Making science work for development

Non-state actors in governance systems: friend or foe?

13 December
London or Online


Aoife McCullough @aoifemccullough - Research Fellow, ODI


Moctar Kane @MoctarKAN - Programme Manager, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Mali

Mariz Tadros @IDS_UK - Power and Popular Politics Cluster co-leader, Institute of Development Studies 

Mohamed Mubarak - Director, Marqaati 

Erik Bryld - Managing Director, Tana


In standard accountability programmes, the focus is often on restraining the power of the state. However, in places with limited state presence, the state may not be the main source of power. Non state actors often work to influence governance in positive and negative ways. These actors can include business and religious leaders, elders, NGOs and militia groups.

Presenting new ODI research in collaboration with Mott MacDonald, and drawing on perspectives from Somalia and Mali, this event explores the opportunities and challenges of improving accountability through working with non-state actors.

The discussion will be shaped around the idea of ‘safe-to-fail’ where failures as well as successes will be used to gain insights into what works in areas of limited statehood. In doing so this discussion offers valuable insights for practitioners, donors and service providers currently grappling with the question of how development actors can engage appropriately with non-state actors.