Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA)

start date
1 April 2016
end date
31 March 2021

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.

Download our latest report sharing key findings from the A4EA programme, ‘Empowerment and Accountability in Difficult Settings: What Are We Learning‘ by John Gaventa and Katy Oswald.


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.

About the Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) programme

The A4EA programme is structured in two research phases, with a synthesis period at the end of each phase:

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).

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Image of Anuradha Joshi
Anuradha Joshi

Research Fellow

Image of Colin Anderson
Colin Anderson

Research Officer

Image of Ed Small
Ed Small

Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning (MEL) Specialist

Image of Emilie Wilson
Emilie Wilson

Communications Officer

Image of Jenny Edwards
Jenny Edwards

Project Manager

Image of John Gaventa
John Gaventa

Director of Research

Ali Cheema, IDEAS
Tade Aina, PASGR
Ayesha Khan, CSSR
Richard Burge, Itad
Stephanie de Chassy, Oxfam
Jo Rowlands, Oxfam


Recent work


What does democratic participation mean in contexts of fragility, violence and conflict?

Around the world, practitioners and scholars are claiming that democracy is “in crisis”. The closing of civic spaces and the rise of populist practices that question established democracies increasingly feel like challenges to our ideals of development. These changes are something...

Gabriela de la Torre Rios
Angela Pajuelo Villón

30 September 2019

Working Paper

Commissions of Inquiry in Plateau State, Nigeria

IDS Working Paper 531

Nigeria’s Plateau State has been the scene of inter-community violence since the 1990s, involving several clashes in the city of Jos that took many lives within a matter of days. Between 1997 and 2014 different Commissions of Inquiry (COIs) were established to investigate specific episodes of...

1 August 2019


Reviving democracy: from crisis to innovation

Across the world, there is a new problem that we have in common: the crisis of democracy. But while this presents serious challenges, defining it as a global problem also opens up new pathways of learning from each other– not only about the nature of this crisis but also the solutions to...

Selen Ercan

30 July 2019