ACTS Consultancy provides international development consultancy services, with a focus on Africa and South Asia, in the fields of social development and conflict reduction, particularly addressing social inclusion and social policy.

      ACTS Consultancy puts the individual, particularly the poor and marginalised or those with disabilities and women and girls among all these, at the centre of their own development, action and contribution to growth.

      ACTS Consultancy works with developing country governments, civil society and faith groups and regional institutions either directly or in support of development agencies, multilateral, bilateral and non-governmental, including Foundations and multinationals seeking to enhance their corporate social responsibility profile with progressive transformative programmes.

      ACTS Consultancy draws on over 40 years experience with civil society and governments providing people-centred development that recognises and enhances the intrinsic gifts of all, as structural constraints are removed, enabling all to have hope and a future.
  • AfDB & MoFED, Ethiopia
    Analytical study of innovations in provision of basic services
  • UNDP & MoEPD, Malawi
    The State of M&E in Malawi – a report to put M&E in the driving seat of Malawi’s development agenda
  • Liberia – Ebola crisis
    Advising on safe burials with dignity – developing two-way dialogue with communities
  • UNDP-Liberia
    Facilitating county consultations to obtain community perspectives on the global Post-2015 agenda in a fragile state
  • Harmful Traditional Practice
    see report under Gender Transformation
  • UNICEF-Liberia
    Conflict analysis informing design of new Peacebuilding & Education programme
  • African Union
    Africa's Post-2015 Agenda and African Wellbeing Index
  • African Union
    Baseline Study on Harmful Traditional Practices affecting girls and women in Africa
  • UNICEF-Liberia
    The Situation of Children & Women in Liberia – from Conflict to Peace
  • UNICEF-Liberia
    Equity & Inclusion Analysis
  • Liberia
    Child-Adolescent Transitions
  • Liberia
    Community-Based Monitoring
Designed and Developed by Korapat Hollingsworth
   ACTS Consultancy provides international development consultancy services, with a focus on Africa and South Asia, in the fields of social development and conflict reduction, particularly addressing social inclusion and social policy.

      ACTS Consultancy puts the individual, particularly the poor and marginalised or those with disabilities and women and girls among all these, at the centre of their own development, action and contribution to growth.

      ACTS Consultancy works with developing country governments, civil society and faith groups and regional institutions either directly or in support of development agencies, multilateral, bilateral and non-governmental, including Foundations and multinationals seeking to enhance their corporate social responsibility profile with progressive transformative programmes.

      ACTS Consultancy draws on over 40 years experience with civil society and governments providing people-centred development that recognises and enhances the intrinsic gifts of all, as structural constraints are removed, enabling all to have hope and a future.
Dennis Pain is the Principal Social Policy Adviser and the Lead Consultant. He has a depth of experience in people-centred development, working with both governmental and non-governmental organisations at local, national and regional levels. He has a reputation for being a creative thinker and inspiring leader; experienced social sector policy advisor at the macro level, as well as being a practitioner and motivator in UK, India and Africa with a track record of identifying underlying structures of inertia and providing leadership to address these sustainably and to inspire working partnerships for change, particularly for the marginalised and those in conflict-affected areas.

Dennis works in partnership with a range of experienced consultants and consultancy organisations that share his passion for transformation and empowering the poor and marginalised to have opportunity to contribute to and participate in development in all its dimensions. He is able to bring together teams with a range of skills and experience.

David Bassiouni is Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of the Bassiouni Group, based in New York, and an Associate Principal Adviser with ACTS Consultancy. The Bassiouni Group operates through five practice groups – Business Strategy & Development, Integrated Marketing, Crisis Management & Conflict Resolution and Social Responsibility & Sustainable Development. The Bassiouni Group’s client base includes leading international development agencies, governments, global corporations and SMB businesses across multiple sectors, who may be approached directly through David Bassiouni.

David has a broad experience over many years in Public Administration at the most senior levels as a former Government Minister and Director-General for Agriculture and later as UNICEF’s Country Representative in various countries and Chief of UNICEF’s Humanitarian Policy Section and as Chief of OCHA’s Complex Emergency Response Branch (CERB). As a consultant, he has led reviews, evaluation and overarching programme framework planning, such as for UNDP’s post-conflict early recovery work; Somalia’s Joint Needs Assessment; Country UNDAF programmes. He has wide international experience at the highest levels with the leadership in Sudan; Somalia, including as UNICEF Representative and later UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Assistance based in Mogadishu; Ethiopia; Egypt; Occupied Palestinian Territory; Iraq; Bangladesh; Sri Lanka; Liberia; Nigeria; Moldova. He is the recipient of the 2011 Planet African Renaissance Award.

As with all ACTS Consultancy Associates, David Bassiouni may be approached through ACTS Consultancy or direct davidsb[at]bassiounigroup.com See also: www.bassiounigroup.com

Murphy Kajumi is an Associate Senior Adviser with ACTS Consultancy. Murphy has over 15 years experience in the development field, six of which are in monitoring and evaluation, with a particular focus on innovative approaches that involve communities and improve service provider accountability and responsiveness. His earlier work was with Government on M&E systems and for the Malawi Social Action Fund. Murphy uses rights based approaches, including child rights, and results based management, with experience in programme design and management, governance, organisational development and financial management. He has been Team Leader for various reviews and designed programmes for USAID, DFID, World Bank, African Development Bank, UNFPA and NGO projects in Africa and the Caribbean.

As with all ACTS Consultancy Associates, Murphy Kajumi may be approached through ACTS Consultancy or direct mkajumi[at]gmail.com

Alina Meyer is an Associate Senior Adviser with ACTS Consultancy. Alina has a strong academic and development policy background with human rights expertise and an anthropological perspective focusing on gender and youth. She led on producing an ACTS Consultancy report for the African Union on Harmful Traditional Practices affecting girls and women. She has worked on Parliamentary governance oversight and capacity strengthening, led training for national institutions and worked as a policy analyst on human rights, for DFID and the Commonwealth Secretariat in a number of countries in the Caribbean, Africa and South Asia, as well as with the Canadian Foreign Service, CIDA and UNESCO. She has worked on sensitive inter-governmental negotiations.

As with all ACTS Consultancy Associates, Alina Meyer may be approached through ACTS Consultancy or direct alinameyer[at]gmail.com

Margaret Thindwa is an Associate Adviser with ACTS Consultancy. Maggie has experience in development and emergency programming with a focus on education, working with both NGOs and the UN, as well as working on social exclusion issues with children and youth, including refugees, in the UK.

As with all ACTS Consultancy Associates, Margaret Thindwa may be approached through ACTS Consultancy or direct margaretthindwa[at]ymail.com

Jonathan Pain is a new Adviser with ACTS Consultancy. Jonathan draws on his sociological academic training, Military Officer's training and sports coaching to work on conflict and post-conflict issues as well as youth and sport & development issues. He may be approached through ACTS Consultancy.
Good social policy is an essential part of sustainable and inclusive growth and competitiveness in a global economy where investors look to the capability of a country’s human resources and its social stability. Operating within the principle of subsidiarity, it is also essential in any regional integration, in which goods and services, labour and capital are free to move in response to demand. It fulfils four distinct and complementary functions: Reproduction; Production; Redistribution; and Social Protection. Reproduction covers all areas of a society reproducing itself and the quality of its labour force, including its nurture and care at all stages of the life cycle. The production function of social policy is rooted in relations and institutions that manage the engagement of all the factors of production including labour relations in order to maximise productivity and ensure equitable returns for all involved. Redistribution ensures equitable opportunities and outcomes across a state allowing for inclusion in the benefits of growth and emerging opportunities. Social protection is a broad range of policies that enable the poor and vulnerable to escape poverty and manage risks and shocks through improved access to basic services and to a basic income.
Dennis Pain drafted the African Union’s Implementation Strategy for the Social Policy Framework for Africa, which was adopted by Ministers in charge of Social Development in November 2010. He has recently worked with UNICEF-Liberia and Liberia’s Ministry of Planning on the new Poverty Reduction Strategy and UNICEF’s programme of support, which covers key areas of social policy. He brought to the UNICEF Situational Analysis of Women and Children in Liberia a clear focus on equity and inclusion and contributed much of the analysis for a Liberia Equity & Inclusion Agenda publication that will lead into developing an Equity Index monitoring tool. With regional integration, as in Africa’s Regional Economic Communities, as soon as trade, fiscal and labour barriers are reduced, there must be alignment of key social policies, within the principle of subsidiarity, to ensure predictable environments for movements of capital, goods and services, and labour. Failure to do so could prove financially, socially and politically expensive.


Dennis Pain has long been involved in the practice of social policy development in low-income countries, particularly broadening the approach to social protection, as well as in the UK, where he worked on disability, on developing policies and programmes for Asian elderly, on fostering and adoption in Asian communities and on community care of those with psychiatric disorders.


ACTS Consultancy has contributed to the development of the Post-2015 agenda through input on inequality and through papers for the African Union on an African perspective of its post-2015 development priorities and on creating an African Wellbeing Index, as well as facilitating county consultations in Liberia on community perceptions of an agenda relevant to fragile states.
Dennis Pain was the Lead Adviser for the design stage of the Luanda Urban Poverty Programme (LUPP). LUPP’s innovative and committed work by Development Workshop has since influenced urban social policy in Angola and won various accolades. LUPP complements other work by Dennis Pain on low-income urban areas, in UK, Uganda and India.
The experience of powerlessness and marginalisation of inner-city communities is common to the UK and developing countries. Students from the global south on the innovative integrated social work training in Birmingham were taught to analyse and address the structural determinants of poverty by comparing their own country knowledge with the experience of working in inner-city social work and community agencies in Birmingham. Dennis Pain was involved in generating the evidence for, and designing and enabling communities to manage, a range of community organisations, such as a Law Centre, Advice Centres, Adventure Playground and Summer Playschemes, youth clubs and clubs for the elderly and those with disabilities, housing groups backed by representative community structures that could take political action and engage in urban renewal policy or national issues such as leasehold reform or citizenship. The principles of empowerment of the poor are common to all countries.
Programme planning, even in the social sectors, has been dominated by centralised decision-making focusing on inputs and delivery of outputs. Accountability for performance has been mostly upwards to the centre. Experience has shown that this has resulted in delivery being weaker in remote areas and to marginalised communities whose characteristics do not fit national norms. This dynamic can be changed by a focus on reducing disparities between those with the best outcomes and those with the worst, differentiated by location, sex, ethnicity/caste, disability, or other characteristics. This needs to be supported by an increase in accountability downwards to local communities, backed by disaggregation of data that identifies differential outcomes and supported by a degree of decentralisation of decision-making that enables services to respond to context.
To this end, Dennis Pain initiated the concept of Social Equity Auditing for the response to the tsunami in southern India in 2005. Working across a range of NGOs, a steering group invited PRAXIS to develop the methodology. The aim was to assess social equity in analysis of context, programme design, implementation and monitoring, as well as assessing NGO governance in terms of staffing and decision-making, addressing the overall power structures that can lead to the most vulnerable being excluded. The intention was to pilot this in the tsunami NGO response before taking it more broadly into development agenda and international and government agencies. This work is now established under the Social Equity Watch.
The first phase of India’s Reproductive and Child Health (RCH) programme found that improvements in supply of inputs was not matched by outcomes, particularly for “Vulnerable Communities”. In the 2005 design of the $10 billion RCH2, Dennis Pain led in re-focusing the programme on those with the poorest outcomes, requiring states to identify these and develop strategies to address these outcome differentials, supported by flexible funding. This was to be linked to an outcome-based Performance Fund, with no more than three simple indicators, backed by triangulation of data. This re-designing process was also introduced to the national Sarva Shiksha Abhyan “Education-for-All” programme. Both have had significant impact on health and education outcomes for the poorest, essentially Dalits and Adivasis (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) and those with disabilities, particularly girls among them. The changed incentives have created programme design that is responsive to context and local communities.
In Rwanda, after the civil war and genocide, it was an imperatif for reconciliation and future political stability for the Government to introduce community-level participation in determining development priorities and its first Poverty Reduction Strategy. In 1999, Dennis Pain organised a design team to develop such participation at the village cellule level, in which poor people would generate and implement their own solutions [PDF Download]. This resulted in programmes responding to their needs and in improved outcomes for the poor. This reduced their sense of exclusion, vital in creating the conditions in which post-conflict reconciliation can take place
In 2008, Dennis Pain worked with Malawi’s Ministry of Planning and civil society to jointly develop a system of community-based monitoring (CBM) at the lowest administrative units across the country that would be triangulated with sector ministry data and with national survey data. The Government’s plan had been for this triangulation to be public in annual District Statistics Days, which would provide opportunity for accountability and sharing of best practice that has responded to local context in other districts. Over time, government initiatives on CBM became separated from the civil society Kalondolondo CBM programme. In 2014, a team from ACTS Consultancy completed a report for the Ministry of Economic Planning & Development, funded by UNDP, on “The State of M&E in Malawi”, which re-energised interest in a nation-wide community empowerment and use of CBM as an integral part of the national M&E system.
Understanding the political economy of a country is essential for the design of effective social and economic planning. What has worked in one country will need at least modification to be effective in another with different history, interest groups and power relations, capacities and incentives. Dennis Pain and associates are well grounded in such analysis over a period of 40 years, understanding the resolution both democratically and violently of conflicting interests.
As Uganda collapsed into violence, Dennis Pain carried out research on the relationship between the Nubians and the Acholi and their differential incorporation into the state of Uganda, which became the basis for his PhD [.doc Download]. Culturally and economically powerful groups draw weaker communities and individuals into their orbit according to their relationship to land, employment niches, resources and the state. In an attempt to acquire caste-like hegemony, the Nubians in Uganda expelled the Asians and consolidated control over the army and hence the state with its capacity to control resources.
As India’s tension between populist regional parties and national parties triggered the Punjab Akalistan conflict, Dennis undertook a study of Panchayati Raj, the local governance institution that was claimed to provide governance from below, in Punjab, Gujarat and West Bengal. Panchayati Raj offered one model for community councils in the UK. His report [PDF Download], which also formed his M.Soc.Sci., was widely acclaimed as the best analysis of the reality rather than the theory of this compromised attempt at decentralisation.
Later work on the Dalit agenda in India, working with Dalit leadership on strategic approaches to inclusion and social transformation was based on understanding the vested interests that sustained exclusion, maintaining growth that left perhaps 300 million untouched. This requires inclusion of Dalits in administrative and political accountability mechanisms and structures, aided by the analysis that it was their votes that swung the 2004 national elections and have remained critical for any party seeking power.
In Malawi, the introduction of community-based monitoring and accountability has involved a technical process introduced shortly after the 2009 national elections. Electoral cycle timing of the introduction of downward accountability mechanisms soon after an election permits several years of institutionalisation before the process becomes a threat to an incumbent party. This helps to shift elections from patronage to policy debate based on performance and impact. Liberia following the 2011 elections has a similar opportunity to shift towards the politics of policy and performance.
There has been increasing recognition of the role of community bottom-up processes of conflict resolution and reconciliation and what Dennis Pain termed in the late 1990s Track 3 initiatives that complement Track 1 and Track 2 formal and informal processes. The Juba peace talks to end the northern Uganda LRA conflict reflected Dennis Pain’s 1997 report “The Bending of Spears” [.doc Download]. Through the report, Dennis Pain was instrumental in the introduction of the Uganda Amnesty Law and the acceptance of the importance of having the culturally legitimate traditional chiefs anointed and recognised to lead in conflict resolution and reconciliation processes. The four principles of Acholi reconciliation of acknowledgment, remorse, compensation and a public act of reconciliation and their associated processes and symbols have since become internationally respected as best practice. The principles themselves have parallels across Africa – evident from the pan-African conference that Dennis Pain initiated in Addis Ababa on African Principles of Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation, which later influenced the training of UNSG Special Representatives for various African conflicts. They led to dialogue that Dennis Pain led on designing “amnesties without impunity”.

More recently, Jonathan Pain worked with ex-LRA combatants and identified, in A Lost Generation, the problems for reconstruction of a generation of children traumatised by LRA abduction or IDP camp life, who ceased to be children, but with no recognised transition or "rite of passage" to adulthood in a society that has experienced cultural genocide.
Work in Somalia, Angola, Rwanda and Liberia in different ways has shown the need for building sustainable peace from below as well as the need to create an environment, of development and governance, in which peace and reconciliation become possible. This all requires good analysis of context, which can be achieved through Strategic Conflict Assessments. Having proposed such a methodology for Rwanda in 2000 as a prelude to the government of Rwanda carrying out a Strategic Security Sector Reform Assessment, Dennis Pain commissioned 3 related “development assessments” for India, based on the same methodology.
Having seen at the Beijing+15 conference in Banjul in Nov 2009 how patchy was progress on gender equality across the African continent, Dennis Pain organised a Strategic Gender Transformation Workshop in Addis Ababa. This drew selected African feminist leaders from pan-African organisations to discuss approaches to irreversible transformation. As a result the African Women’s Development Fund was tasked with developing a programme. AWDF is developing a methodology for mapping progress and priority actions for each African country, with a comprehensive view of legislation and its implementation and redress mechanisms, access to services and resources, and public and private institutions of discrimination, identifying priorities and sequencing for addressing these. Dennis Pain has in several countries advocated for women to make maternal health a national political issue that could affect election outcomes if not addressed as a priority. This focus on gender is touched on in other pages of this site, in relation to accountability and responsiveness, the refocusing of health and education programmes to address those with poorer outcomes, particularly girls and women.
Focus on gender equality involves not only institutional reform, but also appropriate and accessible services. Detailed analysis of adolescent girls dropping out of school in Malawi showed that the problem was a consequence of the poor quality of early schooling, such that children typically took 7 years to complete a 4-year educational programme and yet two-thirds were still illiterate and innumerate. So by puberty, both girls and boys were likely to have gained nothing from school at which point the girls dropped out of a largely fruitless activity that involved risks to their safety from sexual harassment. Similarly detailed analysis in Liberia shows the large number of children migrating in pursuit of education, which puts them at risk of child labour and, particularly for girls, sexual exploitation.
In a number of countries, girls face cultural initiation that destroys their sense of self-worth and their aspirations, further confirming their subordinate status in national gender power relations. Dennis Pain and Alina Meyer have produced a report, for the African Union through GIZ, with recommendations to address priorities among five categories of traditional practices that are most harmful to girls and women. Complementing work with colleagues in Malawi on initiation, he is also working with traditional and religious leaders in Liberia on transitions from childhood to adolescence, which will address issues of abuse in practice, particularly against girls.
[Harmful Traditional Practices towards Women and Girls in Africa - DOCx Download]
Social inclusion is about enabling all to be equally incorporated into the compact between citizen and state, irrespective of diversity based on ethnicity, caste, location, sex, disability, religion, age or any other identity markers. It means addressing discrimination and inequity in access to rights, assets and services as well as inequality in outcomes, such as health, education, or labour and consumer markets. It involves political and administrative change in legislation and practice, in public and private behaviours and institutional norms, and affirmative action to redress cumulative and inter-generational disadvantages.
The south Asia tsunami just before New Year 2005 resulted in an unprecedented global response. On the coast of south-east Inida the response varied from replacing old unseaworthy trawlers owned by the elite to replacing coastal outboard powered fishing boats and kutamarans for poorer fisher-folk, but neglected the poorest Dalit (Scheduled Caste) and Adivasi (Scheduled Tribe), some of whom lost their lives or all their possessions. With over 1,000 civil society organisations involved in the local response, much of the effort reinforced pre-existing inequalities, supported by failure to analyse social relations and by organisational culture and staffing that reflected social inequalities. Dennis Pain worked with leading NGO activists to develop a new approach to Social Equity Auditing, with a view to participatory monitoring of all response in terms of governance, decision-making and beneficiaries and making this available for all future disaster responses as well as development programming. The resulting methodology and training and advocacy for its use is led by Praxis as Social Equity Watch.
From 2002, Dennis Pain initiated the design for a DFID International-NGO Partnership Agreement working through key UK-based international NGOs and their networks to reach the poorest communities and address a wide range of social exclusion in terms of Dalits and Adivasis, gender, children, disability and those with multiple vulnerabilities reinforcing several domains of exclusion. This was backed by building relationships with leadership of excluded groups, recognising the political economy of exclusion. This work was built on initial rigorous analysis of the processes and results of social exclusion and the resulting poor social indicators of Dalits, Adivasis and Muslims across India and was part of a wider transformation of development analysis and design of programmes that would have impact on those with the poorest outcomes, working with government and civil society and other development partners. Some of this work is described in Christian Aid’s November 2010 submission to the UK Parliament.
Social exclusion is in many places a driver of conflict. In Rwanda, Dennis Pain articulated an approach to creating an environment in which reconciliation becomes possible. Besides poverty reduction in all its aspects, this required inclusion of the poor, particularly Hutu agriculturalists, in government planning and implementation of its poverty reduction strategy. Dennis Pain brought together a team that could enable not only participatory assessment of poverty, but also inclusion in analysing policy priorities and local programming. More recent work in Liberia is addressing similar issues, promoting inclusion and use of community-based monitoring and triangulation of data as one part of designing programmes that are accountable and responsive to local need in remote low-density communities where access to services is minimal. Turning centralised supply-driven services into demand-responsive flexible services that produce equality of outcomes require good political economy analysis of the incentives operating in each country and community. Policy for such change must be backed by good analysis of inequity.
Disability is to a large extent socially defined, with outcomes for those living with identical physical attributes being quite different depending on the social behaviour of others. In Uganda, the Acholi see all physical birth disabilities as being a sign of God’s special intervention and their resulting “fear” of disability results in special affirmative names, inclusion (e.g. in education and marriage prospects) and roles (e.g. resolving disputes). One hundred miles away, different social attitudes to “fear” of disability result in such children being hidden from sight and prevented from accessing education and normal roles in life. Work with the disabled in Uganda led to Action on Disability in Development (ADD), now a global development organisation of people with disabilities, appointing its first worker in 1987. This led to disabled people’s organisations obtaining special rights in the new Constitution and inclusion in Parliament and reframing how they are seen and how they participate in national life. Working on disability issues requires partnership with those living with disabilities and mainstreaming across organisations and programmes. As part of transforming DFID’s approach to inclusion, a Dalit leader and the leader of a disabled persons organisation tracked an employment recruitment process from advertisement, through short-listing and interview, to appointment, highlighting unintended barriers to equality in the process.
Social protection has moved from a narrow perception of cash or in-kind transfers, universal or unconditional or conditional on certain behaviours or public works, to support a basic income for the most vulnerable households. It is now conceived in terms of the right, usually of households, to access a minimum package of basic services and to a minimum income to live a life of dignity, as defined by the African Union’s Social Policy Framework for Africa or the more recent UN Social Protection Floor initiative in response to the food, fuel and financial crises. This allows for a normative approach with each country defining its own affordable minimum package or floor that will be progressively realised and the programmes to achieve this. Social protection systems have been shown to increase country resilience when faced with external shocks and are a recognised part of counter-cyclical stimulus packages as well as part of routine protection against individual and household shocks. There is increasing interest in various forms of social insurance products for the poor and the multiplier effects for the local economy of social grants and the benefit to extended households from pensions as well as links to reduction in fertility.
As team leader for social protection in DFID’s Policy Division when the financial crisis broke, Dennis Pain was responsible for generating the evidence of impact on the poorest and of existing social protection programmes globally that would enable the global development community to reduce the impact of such crises. This was recognised in the London G20 Summit in April 2009, contributing to the UN response and the Global Pulse monitoring of impact. There is now greater agreement between development agencies on the breadth of definition of social protection and safety nets. Dennis Pain’s involvement in OECD DAC meetings, the UN design of the Social Protection Floor, the World Bank review of its Africa SP strategy and also the African Development Bank’s approach to social protection have contributed to increased coherence. He was involved in advising on the African Union’s programme to extend Social Protection to Rural Economy Workers (SPIREWORK).
There is increasing demand for accurate and more real time data to inform policy and improve programme design and efficiency. This has brought increasing interest in randomised control trials for narrowly defined interventions, which can be expensive to run, raise questions of rights, usually dealt with by including the control group in a later phase, and of replication in different circumstances or at scale. Much more could be done with the other medical research model, using development epidemiology to isolate cause and effect of social change. Dennis Pain was involved in the initial ideas behind setting up a UN system Global Watch of real-time data that could enable global leaders see the impact of global crises on the poor, and in advising the IDS participatory study on crisis impact. This work shows the need to integrate qualitative and quantitative data effectively.
Triangulation is a term from surveying and implies use of 3 lines of sight to fix a position, which may itself not be reachable. In development terms, it should refer to the three independent sources of data from: (i) sample surveys or census; (ii) sector management information systems, passed from facility level to the centre; and (iii) community-based monitoring. Simple indicators bringing together these three points of information can provide a sure fix on infant or maternal mortality, morbidity, immunisation, education, water source functionality. Malawi is considering holding annual District Statistics Days bringing together service providers, local organisations, community leaders and elected representatives to consider progress against key indicators and compare progress with other districts. This can help to improve accountability and responsiveness.
Increased disaggregation of key indicators of social outcomes helps show the impact of marginalisation, discrimination and exclusion on reduced life chances for certain categories of people. Brought together in national equity maps that can be regularly updated and made available for all policy makers and elected representatives, this data can help policy and programmes to focus on those who currently have the poorest outcomes. In Malawi, Dennis Pain led the design of indicators for budget support that included targets for reducing inequity in outputs, such as immunisation rates.
With the UK and other European countries introducing indicators of well-being into national statistics, there is increasing interest in this and the new Human Development Index as more meaningful measures of development. The Africa Union is committed in its Social Policy Framework Implementation Strategy to develop an African Wellbeing Index as well as its own targets for development goals beyond 2015.
Civil society has strengths in policy advocacy as well as building capacity at local levels and responsive service delivery appropriate to local context, especially for communities or social categories that differ from national norms. Dennis Pain linked with leading Indian civil society activists to consider how to develop a social transformation agenda beyond advocacy and campaigns. The Poorest Areas Civil Society (PACS) programme achieved significant results through 35,000, including 17,500 new, community-based organisations in the 100 poorest districts, making Panchayati Raj institutions more responsive to the needs of the poor, but in its first phase only slowly moved from service provision to rights. Combining with the International-NGO Partnerships Agreement Programme (IPAP), the current phase of PACS has begun to address structural issues of social exclusion as well as improving access to services by the poorest.



In Malawi, civil society organisations have been entering new partnerships, with traditional authorities (chiefs) and with government and development partners to address gender power relations and issues of accountability by government and service providers to citizens and beneficiaries. Civil society also needs to be accountable and transparent in its operations. Over 35 years, Dennis Pain has worked within the voluntary sector and advised civil society organisations on improving their internal governance, introducing annual audits of governance as well as of financial operations.
CSR has been moving beyond philanthropy and a warm page in the annualreport that satisfies shareholder concern for responsible business. From April 2014, larger Indian companies are required by law to spend 2% of their profits on CSR, but there are fears that this will become tokenistic enforced philanthropy and effectively another tax affecting 6,000 companies and tripling CSR spend. Many companies use CSR to for PR reasons in areas where they operate. For extractive industries this may simply offer a sweetener to undermining the rights of local communities to royalties, which are now required for example by Kenya’s new constitution. ACTS Consultancy drawing on its experience in empowering the poor, offers companies advice on how to make CSR an effective tool for collaboration with local communities.
Moving beyond CSR, many companies have developed inclusive businessmodels that place excluded groups at the centre of their business plan and management. This moves the company from philanthropy to partnership, involving skills training, recruitment, promotion, marketing and business planning that includes, for example, women, ethnic minorities or Dalits (India’s “Scheduled Castes”).
The Niger Delta Partnership Initiative (NDPI) established by Chevron as a non-profit foundation supporting economic development and civil society organisations is an example of taking CSR into new areas of empowerment with a view to reducing conflict in sensitive oil-rich areas. ACTS Consultancy offers advice to companies on how to work as partners in development, such as sharing practical and entrepreneurial skills development for youth. Such partnership can contribute to the ease of doing business in fragile social and political conditions and contribute to value-addition of products in a more dynamic and competitive environment. This advice is linked to operational corporate security assessments that link development investment and analysis of social, political, cultural and religious bases of potential conflict and destabilisation.
Acts Consultancy is committed to support, through mentoring, young professionals and social entrepreneurs in developing their range of skills and ability to link local communities to the national and regional policy level. This will be done through including younger development workers with more experienced workers as research assistants, team members and shadowing opportunities. Anyone interested should send their CV and future plans to dennis-pain[at]acts-consultancy.com

Contact: ACTS Consultancy



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Dennis Pain, Ph.D., M. Soc. Sci. [CV PDF Download]

Creative thinker and inspiring leader; experienced social sector policy advisor, practitioner and trainer in UK, India and Africa with track record of identifying underlying structures of inertia and providing leadership to address these sustainably and to inspire working partnerships for change, particularly for the marginalised and those in conflict-affected areas.

Areas of Expertise:

Political economy of change; performance incentive structures; accountability & responsiveness of service providers; monitoring & evaluation, including community-based monitoring and triangulation; conflict resolution, traditional justice and reconciliation mechanisms; social exclusion; transformation of gender power relations; social policy and social protection system development; leadership training; culture and structure in Africa and South Asia
Dr. David S. Bassiouni Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, The Bassiouni Group [CV DOC Download] [Biography - DOC Download]

Strategic and overall leadership of The Bassiouni Group. The firm helps global organizations to solve complex strategic issues, manage global challenges, seize opportunities and develop sustainable solutions. Led by cross-functional specialists from the Corporate, Political, Diplomatic and International Development sectors, The Bassiouni Group operates through five practice groups – Business Strategy & Development, Integrated Marketing, Crisis Management & Conflict Resolution and Social Responsibility & Sustainable Development. The Bassiouni Group’s client base/client experience includes leading international development agencies, governments, global corporations and SMBs businesses across multiple sectors.
Murphy Kajumi, BSoc, MPS [CV DOCx Download]

Over 15 years of experience in the development field, six of which are in monitoring and evaluation. This experience covers programme design and management, governance, organizational development and financial management.Also served as team leader for various programme reviews and evaluations. Worked for the World Bank funded Malawi Social Action Fund as Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist and the multi-donor funded Joint Program Support for Strengthening Monitoring and Evaluation Systems in Malawi as Deputy National Program Manager, advising on the execution of the National M&E Master Plan.
Alina Meyer [CV DOC Download]

Alina Meyer is an Associate Senior Adviser with ACTS Consultancy. Alina has a strong academic and development policy background with human rights expertise and an anthropological perspective focusing on gender and youth. She led on producing an ACTS Consultancy report for the African Union on Harmful Traditional Practices affecting girls and women. She has worked on Parliamentary governance oversight and capacity strengthening, led training for national institutions and worked as a policy analyst on human rights, for DFID and the Commonwealth Secretariat in a number of countries in the Caribbean, Africa and South Asia, as well as with the Canadian Foreign Service, CIDA and UNESCO. She has worked on sensitive inter-governmental negotiations.
Margaret Thindwa [CV DOC Download]

Margaret Thindwa is an Associate Adviser with ACTS Consultancy. Maggie has experience in development and emergency programming with a focus on education, working with both NGOs and the UN, as well as working on social exclusion issues with children and youth, including refugees, in the UK.
Jonathan Pain [CV PDF Download]

Jonathan Pain is a new Adviser with ACTS Consultancy. Jonathan draws on his sociological academic training, Military Officer's training and sports coaching to work on conflict and post-conflict issues as well as youth and sport & development issues.