Accountability is now a buzzword in contemporary development debates. It is central to development policy, whether government accountability (as a central component of good governance), corporate accountability (promoted by a swathe of standards and codes), or civil society accountability (claimed by people and organisations from the bottom up).
Yet with so many competing ideas, interpretations and practices, it is sometimes unclear how improved accountability is directly relevant to the lives of poor and marginalised people. In order to build accountable institutions that respond to claims by citizens, it is crucial to understand how accountability matters, for whom, and under what conditions it operates. This Policy Briefing looks at who benefits from improved accountability and focuses on how people claim accountability in practice.