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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 citizen-led social and political action and the roles of international actors. He is also a course facilitator for the Rethinking Accountability Strategies for a Changing World short course.

His work explores pathways to better governance relationships and more inclusive societies, drawing on a career in public sector and civil society reform and advocacy, and engagement in multiple IDS research programmes and learning partnerships.

Colin was programme research officer on the DFID-funded Action for Empowerment and Accountability research programme, which explored how social and political action in conflict-affected contexts leads to shifts in empowerment and accountability. He also supported our innovative action learning partnership with the International Budget Partnership, Learning with SPARK, 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 in community development and civil society strengthening, in public sector policy reform, and in civil society policy advocacy. 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...


Unpacking Donor Action (A4EA)

How is social and political action for empowerment and accountability enabled and supported by donors working in specific fragile, conflict- and violence-affected settings? Many donor organisations aim in some way to empower people living in contexts of fragility, conflict and violence, and...



The messy realities of everyday governance: six dilemmas for development practice

How do marginalised people meet their governance needs and get problems solved in conflict-affected places? The Action from Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) research programme found that complex local systems shape who gets access to what, when and how. How often do we find...

17 February 2022


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....