Governance Diaries of the Poor


We do not have much understanding of what empowerment and accountability mean to poor people through their lived experiences. In fact, in fragile and conflict-affected settings, especially in areas affected by violent conflict, we have little understandings of how ordinary people interact with formal public institutions or informal ones.

In situations of low trust, fear and violence, how do people navigate through relevant systems to meet their governance needs? Do people find these encounters empowering or disempowering? What are the micro sources of social and political action?  How are these experiences shaped by history as well as the current socio-political context?

About the research

Building on the methodology developed by Portfolios of the Poor, a financial fly-on-the-wall account of how poor people manage money, this project aimed to understand the household’s experiences of governance, addressing the gap in knowledge about how people experience living and interacting with multiple authorities, and how they are able to make claims on them.

See also A4EA phase 2 research on Governance at the Margins which explores marginalised people’s engagement with public authorities.

Project details

start date
1 April 2017
end date
31 December 2018


About this project


Recent work

Impact Story

New insights on accountability and empowerment in conflict settings

The IDS-led international research programme, Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) concluded in 2021 with a powerful final report, ‘Against the Odds’, which shares new insights on how accountability, governance and citizen empowerment play out differently in fragile and...

18 August 2022

Working Paper

Who Can We Count On? Authority, Empowerment and Accountability in Mozambique

IDS Working Paper 546

In this paper, we explore the use of a governance diaries methodology to investigate poor households’ interactions with authority in fragile, conflict and violence-affected settings in Mozambique.

2 February 2021