Photo of Erika Lopez-Franco, IDS Participation team Research Officer

Erika Lopez Franco - Research Officer

Participation, Inclusion and Social Change


Erika conducts research and advocacy for the meaningful participation of vulnerable groups using a rights-based approach and a power analysis lens. After five years of work in the field of participation, Erika has a particular interest in exploring the meanings and pathways of accountability for the poorest and most marginalised.

This work takes place in the the contexts of increased inequality, resource exploitation, environmental damage, participation fatigue, the growth of ICTs and other digital technologies, and increased decentralisation. She asks what are the drivers, incentives, motivations and avenues that people are finding and creating to hold powerful public, private, formal and informal actors to account?

During her time at IDS, Erika has worked in a number of programmes. Within the Participate initiative she supported network members on methodological design and innovation and the implementation of research processes. She also took part in the meta-synthesis of the findings for a diverse range publications that were generated by the research. As part of the Valuing Volunteering project, she was involved in the learning and reflection process with VSO staff along with providing methodological guidance and support for the field-researchers.

Currently, Erika is the IDS lead of the learning component of the Citizen Engagement Programme (CEP) in Mozambique. Here she has conducted an Action Learning case study on citizenship building for accountability, has advised on the design of a learning system for actors from the district to the national level and also provides support to the programme’s advocacy strategies. Finally, Erika coordinates a research, learning and practice collaboration with Swiss Development Cooperation on Poverty, Politics and Power.

This project focuses on the need to consider and address intersecting inequalities – the spatial, economic and identity-based drivers of poverty and inequality - if the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are to be successful.

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This project focuses on the need to consider and address intersecting inequalities – the spatial, economic and identity-based drivers of poverty and inequality - if the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are to be successful.

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An empowerment and accountability programme aimed at improving the quality of health and education services in Mozambique.

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The Participatory Monitoring and Accountability (PMA) programme marks a new phase of the Participate initiative. It aims to foster and support PMA learning processes that enable citizen participation for accountability to be embedded in development policy and practice.

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Studies have shown that it is often wealthier people in a community who benefit from market approaches to combatting poverty – men more than women, non-disabled more than disabled. So how and to what extent can market-based solutions improve the lives of extremely poor people?

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The project aims to expand our knowledge of the specific attributes of volunteering as a development mechanism and the unique ways in which volunteering impacts on poverty.

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This theme supports the programme in addressing: What are the best ways for external actors, such as donors, NGO’s etc., to support internally led social and political actions or to create enabling conditions that contribute to empowerment and accountability?’

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This is the cover for 'Work with us: How people and
organisations can catalyse sustainable change.

Work With Us: How People and Organisations can Catalyse Sustainable Change

This report provides a synthesis of studies conducted by the Participate Participatory Research Group (PRG) in 29 countries, and attempts to identify and draw out the patterns of change that emerge across them from people's accounts of their own experiences of moving in or out of poverty and marginalisation. More details


Representation and Inclusion in School Councils in Mozambique

IDS Research Report 84 (2018)

This study was conducted as part of the Citizen Engagement Programme (Programa Cidadania e Participação (CEP)) in Mozambique – an empowerment and social accountability initiative to improve the quality of education and health services by increasing citizens’ influence on the management of schools and health units, the formulation of education and health policies, and the provision of education and health services. More details

Image of Participate Policy Brief Issue 04

Participatory Accountability for the SDGs: Beyond Social Accountability

People who are most marginalised need to participate in the monitoring and accountability of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) if the ‘leave no-one behind’ ambition is to be met. Participatory accountability is necessary for their realities to be understood and for their voices to be heard. More details

Image of cover of Participate Policy Brief Issue 03

Using Knowledge from the Margins to Meet the SDGs: The Real Data Revolution

Participate Policy Briefing 3 (2017)

As efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) gain momentum, we need to consider the inclusiveness of the data revolution. Knowledge from people living on the margins of society needs to be recognized, valued and embedded in the data to make visible the complex realities of their lives. More details

Front cover of Learning Report

Participatory Monitoring and Accountability and the Sustainable Development Goals: A Learning Report of the Participate Network

Accountability describes the rights and responsibilities that exist between people and the institutions that affect their lives, including government, civil society and the private sector. This report is intended as a learning document, both to record key lessons and important insights from Participate’s Participatory Monitoring and Accountability for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) work, and to prompt and encourage future learning and inquiry for organisations working for transformation and social justice. More details

Shaking Accountability in Mexico

12 Oct 2017
By Erika Lopez Franco

SDGs: genuinely reflecting priorities of poorest & most marginalised?

06 Jul 2017
By Jo Howard, Erika Lopez Franco

When people with disabilities drive research

15 Mar 2016
By Erika Lopez Franco

Thematic Expertise:
Accountability; Capacity Development; Children and Youth; Disability and Development; Governance; Participatory methodologies; Politics and Power; Social Policy; Sustainable Development Goals; Post MDGs.

Geographic Expertise:
Latin America and the Caribbean; Sub Saharan Africa; Bolivia; Colombia; Mexico; Mozambique; Peru; South Africa; Uganda.