Building Sustainable Inclusion: from Intersecting Inequalities to Accountable Relationships

This project focuses on the need to consider and address intersecting inequalities – the spatial, economic and identity-based drivers of poverty and inequality – if the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are to be successful.
Project status
Closed for applications

Building inclusive governance that enables the engagement of marginalised groups is central to the SDGs and the global call to ‘leave no one behind’. Previous research indicates that SDG 16 – building accountable and inclusive institutions – is also an important gateway to reach other goals. Yet, these goals cannot be achieved without addressing intersecting inequalities. Failure to do so risks leaving the most marginalised behind.

This project represents a new phase of the Participate Initiative, a participatory research programme which generated high-quality evidence on the reality of poverty, and brought marginalised perspectives into the post-2015 debate. In the current project, IDS is working with five partners of the Participate Network, to:

  • Use participatory learning to explore the experiences of intersectionality of highly marginalised groups in India, Uganda, South Africa, Ghana and Egypt
  • Foster on-going dialogue between these groups, duty bearers and other stakeholders to generate theoretical and practical knowledge on how to develop accountable relationships in reality
  • Provide evidence and insight for policy makers about effective pathways to inclusive and responsive governance, and make a timely input to knowledge on the role of participatory processes in increasing sustainable impact during SDG implementation.


The five partners are working on a range of research processes as follows: 

  • Denotified and Nomadic Tribes (DNT) in India: Praxis is facilitating action research with these hidden and stigmatised communities. Praxis works with community volunteers in five states to gather participatory statistics and collect stories on SDG targets and to analyse these in ‘Ground Level Panels’.
  • People living with disabilities and people living with HIV/Aids in North-Eastern Uganda: Socajapic (Soroti Catholic Justice and Peace Commission) is using action learning to build capacities of these neglected groups in their wider marginalised communities in NE Uganda, to engage with decentralised local government planning, monitoring and accountability mechanisms using formal and informal methods (e.g. citizen charters, Barazas, radio talk shows, community forum theatres).
  • Young people and community activists living in extreme urban insecurity in South Africa: Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation (SLF)’s research process is building on piloted participatory visual research outputs and linking them to a social media campaign to generate evidence and leverage spaces for accountability on citizen-based monitoring of policing.
  • Landless women labourers in Ghana: Radio Ada will work with the Songor Women’s Collective to develop their voice through community radio and strengthen accountability of the newly elected national government.
  • Children and adults living with HIV/Aids in Egypt: Center for Development Services (CDS) will use visual methods (digital stories, collective video) to work with these groups and develop collaborative solutions with NGOs and government actors in Cairo and Alexandria.

As the project progresses in each country, the researchers are grappling with how to link greater awareness of excluded identities to sustainable accountability relationships. For instance, the process in Uganda brings together different marginalised groups (women, the elderly, people with disabilities, people living with HIV & AIDS) and through a participatory workshop they have begun to build solidarities across these groups. The groups will work within their constituencies and then come together to engage with local government decision-makers. Here a test will be, if people are more aware of the interconnected inequalities that they and others experience, can this build solidarities so that they can hold duty bearers to account more effectively? And when duty bearers are more aware of the layers of exclusion that many citizens experience, will they be more responsive?

Further details about this project can be found on the Together 2030 Blog

Project outputs

Navigating the Pathways from Exclusion to Accountability: From Understanding Intersecting Inequalities to Building Accountable Relationships

Principal Investigator: Ms Joanna Howard, Institute of Development Studies

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