Democratic governance initiatives, part 2: policy advocacy (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1015)

This report examines democratic governance interventions with a focus on supporting policy advocacy



Links between democratic governance initiatives and poverty reduction: Please identify some examples of successful democratic governance interventions with a specific focus on supporting policy advocacy, and how do these interventions impact on poverty reduction? Please do a short literature review with an emphasis on lessons learnt. Please also identify and summarise evaluations of implemented development programmes.


It appears that there are many descriptive case studies of civil society advocacy campaigns to strengthen democratic governance, but few publicly available evaluations of the international interventions to provide support to these campaigns and the civil society organisations (CSOs) involved. Some studies do mention links between the policy advocacy initiatives and poverty reduction, but many do not. The literature includes recommendations to improve interventions’ documentation of the links between their outcomes and poverty reduction. Studies also highlight the challenges of assessing policy advocacy impacts and attributing changes to single, short-term advocacy projects.

Key lessons learned for CSOs include finding the balance between working constructively with governments without being overly cautious; using evidence-based research to back advocacy claims; ensure activities challenge existing gender inequities; and work with national and international actors that can improve the impact of campaigns. Lessons for donors include providing predictable, unearmarked and pooled funding; using transparent grant-making mechanisms involving state and non-state actors to build trust; investing in more political economy analyses and risk assessments at the design phase and more (continuous) monitoring and evaluation, including better documentation of links between the policy outcomes and longer-term goals. There are also recommendations for donors to support CSOs’ engagement with the government through involving government in the project design phase, working with government change agents, and using broader relationships with the government to advocate for more space for civil society.


Carter, B. Democratic governance initiatives, part two: policy advocacy (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1015). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2013) 10 pp.

Democratic governance initiatives, part two: policy advocacy (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1015)

Published 1 January 2013