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Colin Anderson

Research Officer

Colin Anderson is an IDS Research Officer working across a portfolio that explores what drives changes in citizen-state relationships, with a particular focus on the role of international actors.

Drawing on a 20 year career in public sector and civil society reform and advocacy, his work explores pathways to better governance relationships and more inclusive societies.

At IDS, Colin works as programme research officer on the DFID-funded Action for Empowerment and Accountability research programme, which explores how social and political action in fragile and conflict-affected contexts leads to shifts in empowerment and accountability. He also supports our innovative action learning partnership with the International Budget Partnership, Learning with SPARK, which is exploring how citizen collective action can be bolstered to bring about meaningful changes in fiscal governance and accountability. Colin is also part of the teaching team on our MA Governance, Development and Public Policy.

Prior to joining IDS, Colin worked for many years in community development and civil society strengthening, and in public sector policy reform. Thematically his work has had particular focus on education and care services for children and young people, but with a consistent emphasise on motivating greater service responsiveness to the needs of the marginalised and building public sector accountability. From 2014 – 2016 he worked with the national coalition of education CSOs in Cambodia, developing advocacy actions that drew from community-generated evidence and priorities. In recent years he has worked on a number of projects exploring social and political dynamics in Myanmar and their implications for accountability.

At IDS Colin’s research examines the ways in which more inclusive, equitable and accountable governance relationships are built and sustained. Much of his work concerns the politics of development and how development assistance in the field of governance and civil society is shaped and experienced at multiple levels by different people. He has a particular interest in social accountability approaches, and how these may alter citizen-state relationships.



Navigating Civic Space in a Time of Covid-19

The Navigating Civic Space in a Time of Covid project examined patterns of changing civic space and civic action in Mozambique, Nigeria and Pakistan during the first nine months of the Covid-19 pandemic. How did the pandemic affect already shrinking civic space, particularly for activists and...


Learning with SPARK

Learning with SPARK is an innovative action learning partnership between the Institute of Development Studies, the Accountability Research Center and the International Budget Partnership (IBP). It aims to generate knowledge from a significant new programme run by the IBP – called SPARK...



Navigating Civic Space in a Time of Covid: Synthesis Report

Since long before the Covid-19 pandemic emerged in 2020, civic space has been changing all over the globe, generally becoming more restricted and hazardous. The pandemic brought the suspension of many fundamental freedoms in the name of the public good, providing cover for a deepening...

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Colin Anderson & 9 others

18 May 2021


Governance and Building Back Better

Positioning Paper

The pandemic is in many ways a crisis of governance. Its magnitude and mitigation are determined by the nature of policy responses and crisis management by leaders and governments, and existing socioeconomic inequality has led to a disproportionate impact on some groups.

30 September 2020

Working Paper

How Do Donor-led Empowerment and Accountability Activities Take Scale into Account? Evidence from DFID Programmes in Contexts of Fragility, Conflict and Violence

IDS Working Paper 536

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...

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Colin Anderson & 2 others

3 April 2020

Working Paper

Perceptions of Value Added Tax Filing and Invoicing Compliance in Ethiopia: The Case of Three Federal Branch Offices in Addis Ababa

ATAP Working Paper 11

African governments are increasingly seeking to improve tax compliance in the pursuit of domestic revenue sources. Despite this trend, there is limited understanding of value added tax (VAT) compliance in Africa. In Ethiopia, increased VAT compliance is essential for the government to meet its...

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Colin Anderson & 3 others

17 June 2019

Colin Anderson’s recent work



The Governance research cluster works across a number of thematic areas that are focused on ensuring citizens are represented and governed fairly in a world of changing state authorities. Our work critically examines public authority and the institutions, networks and politics that shape it....