O’Meally, S. C. (2013). Mapping Context for Social Accountability. A Resource Paper. Washington, DC: World Bank
How does context affect interventions for social accountability? This literature review examines six major contextual variables: civil society, political society, inter-elite relations, state-society relations, intra-society relations, and global dimensions. It finds that interventions must ‘think politically’, since accountability failures (and solutions) are often rooted in formal and informal power dynamics. Citizen demand alone is insufficient to drive sustained change: state action is equally important. Social accountability interventions thus need to build links between actors on both ‘sides’ – state and society – and couple ‘soft’ information-sharing with ‘hard’ enforcement interventions.
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Ringold, D., Holla, A., Koziol, M., & Srinivasan, S. (2012). Citizens and Service Delivery. Assessing the Use of Social Accountability Approaches in the Human Development Sectors. Washington, DC: World Bank.
Can citizens hold providers accountable, and do providers respond to citizens’ influence? This report reviews 38 World Bank social accountability projects in health, education and social protection. Obstacles to effective citizens’ action included information asymmetries and requiring individuals rather than groups to act. Isolated accountability mechanisms may be ineffective. For example, citizens need both information and channels to use it. Inequalities and closed political systems are impediments too, whereas strong civil society and media can play a positive role. At the frontline, providers’ incentives shape their responsiveness. The authors recommend that donors specify the fit, interactions and sustainability of mechanisms. Donors should adapt to the services, resources and political economy, and advance transformation through accessibility, inclusiveness, and data availability and quality.
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Shkabatur, J. (2014). Check my school: A case study on Citizens’ Monitoring of the Education Sector in the Philippines. Washington, DC: World Bank Institute.
This paper outlines lessons from the ‘Check My School’ project, which promoted transparency and accountability by engaging citizens in tracking the quality of schools. It combined on-the-ground community monitoring with ICTs. The success of the project is attributed to a number of favourable conditions. A dedicated CSO leader helped tailor the intervention to local socio-political conditions. Rather than adopting an adversarial approach or attempting to expose government faults, the project used a more constructive form of engagement with public officials. Versatility and flexibility in integrating the ICT tools was also important, especially in an environment of low internet penetration. Overall, the project applied a collaborative, problem-solving approach, and was aided by a political context (of decentralisation) that was conducive to citizen monitoring.
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