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.

Graffiti image Bring Back Our Girls campaign - credit: Tim Green
Credit: Tim Green (CC-BY-2.0)

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 A4EA programme

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

  • Phase 1 (April 2016 – December 2018): research focused on Egypt, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria and Pakistan, and looked at 1) Meanings and expressions of empowerment and accountability; 2) Pathways to accountability bargains; 3) Women’s social and political action; and 4) the role of external actors, particularly donors.
  • Synthesising Phase 1 (Jan 2019 – March 2019)
  • Phase 2 (April 2019 – December 2020): Building on findings from the first phase, Phase 2 will look at 1) when, why and how do marginalised citizens choose to strategically avoid direct interactions with authorities and work ‘beneath the radar’? 2) struggles over energy access 3) under what conditions does women’s social and political action contribute to the strengthening of women’s empowerment and lead to accountability outcomes that promote gender equity? and 4) the theory and practice of donor action in enabling social and political action for empowerment and accountability
  • Synthesising Phase 2 and programme conclusion (Jan 2021 – March 2021)

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

Director (CREID)

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

Closing Civic Space and Inclusive Development in Ethiopia

IDS Working Paper 527

This paper presents findings from a case study exploring the prospects for measuring the impacts of restricted civic space on development in Ethiopia. It is part of a larger inquiry into the phenomenon of restrictions on civil society activity around the world, including but not only in...

25 April 2019