Impact & Learning

Impact & Learning

The world spends billions of dollars doing things without carefully asking what works

Rakesh Rajani, Head and Founder of Twaweza

Global efforts to improve accountability and transparency have grown dramatically over the last two decades. For example, El Salvador and Liberia recently passed progressive freedom of information laws joining more than 80 countries with such legislation in place – up from just 13 in 1990. Elsewhere, hundreds of civil society organisations are working to promote issues such as transparency of public budgets to help improve state responsiveness, lower corruption and improve delivery of public services.

Learning what works

Yet there is little understanding of why, when and how initiatives succeed or fail. We lack information on how impact was achieved and how similar work can be scaled up and used across different political contexts. Our assumption is that with greater evidence and knowledge on the impact and effectiveness of transparency and accountability initiatives we will progress towards even greater impact, at scale. The Transparency and Accountability Initiative (T/A Initiative) works to improve the effectiveness of global accountability and transparency activities by learning where, when and how initiatives succeed or fail and helping to ensure that this knowledge is communicated and applied.

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Building the evidence base

We have reviewed the evidence of impact to date and use this as our baseline. Our research across a range of issues and contexts seeks to understand the key factors that lie behind success and failure. This includes commissioning research which includes for example, case studies of projects for trial and replication and long-term studies that track major transparency and accountability interventions. It also includes working with practitioners, funders and academics to ensure that innovative approaches to learning are applied by leading civil society organisations.

By pulling together best practice from sectors including natural resource governance and budget transparency, our research suggests new ways of improving the impact of global transparency and accountability policies and programmes.

Our research includes two other work areas:

  • The Policy Innovation working group identifies and implements innovative recommendations to improve transparency and accountability in programmes and policies.
  • The New Technologies working group stimulates and advances the wider use of new technologies in the transparency and accountability field.