Taking scale into account: Strategies for vertical integration and building pro-accountability coalitions

As well as recognising the need to work in more adaptive and less linear ways, increasingly people working to generate greater accountability and responsiveness on the part of authorities are interested in how to ‘connect the dots’ between localised projects, initiatives, and reforms to impact the wider set of decision-making processes that affect people’s lives. This has also been of interest for international donors such as the UK Department for International Development, who have supported many different activities that have sought to join up the efforts of citizens, activists, and reformers across different ‘sites’ of decision-making in fragile and conflict-affected settings. DFID-funded programmes working in this way include, for instance, SAVI in Nigeria, DIALOGO  in Mozambique, and Pyoe Pin in Myanmar.

Together these programmes represent a substantial investment in new ways of working to try to support local actors to pursue opportunities for reform and realise rights and entitlements. The programmes are generating a wealth of data, and many have been the subject of close case studies, but they are now at a stage of evolution and implementation to allow more systematic cross-country comparisons and explore a number of key questions of wider relevance.

About the research project

Through this research project we aimed to expand our understanding of how this range of different approaches play out in challenging contexts. Looking across a set of DFID-funded programmes in different countries, the project draws out comparative findings on the practices of building pro-accountability coalitions across multiple parts of the governance landscape. It also explores the implications for doing this against the backdrop of the kinds of governance challenges faced by fragile and conflict-affected settings, with the aim of informing future programme design and practice and the ways in which these activities can contribute to the evidence base for future action.


Key contacts

John Gaventa

Research Fellow and Director, Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) programme


Jonathan Fox

Honorary Associate


Project details

start date
1 April 2017
end date
31 December 2018


In partnership with
Accountability Research Center

About this project


Recent work

Working Paper

How Do Donor-led Empowerment and Accountability Activities Take Scale into Account? Evidence from DFID Programmes in Contexts of Fragility, Conflict and Violence

IDS Working Paper 536

Development donors invest significantly in governance reform, including in contexts characterised by conflict and fragility. However, there is relatively little comparative study of their change strategies, and little understanding of what works and why. This paper explores the strategies of six...

Colin Anderson
Colin Anderson & 2 others

3 April 2020