Agricultural and rural development depends on provision of economic and social services, such as rural water supply, basic health and education, agricultural extension and land administration. However, the effective and equitable provision of these services is hampered by major governance challenges, such as absenteeism of service providers, elite capture, exclusion of marginalized groups and of women, and the need to pay bribes to access services. IFPRI’s research in this field analyzes the role of governance reforms, such as decentralization, which aim at improving the ability of the rural poor to demand better services and hold service providers accountable and to strengthen the capacity of governance agencies, NGOs and the private sector to provide high quality services. Specific attention is paid to strategies to make agricultural and rural service provision more responsive to the needs of women. Combining quantitative and qualitative methods, research in this field is currently being conducted in Ghana, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kyrgyzstan and Guatemala.