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Citizen voice and state accountability: towards theories of change that embrace contextual dynamics

Briefing/policy papers

Written by Fletcher Tembo

The development industry is increasingly pushing practitioners to achieve results, and to do better in demonstrating what works, what does not, and explaining why. There is a growing interest in going beyond the  measurement of results to being able to understand the basis for success or failure. Consequently, the development of explicit theories of change (ToCs) is starting to be viewed as central to this process, as a key part of what constitutes ‘rigour’ in impact evaluations.

Citizen voice and accountability (CV&A) project interventions produce and reproduce diverse outcomes that are not amenable to linear models of ToCs. This paper uses a critical analysis of CV&A cases from the Mwananchi Governance and Transparency Fund (GTF) programme to examine how citizen voice and accountability happens in different governance contexts.

The analytical framework used in this paper draws on the well-known tools of outcome mapping (OM) and political economy analysis (PEA).

Key points:

  • Enabling citizens to influence government accountability is a complex process involving political dynamics at the citizens’ interface with state institutions;
  • Developing explicit theories of change (ToCs) from the start of programme planning helps planners delve into complex citizen–state dynamics; and
  • Fusing political economy analysis and outcome mapping tools can help develop a deeper understanding of these dynamics to generate more effective ways to achieve outcomes.
Fletcher Tembo