Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA)

start date
1 Apr 2016
end date
31 Mar 2018

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.

Graffiti image Bring Back Our Girls campaign - credit: Tim Green
Credit: 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 (A4EA) 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 focuses 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).

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Image of Anuradha Joshi
Anuradha Joshi

Cluster Leader

Image of Colin Anderson
Colin Anderson

Research Officer

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

Image of Mariz Tadros
Mariz Tadros

Research Fellow

Image of Sarah Goodier
Sarah Goodier

Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning (MEL) Specialist

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



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...


The role of external actors (part of the A4EA programme)

Under the theme of "the role of external actors", this collection of projects from the A4EA programme is examining the best ways for external actors, particularly donors and NGOs, can support internally-led social and political actions that lead to greater empowerment and accountability, or to...

Recent work

Working Paper

Women in Politics: Gaining Ground for Progressive Outcomes in Pakistan

IDS Working Paper;519

This paper is an analysis of findings from a study of women’s political voice in Pakistan under the A4EA Research Programme. It aims to contribute to the growing body of literature around how feminist mobilisation and political voice leads to progressive policy outcomes.

1 November 2018

Working Paper

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

IDS Working Paper 513

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...

Image of Naomi Hossain
Naomi Hossain & 5 others

1 June 2018