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The Role of External Actors in Supporting Social and Political Action towards Empowerment and Accountability with a Focus on Fragile, Conflict- and Violence-Affected Settings

This paper explores the role and experience of external actors, particularly donors, in supporting social and political action in fragile, conflict and violence affected settings.

Evidence is distilled from a wide range of synthesised sources to generate relevant findings and questions in relation to what we know and what we don’t. Included among the source material is a 2016 macro-evaluation of DFID’s empowerment and accountability (E&A) programmes which examined over 50 DFID funded projects.

Themes which emerge relate to how external actors need to think about the context and work politically; who are the most appropriate social and political actors to support in E&A; whether a direct or indirect approach to support for E&A achieves more tangible outcomes; whether external actors should move beyond short-term tools and tactics focused on one-sided engagement; and whether programmes should be designed around more strategic, multi-faceted interventions. The paper concludes with identifying a number of gaps in the evidence which are translated into a range of questions which could potentially inform the Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) research programme.