How Do Donor-led Empowerment and Accountability Activities Take Scale into Account? Evidence from DFID Programmes in Contexts of Fragility, Conflict and Violence
Date: April 2020
Author(s): Colin Anderson, Jonathan Fox, John Gaventa
Publication type: Working Paper
Published by: Action for Empowerment and Accountability, Accountability Research Center, Institute for Development Studies
Development donors invest significantly in governance reform, including in contexts characterised by conflict and fragility. However, there is relatively little comparative study of their change strategies, and little understanding of what works and why.
This paper explores the strategies of six recent DFID-funded programmes in Mozambique, Myanmar, and Pakistan with empowerment and accountability aims. Document review and field interviews are used to analyse the application of multi-scalar or multi-level change strategies, since such approaches are hypothesised to potentially generate more leverage for public accountability reforms. Analysis suggests that these strategies can strengthen citizen ability to navigate governance systems to resolve problems and claim accountability, and can bolster pro-accountability coalitions’ internal solidarity and external legitimacy. Multi-level strategies also appear associated with establishing more significant pressure for reform than exclusively local or national approaches. Yet conventional project reporting focuses on counting activities and outputs rather than analysing the dynamic, interactive processes at work in these strategies, and few evaluations are publicly accessible. To fully understand what kinds of action strengthen citizen demands for accountability requires a more transparent and rigorous approach to learning from donor-led governance interventions.