Participate: Participatory Monitoring and Accountability

The Participatory Monitoring and Accountability (PMA) programme marks a new phase of the Participate initiative. It aims to foster and support PMA learning processes that enable citizen participation for accountability to be embedded in development policy and practice.

From 2012-2014, Participate worked to bring the perspectives of people living in poverty and marginalisation into national and global consultations and decision-making spaces and processes, so that the post-2015 development agenda would be consistent with their realities, priorities and aspirations. People who participated in this research voiced a common desire: to be able to play an active role in developing their own futures, and in shaping, monitoring and implementing the policies and programmes that affect them.

In September 2015, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were formally approved by the United Nations General Assembly. The need for a participatory monitoring and accountability approach as an important component to the implementation of these goals has been acknowledged, and is the focus of this new phase of Participate.

About the PMA programme

The PMA programme (2015-2017) engages with this urgent agenda of the participatory monitoring of the SDGs. In alignment with the ‘leave no one behind’ framing within the post-2015 development agenda, the PMA programme is working with groups of people living in poverty and marginalisation to strengthen processes of citizen-led accountability. It builds on Participate’s global participatory research network, and its track record in demonstrating the value of participatory action research – in its many forms and approaches – as enabling people living in poverty and marginalisation to exercise accountability.

The programme comprises – in this first phase – of three ‘learning processes’. Through developing these, we aim to support policymakers, civil society, volunteer groups and citizens to take action to implement a participatory monitoring approach under the framing of the SDGs.

This new framing means that configurations and spaces of decision-making and governance are being renegotiated, and with them the sites, actors and strategies for accountability at local, national, and global levels. Against this backdrop, the programme will engage with three domains of learning to ensure accountability that is responsive to the realities of people living in poverty:

  • Mechanisms for bringing the perspectives of the poorest and most marginalised into national and global policy making spheres.
  • Mechanisms for engaging the poorest and most marginalised in local decision-making processes – focusing on action for social change through people’s collectives.
  • Mechanisms for developing private sector accountability.

Phase one project description

Phase one will involve three pilot learning processes running from November 2015 to March 2017. These processes will be conducted by members of Participate’s Participatory Research Group, supported by the Institute of Development Studies, in partnership with the Institute for Participatory Practices (Praxis).

The programme is collaborating with UNICEF and UNDP, with the purpose of building participatory approaches into SDG implementation to strengthen accountability and people-centred development. The first phase of learning is focused in three different African countries, with the expectation of opening up to other regions in subsequent phases.

Phase one will hence include the following:

  • Centre for Development Services, Egypt: The project aims to promote the rights of children and adolescents, both girls and boys living with HIV. This will be done through a unique model comprising a range of participatory monitoring activities and practices, and will contextually define basics of participatory accountability. Participatory action research will be used in this process to connect networks of diverse actors implicated in the process of accountability.
  • Radio Ada, Ghana Community Radio Network, Ghana: This pilot participatory action research will enable an exploration of the synergy between women’s collectives and community radio. It will highlight how citizen-driven accountability can deepen women’s empowerment and ability to impact policy planning at local and national levels. This will involve a shift in their engagement to a position of influence as opposed to only reacting to decisions after they are made.
  • Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation, South Africa: SLF will take an action learning approach to explore the complexities of violence and insecurity which are the most pressing problems in urban informal settlements in South Africa. Iterative participatory processes will identify the conditions under which action research and action learning can amplify the voices of marginalised citizens and reveal possibilities for increasing government accountability within a local, urban context.

The Institute for Participatory Practices (Praxis)

Praxis is initiating its work on participatory monitoring and accountability in partnership with IDS and the wider PMA process (UNICEF/Republic of Korea). The focus of Praxis’ work in this area is the historically marginalised and hidden communities in India known as Denotified Tribes (DNT).

DNT experience acute deprivation & poverty stemming from lack of constitutional recognition, budgetary allocation and legal safeguards, and are branded as criminals. This project is working with the DNT and the National Alliance Group for Denotified and Nomadic Tribes, and Partners in Change. Through action research processes Praxis is developing sustained interaction with them.The process will pilot approaches to building accountability of government and business to the DNT, and also ways of monitoring the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The lead Praxis researcher is Pradeep Narayanan.

Twitter: @participateSDGs

Key contacts

Joanna Howard

Research Fellow and Cluster Leader

Project details

start date
1 November 2015
end date
31 March 2017


About this project

Recent work


Participatory Accountability for the SDGs: Beyond Social Accountability

Participate Policy Briefing;4

People who are most marginalised need to participate in the monitoring and accountability of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) if the ‘leave no-one behind’ ambition is to be met. Participatory accountability is necessary for their realities to be understood and for their voices to be...

1 June 2017


Using Knowledge from the Margins to Meet the SDGs: The Real Data Revolution

Participate Policy Briefing;3

As efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) gain momentum, we need to consider the inclusiveness of the data revolution. Knowledge from people living on the margins of society needs to be recognized, valued and embedded in the data to make visible the complex realities of their...

1 June 2017