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The Millennium Development Goals aim to halve the number of people in the world living in extreme poverty by 2015. But questions often surround commitments to fairer policies on debt, aid and trade, and progress towards the goals in many low-income countries is slow.

Discussion of poverty reduction strategies is often confined to a relatively narrow group of policy actors, and the opinions of the public – particularly poor people – are often insufficiently represented in decisions that will affect their daily lives.

We believe it is essential that there is greater awareness and understanding of these issues for the public to hold policymakers to account for their decisions – or a lack of them – and to play a part in poverty reduction debates.

Our governance programme uses communication to strengthen the participation, transparency and public action needed to hold the powerful to account. We select projects where communication can make a difference to the social inclusiveness of decision-making.

Panos London works to reduce poverty by strengthening accountability, and transparency, in governance

Selected Governance project

Relay: Communicating research


Academic research makes a crucial contribution to development but too often findings are kept within the research community. The media can play a part in communicating this knowledge.

Governance publications

All together now: oral testimony, theatre, media, debate

This case study explores how communication activities helped a marginalised community in Pakistan to speak out against the pollution ruining their lives.

Dams and development

The topic guide considers areas of potential conflict between countries, concerns over policy guidelines regarding dam building and the socio-economic impact of displacement.

Feeling the pinch: impacts of the financial crisis on developing countries

Overview Key issues Resources Links New research highlights some of the impacts that the global financial crisis is having on developing countries. Here unemployed people queue for their unemployed insurance fund (UIF) in Elizabeth, South Africa / James Oatway – Panos pics According to recent studies it is the world’s poorest who will be hit…

Tax matters

In many developing countries there is little public information or debate about taxation – even at election time. Wealthy and influential people evade tax, and public attitudes to taxation are often overwhelmingly negative. This media briefing offers journalists insights into the topic with facts, figures and story ideas.

Seen and heard

Children have a key role in supporting families and communities affected by HIV and AIDS, yet their views and contributions are often ignored. This paper examines issues in children’s participation in responses to HIV and AIDS.

Making poverty the story

Many international donors are yet to appreciate that a vibrant, independent media sector is essential for development and needs support.

At the heart of change

Belonging to a cooperative group gives these women in Cameroon the chance to communicate their views more widely. Sustainable development demands that people participate in the debates and decisions that affect their lives / Giacomo Pirozzi - Panos Pictures

In this landmark publication Panos London sets out our vision for the role of communication in long-term, sustainable development.

Common ground? Investigating the importance of managing land

Research shows that people’s capacity to access and use land is important for economic growth, for poverty reduction, and for promoting both private investment and transparent, accountable government. Governments have a responsibility to establish systems which ensure access to land and housing for

Ensuring a food secure future

Why the media have a crucial role in highlighting food security – and not just in times of crisis.

Making or missing the links?

Examining the polarised debate on the links between trade liberalisation, economic growth and poverty reduction.

Signed and sealed?

This media toolkit looks at how global trade rules are negotiated within and outside the World Trade Organization, and how journalists can raise debate on whether trade deals will benefit or damage people's lives.

Who’s richer, who’s poorer?

Some argue that Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers should play a central role in meeting the UN Millennium Development Goals. But are they helping, and are ordinary people being involved?  

Patents, pills and public health

An introduction to the issues surrounding the international agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and public health. 

Reducing poverty

Poverty Reduction Strategies were introduced in 1999 as the latest template for the world's poorest countries to get out of poverty. This report examines progress so far.

Food for all

Looking at global commitments to reduce hunger, this report asks how we can produce more food more sustainably, without destroying biodiversity or harming the environment.

Governing our cities

How should city governments balance the need to improve life for their poorest citizens with that of creating the infrastructure necessary to stimulate economic growth? 

Economics forever

Outlines some of the different ways being tried today to make the environment count in economic planning towards sustainable growth.

More power to the World Trade Organisation?

An overview of the World Trade Organization, its history, the challenges that it faces and its critics.

Diagnosing challenges

Exploring the links between poverty and health in the new millennium.

Trading in futures

An examination of the complex issues around the successor to the Lomé Convention that defined the EU's relationship with much of the developing world for nearly 25 years.

The future for microfinance

The pros and cons of microfinance and its implications for aid spending in other areas.

Feast or famine

An overview of the issues and challenges surrounding food security.

The lure of gold

How to ensure that the needs of developing countries and indigenous people are not forgotten in the rush to create profits from mining gold.

Globalisation and employment

An assessment of how the benefits of globalisation – the move towards a global economy where national borders cease to matter – have not been evenly distributed around the world.

Fish: a net loss for the poor?

A global snapshot of the 'fisheries crisis', including case-studies from India, Namibia and Senegal.

Governance blog posts & features

Media and governance: what the academics say

Two men read newspapers on the street of Lagos, Nigeria, on the day of presidential elections - Jacob Silberberg | Panos Pictures

Is there a link between the media and good governance? Development communications consultant and Panos London governing board trustee, Mary Myers, gives us a who’s who line-up of academics whose work gets to the heart of the matter.

Compensation for rape victims, or justice?

Detail from a poster made by WAD (Women Action for Development), the organisation that Ambra works for - Thingnam Anjulika Samom | Panos London

A new government scheme that has been recently rolled out in Manipur offers rape victims a chance to apply for financial compensation. However, Ambra fears that while the scheme will help women financially it won’t help to bring them justice and that rapists will walk free.

Gender equality in Rwanda from the grassroots up

Farmers with the fruit trees they have been given by the organisation SDA (Service au Developpement des Association) - Dieter Telemans | Panos Pictures

Women are rebuilding Rwanda from the grassroots to the highest tiers of parliament. Local journalist Didier speaks to grassroots leaders, university academics, schoolgirls and charity leaders to find out what has changed since 1994 and how they see their future.

Mali rebellion stirs fear in rural villages

Armed Tuareg man herding sheep in this remote and insecure area north of Gao - Crispin Hughes | Panos Pictures

As rebel groups in Mali combine to announce an independent Sharia state after the recent Northern coup, Kaidia voices her fears about her future in the south of Mali.

Tunisia’s post-revolution media frustrated by lack of change

At UNESCO’s annual conference to mark World Press Freedom Day - Tim Williams | Panos London

Tim Williams travelled to Tunis to attend UNESCO’s conference marking World Press Freedom Day. He met dissident Bahraini bloggers and young Tunisian journalists, frustrated at the slow pace of change.

Primary schooling in Kenya – a parent’s dilemma

Margret Mukoma helps her daughter Michelle with homework - Adrian Gathu | Panos London

This from-the-ground feature explores the impact of corruption on the education system in Kenya, hearing local perspectives from home, from school and from the NGO sector.

Mexican law aims to halt journalist killings

TV journalist reporting from a crime scene. Ciudad Juarez is the most violent city in Mexico, and the epicentre of the war on drugs. In 2008, 2,000 people were murdered, an average of 5.5 murders a day - Teun Voeten | Panos Pictures

Mexico is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist today. Siobhan talks to Peace Brigades International about the new law to protect human rights defenders and journalists.

Leaders must think of rural people – we are starving

Women from Gwelekoro village processing cereals - Andrew Esiebo | Panos London

Kaidia explains the urgent matters that the new Mali government must attend to – the economy, education and hunger.

Our government has chosen power plants over paddy

Farmers in Janigir Champa who are about to lose their land - Stella Paul | Panos London

Bhan Sahu blogs about a new campaign she is organising, helping those who are being displaced from fertile farmland to make room for 34 thermal power plants.

We must lead Mali toward progress

A Mali woman listens to the radio - Andrew Esiebo | Panos London

Kaidia speaks her mind about the recent coup in Mali and reflects on what these changes could mean for the rural south of the country.

Amazing success for controversial school

In the hallway between classes - Carolyn Drake | Panos Pictures

Maimoona rejoices as every one of the students in her school passes their exams – a rare accomplishment that is boosting their reputation.

‘Mob justice’ follows rape allegation

A rape survivor in the Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre - Sven Torfinn | Panos Pictures

Ambra’s support group is helping a young girl who became the victim of ‘mob justice’ after a Manipur policeman’s suicide put her in the firing line.

Afghanistan’s first and only woman governor

Habiba Sarobi - Aunohita Mojumdar | Panos London

As part of the Breaking Barriers series, we spoke to Habiba Sarobi: Afghanistan’s first and only woman governor.

Meet Mary Madiga – our new Dalit blogger from India

Mary Madiga, a Dalit activist from India - Stella Paul | Panos London

Meet Mary Madiga as the newest contributor to our Voices from the Ground blog. Mary Madiga, 39, is a Dalit social activist in Hyderabad, the capital of Andhra Pradesh state in southern India.

Right to live: a community-led campaign in the making

Two women taking part in the community consultation - Stella Paul | Panos London

When many people are being forced to migrate into cities to find work, Bhan Sahu has been helping rural Indian communities work together to challenge corruption and make the most of government employment schemes in their own villages.

Empowerment radio: voices building a community

Empowerment Radio by Birgitte Jallov

Birgitte Jallov talks about her new book, Empowerment Radio, and the potential for community radio to make a powerful, positive change for communities.

Democracy “is a farce” in Manipur polls

Villagers cast their vote amidst high security in the polling station in Moirang. About 62 percent of the 802,000 registered voters voted in an incident-free second phase of Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament) elections for the Inner Manipur parliamentary constituency on April 22nd 2009 - Sanjit Das | Panos Pictures

The culture of elections in the state is of bribery, corruption and proxy voting. Democracy – which is based on people electing their own representatives – has become a farce of money power and muscle power.

From melon to haircuts, prices rise for Nigerians

Odutuyo Muibat - Sunday Akinlolu | Panos London

Armsfree looks into the link between Nigerian fuel subsidies and the recent food price protests, and speaks with the Nigerians affected by these changes.

The biggest challenge is apathy

Efforts are on to raise awareness among Dalit and tribal people -mostly women - of Kaudikasa to know and cliam their rights - Stella Paul | Panos London

Bhan returns with a blog for us about social change in rural India and how this can come about by claiming ownership over community affairs.

People hope for change as elections approach

Maimoona teaching her class - Rina Saeed Khan | Panos London

We are not as politically aware, we mostly watch Pakistan state TV and there is not too much news on this channel. But even though the people are not following the news avidly, there is uncertainty in the air. And people do want change now.

Reflections on Durban

Panos Caribbean; London and South Africa all represented at the COP.From left to right Indi McLymont- Lafayette; Tim Williams and Vusumuzi Sifile - Tim Williams | Panos London

Tim looks back at CoP17, working with the Climate Change Media Partnership, and offers a critique of the communications process underpinning the conference.

“What women need is economic independence”

Bhan Sahu

In her first blog, Bhan Sahu tells us about rural entrepreneurs in the Indian village of Vihiri, who are taking their futures in their own hands.

Communicating climate change without the clutter

The sheer edge of the Equip Sermia glacier that calves into a fjord within the cluster of islands to the East of the famous Disko Bay. The glacier was photographed from the air on the West Greenland coast - Nick Cobbing | Panos Pictures

Armsfree Ajanaku tries to strip away some of the jargon common to climate change debates. Read the original article with the Climate Change Media Partnership

Pink Sari gang fights injustice

Gang members demonstrate in Banda, Uttar Pradesh - Deepa Jainani | Panos London

Sampat Pal has become an unlikely heroine to tens of thousands of poor women across India as the leader of the Gulabi Gang (“gulabi”, meaning pink in Hindi, refers to the colour of their saris).

A women’s fund in Mali

A note on the wall of a local restaurant in Mali. Women have a hard time getting credit, so housewives have formed an association to provide loans for women - Sven Torfinn | Panos

An association of housewives from Gwelekoro all pay a small amount each week. The money can be given as small loans for women in Mali, where it can be difficult for women to get loans or funding.