Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA)

Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) is an international research programme which explores how social and political action can contribute to empowerment and accountability in fragile, conflict, and violent settings, with a particular focus on Egypt, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria and Pakistan.

Bring back our girls wall mural. Photo credit: Flickr / Tim Green

These social and political actions range from state-led initiatives to improve gender equality in Egypt through the creation of Equal Opportunities Units in government ministries, donor support of civil society organisations in Mozambique to hold the government to account, and faith-based organisations in Nigeria working with local communities around issues of governance and budget-tracking.

While a great deal has been written recently on approaches to empowerment and accountability, many of the lessons and approaches have been drawn from relatively stable, and democratic settings. However, an estimated two billion people currently live in countries where these conditions do not exist and their ability to live safe and fulfilling lives is affected by war, political instability and weak or repressive governments on a daily basis. By 2030, this number is estimated to roughly double, rising to almost four billion.

In this context, the Action for Empowerment and Accountability research programme will:

  • Strengthen the evidence base on how and under what conditions social and political action contributes to empowerment and accountability in fragile, conflict, and violence affected settings.
  • Provide evidence-informed practical and operational insights and lessons  for donors on how they can contribute to improved empowerment and accountability outcomes
  • Generate national, regional and international engagement and understanding of the research findings and their application across academia, civil society, the private sector and policy makers

The programme will develop and apply a variety of innovative, multi-method, interdisciplinary research strategies and data sources, both quantitative and qualitative, such as surveys, diaries which households use to record their experiences of governance, and action learning, to capture, conceptualise, measure, nuance and assess both the impact of social and political action and the interventions of donors and others on empowerment and accountability.

Focus countries

A4EA will focus primarily on five countries:

  • Egypt
  • Mozambique
  • Myanmar
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan

Research themes (pages under re-development)

  1. Meanings and Expressions
  2. Pathways to Accountability Bargains
  3. Women's Social and Political Action
  4. Role of External Actors

Programme partners

The programme is led by IDS and is being implemented by a consortium which also includes: the Accountability Research Center (USA), the Collective for Social Science Research (Pakistan), the Institute of Development and Economic Alternatives (Pakistan), Itad (UK), Oxfam (GB and Myanmar), and the Partnership for African Social and Governance Research (Kenya).

Funding

Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) is funded by UKaid from the UK government.

Stay up to date

Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to get email updates.

Image: Mural at West Vale. Credit: Tim Green

Photo of Alex Shankland, IDS Research Fellow More details

Photo of Alex Shankland, IDS Research Fellow More details

Photo of Alex Shankland, IDS Research Fellow More details

Photo of Anuradha Joshi, IDS researcher More details

Photo of Ashley Kuchanny More details

Photo of Bethan Smith More details

IDS staff or research student More details

Photo of Jenny Edwards, PPSC research team More details

Jonathan Fox Director Accountability Research Center. More details

IDS staff or research student More details

Photo of IDS researcher, Mariz Tadros More details

Miguel Loureiro photo More details

Photo of Naomi Hossain, IDS Research Fellow More details

More details

Photo of Rosemary McGee More details

Photo of Shandana Mohmand More details

Photo of Sohela Nazneen More details

Pathways to Accountability Bargains (part of the A4EA research programme)

This research theme, under the Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) Research Programme, is concerned with the following question: how can stable and inclusive political settlements (among elites) and a just social contract (between elites and different social groups) emerge that are based on accountable and responsive institutions? More details

The Role of External Actors (part of the A4EA research programme)

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?’ More details

Meanings and Expressions of Empowerment and Accountability (part of the A4EA programme)

This research theme, under the Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) Research Programme, is concerned with the meanings of empowerment and accountability from the point of view of the people’s experiences and perceptions, and this in turn means for collective action. More details


Wp515_FrontCover

What Does Closing Civic Space Mean for Development? A Literature Review and Proposed Conceptual Framework

IDS Working Paper 515 (2018)

What does closing civic space mean for development? Aid donors are concerned about the implications of restrictions on civil society for their partners and programmes, but to date there has been little clarity about what this means for development. More details

Wp513_FrontCover

Energy Protests in Fragile Settings: The Unruly Politics of Provisions in Egypt, Myanmar, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe, 2007–2017

IDS Working Paper 513 (2018)

How do popular protests about the basics of everyday life, specifically about energy, come about in settings where political authority is fragmented and conflict and repression common? How do state and political actors respond to protests which disrupt social and economic life, and undermine public authority? To what extent do such mass protests, often justified as inherently moral struggles over the basics of everyday life, empower the powerless or hold the powerful to account in such political settings? And how do external actors shape these events? More details

Wp503_FrontCover

The Role of External Actors in Supporting Social and Political Action towards Empowerment and Accountability with a Focus on Fragile, Conflict- and Violence-Affected Settings

IDS Working Paper 503 (2017)

This paper explores the role and experience of external actors, particularly donors, in supporting social and political action in fragile, conflict and violence affected settings. More details

WP499_FrontCover

Theories of Change for Promoting Empowerment and Accountability in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Settings

IDS Working Paper 499 (2017)

This paper explores the current state of thinking among a range of aid actors (multilaterals, bilateral, applied scholars and international non-governmental organisations) on how to promote empowerment and accountability in fragile, conflict and violence affected settings. More details

Wp488_FrontCover

The Role of Social and Political Action in Advancing Women’s Rights, Empowerment, and Accountability to Women

IDS Working Paper 488 (2017)

Through the lens of four case studies focused on women’s political participation (Palestine and Sierra Leone), and the passage of domestic violence law (Brazil and South Africa), this paper looks at the role of social and political action in advancing women’s rights. More details

Wp487_FrontCover

Innovative Methods for Research on Social and Political Action in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Settings

IDS Working Paper 487 (2017)

Fragile and conflict-affected settings present particular challenges for researchers seeking to study the effect of social and political action (SPA). These challenges are not simply due to prevalent violence and conflict, but contexts of insecurity can restrict the flow of information, key actors can be hard to identify, and if information can be found, vital pieces of the picture may be missing. More details

Wp484_FrontCover

The Political Economy of Economic Empowerment: Bringing Politics and Society Back In

IDS Working Paper 484 (2017)

Economic empowerment programmes designed to mitigate inequalities are increasingly becoming an important part of the portfolio for governments in low-income countries. More details

This is the front cover to the Making All Voice Count (MAVC) summary, 'Taking scale into account in transparency and accountability initiatives'.

Taking Scale into Account in Transparency and Accountability Initiatives (Summary)

Research Report Summary (2016)

This research summary is based on one section of a longer research paper by Jonathan Fox, which argues that looking at scale from different angles will assist in taking scale into account when developing strategic approaches to transparency and accountability that tackle symptoms rather than causes. More details

This is the front cover to the Making All Voice Count (MAVC) summary, 'Taking scale into account in transparency and accountability initiatives'.

Scaling accountability through vertically integrated civil society policy monitoring and advocacy

Working Paper (2016)

This Working Paper argues that, looking at scale from different angles will assist in taking scale into account when developing strategic approaches to transparency and accountability that tackle symptoms rather than causes. More details