In an effort to reduce poverty and enhance decentralized public service delivery to the poor, the Government of Ethiopia, with the support of International Development Partners, embarked on a project known as the Protection of Basic Social Services in 2006. The PBS program piloted a social accountability initiative in 2006 that helped empower citizens to voice their needs and demands relating to basic public services.

In the context of PBS, Social Accountability can be understood as the processes by which ordinary citizens, who are the users of public services, voice their needs, preferences and demands regarding public services; it also brings citizens into dialogue with local governments and service providers to contribute to improved quality public basic services through joint action plans.

The Ethiopian Social Accountability Program 1 aimed to empower Ethiopia’s poor so that they may voice their concerns and priorities over access to basic services – water, sanitation, health, education and agriculture. ESAP1 ended on June 30, 2009, and an independent evaluation was conducted as basis for a new phase. The evaluation revealed that use of appropriate social accountability mechanisms can work in Ethiopia and have beneficial outcomes for the actors involved as well as for the quality of basic services.

As a component of PBS 2, the government launched the Ethiopia Social Accountability Program 2 (ESAP2) on February 14 2012 in Addis Ababa in the presence of Civil Society Organizations, service providers, donor community, federal government representatives, woreda administrators and academicians.

Working through civil society organizations, ESAP2 will bring local governments and service providers into dialogue with citizens and community organizations as an important step in working together in providing better quality public basic services.