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About the Social Development team

We understand that poverty is much more than a simple lack of income and productive resources – and tackling poverty requires more than just economic growth.

To achieve meaningful, equitable, and sustainable solutions, poverty reduction strategies must be rooted in a contextualised understanding of issues around inclusion and equity in access to resources, services and opportunities; and the relationships between different groups of people and the formal and informal institutions they interact with.

Our thematic hubs

Gender, equity, and inclusion

Particular groups of people and individuals remain excluded from the resources, services, and opportunities that could help them move out of poverty. Our work addresses inequity in development outcomes by understanding how and why particular people and groups are excluded and developing contextually appropriate policy and programmatic solutions.

We work on gender, inclusion, and equity across the policy cycle, including:

  • strengthening the capacity of sub-national governments in Brazil to design, implement and evaluate policies to increase women’s economic empowerment and agency, and prevent violence against women and girls (VAWG); and
  • developing a framework to capture the results of DFID’s global portfolio of VAWG projects, including a theory of change for VAWG policy advocacy.

We mainstream gender, inclusion, and equity in the design and implementation of large programmes across a range of sectors. Examples include Action on Climate Today in South Asia, Ghana Oil and Gas for Inclusive Growth, and the Kenya Extractives Programme.

Voice, empowerment, and accountability

Voice, empowerment, and accountability have intrinsic value in themselves. They are also instrumental in building the resources, assets, and capabilities that enable poor and marginalised people to hold decision makers to account and to benefit equitably from broader development outcomes.

Our work increases citizen capacities and opportunities to participate in decision making and exercise greater control over their own development, and strengthens accountability mechanisms to hold decision makers to account. Examples include:

  • using political economy analysis to inform the design of DFID’s Vietnam Empowerment and Accountability Programme, and designing a monitoring and evaluation approach to capture complex, intangible outcomes;
  • implementing DFID’s Sub National Governance Programme, which improved public services in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces by increasing the capacity of sub-national authorities to identify and respond to citizen’s identified needs; and
  • evaluating DFID’s Citizen Engagement Programme in Mozambique, which aimed to improve the quality of health and education services by supporting citizens to monitor services and engage with service providers to address identified problems.

Social norms and behaviour change

Social norms are shared beliefs/expectations that influence and regulate the behaviours considered appropriate or inappropriate for individuals within particular social contexts and social reference groups.

Our work focuses on understanding what social norms exist, how they function, and how they can be transformed, abandoned, or created to achieve the desired change. Examples include:

  • using operational research to determine the barriers and enablers for behavioural change related to breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices in northern Nigeria and Pakistan;
  • evaluating DFID’s Stamping Out and Preventing Gender Based Violence Programme in Zambia, and assessing whether and how social norms, attitudes, and behaviours towards violence have changed; and
  • evaluating the Buffalo City HIV Prevention Programme to understand risk perceptions, knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding risky sexual behaviour in some of South Africa’s poorest townships, through analysing social norms and structures that guide what is means to be a young woman in the townships, both from the perspective of young women themselves and others.

Analytical frameworks and participatory processes

There is now wide recognition that poverty is much more than a simple lack of income and productive resources. We use a wide range of analytical methods which take into account the multi-dimensional and dynamic nature of poverty and vulnerability, the formal and informal institutions within a given context, how different groups benefit from or are disadvantaged by development initiatives and how power dynamics, interactions and relationships mediate social inclusion and change. Techniques such as political economy analysis, poverty and social impact analysis, social and gender analysis, and survey and participatory monitoring work are available, and may be combined with participatory approaches that emphasise the process of research and analysis as an empowering tool for individuals and communities. We have used these methods to provide recommendations for practitioners and policymakers that are practical as well as socially and politically feasible.

Our People

The Social Development team is led by Simon Brook.

Emma Jones is principal consultant and voice, empowerment, and accountability (VEA) hub lead. Emma has extensive experience of managing, evaluating, and supporting VEA programmes. Emma also has expertise in gender and inclusion, community engagement, social norms, and behavioural change, nutrition and, social protection.

Terry Roopnaraine is senior consultant and analytical frameworks and participatory processes hub lead. Terry is experienced in using multidisciplinary methodologies as an effective tool for generating knowledge targeted at refining processes, driving policy, and improving outcomes across a spectrum of development sector intervention fields including gender, nutrition, livelihoods, agriculture, and social protection.

Sope Otulana is a senior consultant and gender, inclusion, and equity hub lead. Sope’s specialist expertise lies in social inclusion, poverty and vulnerability, livelihoods, gender, tackling violence against women and girls (VAWG), child protection, and voice and accountability.

Chris Hearle is a consultant. Chris is experienced in using qualitative, evaluative, and participatory methodologies to understand gender and inclusion issues, including on social protection, gender-based violence, and women’s economic empowerment.

Johanna Wallin is a consultant and social norms and behaviour change hub lead. Johanna’s focus is on empowerment and social inclusion, gender, tackling violence against women and girls (VAWG), social norms and behaviour change, ethics, participatory, and qualitative methods.