Poor people are often excluded from participating in policy design and programmes that have direct impact on their lives, and central and local government institutions are often neither responsive nor accountable to the poor. Following the limited success of many accountability methods focusing on the state, attention has shifted towards strengthening the ‘voice’, or capacity, of ordinary citizens to directly participate in policy-making processes. This guide introduces some of the core debates and considerations around designing and implementing effective voice and accountability (V&A) interventions. It looks at the changing context of V&A work, tools for citizen engagement and how to measure the impact of V&A work. It explores relevant debates around deepening democracy, citizenship, rights, power and representation. It also highlights ways to develop pre-conditions for and create spaces for participation, including poverty reduction strategies (PRS), poverty and social impact analysis (PSIA), decentralisation and other participatory approaches to development.
This topic guide was prepared by Anna Orrnert and updated by Emma Broadbent. The GSDRC appreciates the contributions of John Gaventa (Institute of Development Studies) and Katja Jobes (DFID). Comments, questions or documents for consideration should be sent to email@example.com
The following document summaries were added in October 2010: