A range of issues on governance, participation, and accountability, including: citizenship, planning, economic investment, rights, and environmental impact.

This project examines a key assumption which underlies one of the main approaches to poverty reduction currently advocated and practised by many international development agencies.

Enormous energies and resources are devoted to institutional reform in order to improve the investment climate and thus promote economic growth. The assumption is that institutional reform comes first and investment follows.

flickr.com/photos/jafsegal/23166725889/ Varanasi, India

Poor people’s lack of voice and influence are globally recurring themes their own accounts of their poverty, and are indicative of their wider political disempowerment. This project evaluates attempts to tackle this core element of poverty through local governance reform. Its central research question is: to what extent do participatory initiatives within local governance enhance poor people’s opportunities for political empowerment?

It is proposed to evaluate how access to micro-finance and processes of formalisation can impact on poverty by investigating two policies in Ghana and Tanzania. The first is the expansion of micro-credit services into randomly selected communities by several partner NGOs. The second is the implications of a process of formalising business structures currently underway in Tanzania.

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