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Governance overview

Good governance, and the promotion and protection of human rights, is central to our poverty reduction efforts. That is because good governance is a vital ingredient in efforts to reduce hunger, support inclusive and sustainable growth, and build better accountability

A local community gathering

Governance and human rights matter

Many of the poorest countries in the world have institutions and governments that are not delivering on their responsibilities to their citizens. They frequently suffer from a lack of capacity, weak opposition and civil society, poor standards of human rights, and corruption.

However, there are grounds for optimism. More countries in Africa now have democratically-elected governments than has ever been the case before. Peaceful elections have become more the norm across Africa, and are more frequent.

Also, Africa is increasingly funding its own development – the continent more than tripled its revenue collection in the last ten years. The African Union (AU) has adopted a tougher line on unconstitutional changes of government.

Good governance, and the promotion and protection of human rights, is central to our poverty reduction efforts.

Our response

Our aim is to integrate good governance and human rights throughout all of our work, and to support positive change through our specific support for governance programmes and initiatives.

Our priority areas in governance

Guided by our Good Governance Policy (PDF, 182.2kb) our main areas of focus are:

Supporting research about what works

We have learned that good governance cannot be imposed from outside. It requires ownership and leadership in the countries we work in, as well as active citizen engagement from below. That is why we are investing efforts in understanding each local context, supporting realistic and credible plans, enabling local problem-solving, and focusing on what works.

In instances where the commitment to good governance and human rights is low, we work on addressing these problems, and make the necessary adjustments in how we operate.

What we spend

We are channelling 14% of our bilateral aid to governance and civil society (see Analysis of Bilateral ODA by Sector – Annex 7, Irish Aid Annual Report (PDF)). This is high by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) standards.

Our partners

Our main partners are :


Through our work, we are contributing to important results – results which matter to the lives of some of the world’s poorest people. For example:

  • We are increasing access to justice for the poor in Uganda 
  • We are building a strong and vibrant civil society in Mozambique 
  • We are strengthening institutions of accountability in Zambia 
  • We are supporting the efforts of African revenue authorities to collect more taxes, in ways that are more efficient, fairer and better promote good governance
  • We are encouraging parliaments to take a stronger role in holding governments and others to account

Find out about governance

Find out how we promote good governance and accountability in our partner countries.

Read Summary Report of the Public Sector Governance Reform Evaluation