What do we know about the impact of VEA interventions? This table (PDF, 500 KB) organises the research and evidence included in this guide into three types of intervention – voice and participation, empowerment, and accountability – and four types of impact: on access to public services, education outcomes, health-related behaviour and outcomes, and on inclusive institutions.
Limitations of the evidence base
Overall, the size and quality of the evidence on the impact of VEA is limited and inconclusive. Much of the available literature is policy-oriented, opinion-based, or secondary. Empirical research in this field has primarily applied observational, qualitative research design. There are comparatively few quasi-experimental designs (except in the health sector) and only a small sample of systematic reviews are available. Geographically, literature from Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America dominates, while the Pacific, Middle East and North Africa are less studied.
The limited evidence indicates VEA interventions have had positive, negative and neutral impacts. There are also gaps: There is a paucity of research on the long-term effects of VEA, and on hard-to-measure outcomes like power relations, political inclusion and changes in attitudes and norms. The political processes that underlie VEA, such as coalition-building and collective action, are comparatively neglected. The influence of variables such gender, age, ethnicity and class on the functioning and impact of VEA interventions is also not well researched.