Civil Society & Demand-Side Accountability

We strengthen societies’ ability to hold their governments accountable for delivering services by building the capacity of civil society, the media, parliaments and trade associations to define their priorities and concerns, to voice them persuasively to government, and to monitor its performance against those priorities. We provide training, mentoring, funding and relationship facilitation to improve the confidence and skills of individuals and organisations.

One strand of donor support for civil society seeks to provide a counterweight to the state. This encompasses support to actors and agencies that mobilise opinion and take actions to hold the state and individual organs of government to account for their actions.  This type of support can be wide, ranging from supporting media outlets, journalists and NGOs to debates on how the state budget is spent and influences policy.  Much support of this nature is more narrowly focused on accountability of the state, or influencing policy on individual sectors or issues, whether concerning rights of women and girls or media freedom.

Another strand of support, predominantly used in countries with weaker states, is for donors to work with and through civil society to deliver goods or services where state provision is unreliable or unavailable.

Finally, a third strand of support to civil society aims to build capacity in the third sector. This too can be very broad. Donors will often seek to mobilise support to build civil society in countries that are emerging from autocratic rule, where free-thinking civil society has been repressed and institutions such as a free press, independent think-tanks and political parties are absent. Donors will also provide more targeted support to civil societies in certain sectors, which often includes basic capacity building for individual civil society actors and the training of their staff.

Adam Smith International has provided support across all three of these strands and is particularly active in working with and through civil society actors to deliver goods and services in conflict-affected countries.

Click on each expertise area to find out more and see examples of our work.