Public sector institutional reform


The public sector is the single most important investment instrument for the state, and improving the way it is managed is critical for development outcomes including service delivery, social protection and private sector regulation. Public sector governance reform involves institutional reform – that is, changing the rules and norms that govern public sector activity. How can ...» more

Gender and conflict


What do we know about the role of gender inequality in producing or exacerbating the structural causes of violence and conflict, and about the multi-layered effects of violence and conflict on gender relations? What do we know about how to support gender equality in fragile and conflict-affected situations (FCAS)? This Topic Guide introduces the research evidence. ...» more

Human rights

UN Human Rights Council, Geneva

This topic guide provides an introduction to the interactions and links between human rights and international development. Human rights are increasingly visible in international development language, policies and programmes. Human rights, and the principles they are based on, are argued to improve the effectiveness of development programmes. But beyond that, a human rights ...» more

Inclusive growth

Woman in small shop Ghana

Absolute poverty has fallen substantially over the last 30 years, with most of this reduction attributable to rapid economic growth in developing countries. Yet growth often does not meet the needs of the poor. Economic growth in the absence of measures to ensure the sustained equitable distribution of its benefits has frequently perpetuated the concentration of wealth in the ...» more

Tax reform


Tax reform can reduce tax evasion and avoidance, and allow for more efficient and fair tax collection that can finance public goods and services. It can make revenue levels more sustainable, and can promote future independence from foreign aid and natural resource revenues. There is increasing recognition of taxation’s role in state-building, in addition to greater ...» more

Political economy analysis

Dhaka steamers (Bangladesh)

Political economy analysis (PEA) aims to situate development interventions within an understanding of the prevailing political and economic processes in society – specifically, the incentives, relationships, and distribution and contestation of power between different groups and individuals. Such an analysis can support more politically feasible and therefore more effective ...» more

Political systems

Timor-Leste Holds Second Round of Presidential Election

Political systems are the formal and informal political processes by which decisions are made concerning the use, production and distribution of resources in any given society. Formal political institutions can determine the process for electing leaders; the roles and responsibilities of the executive and legislature; the organisation of political representation (through ...» more

Decentralisation and local government

Court Point, Sylhet

Estimates suggest that decentralisation is being pursued in over 80% of developing countries worldwide. For many people, local government is the part of government that most directly impacts on their lives, particularly via the provision of services like water, sanitation, and primary education and healthcare. Further resources The following resources were included in GSDRC's ...» more

Service delivery

UNAMID Delivers Water to Darfur Students during Exam Period

Equitable access to essential public services is vital for human development, inclusive growth, and tackling persistent inequality. This topic guide provides an overview of the best available evidence on inclusive service delivery. It includes lessons from cases where aid has been effective at addressing weak front-line incentives, where services have been delivered in very ...» more

Inclusive institutions

Jessica Lea / DFID: Peer educator, Rihanata Ouedraogo, leads a group discussion on FGM/C in Burkina Faso

Institutions are the formal and informal rules and norms that structure citizens’ rights, entitlements, opportunities and voice. How can policymakers and practitioners support inclusive institutions to promote development that ‘leaves no-one behind’? What do we know about what has – or hasn't – worked, and where? This Topic Guide synthesises the evidence, debates and approaches ...» more

Sequencing reforms in fragile states

Afghan Students Back to School

How can governments in fragile and conflict affected states (FCAS) plan and manage reforms when everything is urgent and important, and when capacity and resources are low? How can external actors strategically support the fulfilment of essential and expected state functions? This Topic Guide provides an overview of the evidence that examines the sequencing of statebuilding and ...» more

Voice, empowerment and accountability

Oxfam's water and sanitation committee, Jamam refugee camp

Voice, empowerment and accountability (VEA) interventions aim to support poor and marginalised people to build the resources, assets, and capabilities they need to exercise greater choice and control over their own development, and to hold decision-makers to account. This guide provides an overview of the best available evidence on the impact of VEA interventions. It identifies ...» more

Conflict sensitivity

Relief effort for Syrian refugees in Kawrgosk refugee camp, Irbil, Northern Iraq. 21-23 August 2013

Reflection among aid actors after the devastating genocide in Rwanda led to the realisation that humanitarian and development actors contributed to increasing tensions and exacerbating the conflict. Aid interventions have since been understood to become a part of the context – and in conflict settings, to become part of the conflict. This acknowledgement that aid is not neutral ...» more



Conflict is inherent in all societies and arises when two or more groups believe their interests are incompatible. ‘Conflict’ is not, however, interchangeable with ‘violence’. Non-violent resolution is possible when individuals and groups have trust in their governing structures, society and institutions to manage incompatible interests. Conflict becomes a problem when this ...» more

Statebuilding and peacebuilding

ONUB: Demobilization of Burundian Military

Statebuilding and peacebuilding, while conceptually distinct, are becoming more closely integrated in academic and policy circles. This Topic Guide supplement is one of two supplements that explore this development: Statebuilding and Peacebuilding in Situations of Conflict and Fragility looks at the links (and tensions) between statebuilding and peacebuilding, how these ...» more


NP Kenya 211011_36

Gender is a way of looking at how social norms and power structures affect different groups of men and women. Understanding that men and women, boys and girls experience poverty differently, and face different barriers in accessing services, economic resources and political opportunities, helps to target interventions. ...» more

Disaster resilience

Mapping risks in remote Bull Sirpi

The impacts of disasters on development, poverty and vulnerability have led to calls for improving disaster resilience – the capacity to cope with and adapt to shocks and stresses associated with natural hazards. What do we know about what can enable or constrain disaster resilience? This Topic Guide for policymakers and practitioners synthesises the evidence, approaches and ...» more

Civil service reform

South Sudan: Anniversary of the World's Newest Country 
Civil service support officers providing on-the-job training to their South Sudanese counterparts.

Improving a country's civil service can further development goals. Reforming the civil service is important in improving governance, service delivery, economic policy and public financial management. What do we know about what has – or hasn't – worked in civil service reform, and where? What lessons emerge from the literature? ...» more