The World Bank is having a big internal debate about Power and Governance. Here’s why it matters.

July 27, 2016

Deworming Delusions and the flimsiness of ‘evidence-based policy’

July 27, 2016

I need your help: Theories of Change for promoting Empowerment/Accountability in Fragile States

July 27, 2016
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I love the summer lull. Everyone heads off for holidays, there are no meetings, so I can get my head down and

Anyone seen a good Theory of Change?

Somalia: Anyone seen a good Theory of Change?

write. Last year, it was wrestling How Change Happens to the finishing line. This year is less cosmic, but still interesting, and I need your help.

Subject: Theories of change for Empowerment and Accountability (E&A) programming in Fragile and Conflict Affected States (FCAS). This is one of the inception papers for a new, acronym-tastic research programme on E&A in FCAS, led by IDS, with Oxfam and several others. Findings a couple of years.

The task: An evidence synthesis paper (full ToRs here – ToRs Synthesis paper on Theories of Change Action in Fragile and Conflict States).

Given the particularities of context, E&A outcomes in FCAS are expected to be achieved through somewhat different pathways, in which informal institutions, a diversity of non-state actors and local states play a greater role than in other settings. Donor interventions have so far focused on working initially on the supply side (through public sector reform efforts) and now more on the demand side (the citizen-led accountability work). However, it is increasingly clear that neither of these strategies are delivering the scale of change that is needed—and there has been more of a shift towards ‘politically smart, locally-led’ approaches.

This synthesis paper will unpack the different theories of change currently used to guide support for social and political action for E&A in FCAS, and how the evidence stacks up against them.

What I’m looking for – sources:

Existing literature or systematic reviews

Relevant documentation from networks (Developmental Leadership Program, Doing Development Differently, Thinking and Working Politically) and the Overseas Development Institute

Relevant documentation from DFID (eg work in Mozambique), World Bank, SDC and DFAT

Relevant documentation from INGOs

And of course, because it’s about theories of change, there has to be a diagram (apologies for lousy quality – no link to fuzzy thinking, obvs)


Over to you – please send links, documents etc either via comments or direct via email.



  1. UN WIDER looked a bit into fragility, civil society and accountability in the ‘Does aid work?’ work they did for the Nordic countries a couple of years ago. Also the RTE of the Danish civil society policy is focusing on fragility in a forthcoming report. I can provide you with a contact if you are interested.

  2. The SLRC ( ) has a number of potentially relevant findings and papers. Perhaps the best short starting point would be here for now – with further syntheses of key findings coming later this year.

    And do have a browse through recent SLRC publications if you’re feeling enthused –

    Adam Pain’s stuff on village level governance and Ashley’s on networked governance in Afghanistan are potentially relevant. Also Lisa Denney’s work on Sierra Leone and capacity building approaches in the health system –

  3. I just started reading this, there’s a lot of interesting ideas there, but one suggestion I would make now is that you should define what you mean by Theories of Action. You do this for ToC, but I am never quite sure what ToA means to you.

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