepal, with additional countries selected for piloting in subsequent years. The methodology for diagnosing a country’s exposure and vulnerability to RAI will serve to help our team recommend appropriate strategic and programmatic responses to USAID.
An important component of our work will be the development and dissemination of practitioners’ guidance with promising approaches and identified best practices for countering RAI. We will also systematically collect, generate, and share insights on RAI through a systematic review of existing RAI research and data and through grants to support research, including in countries impacted by RAI, addressing identified knowledge or data gaps on RAI.
As a result of our activities, ATARI will provide solid and reliable analyses for the DRG Center, producing evidence and systematic analysis on RAI issues around the world to inform USAID’s strategic and programming decisions.