Initial Results of Social Accountability Commended at JRIS/JBAR

The Management Agency (MA) presented a report on the progress of Social Accountability (SA) at the 10th Joint Review and Implementation Support (JRIS) and Joint Budget and Aid Review (JBAR) PBS review session organized from 12-14 May, 2014 at the Ghion Hotel in Addis Ababa. This bi-annual PBS progress review session brings together participants from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED) and the regional Bureaus sector offices, and councils, as well as development partners and civil society organizations.

The ESAP2 presentation started with screening a participatory video which featured a community dialogue on how the quality of services improved through social accountability. The video was presented by one of the Social Accountability Implementing Partners (SAIPS) Redeem the Generation (RtG).

Participants reflected on the video and discussed social accountability experience in their respective regions. One of the group members from Tigray said, “We are in the process of implementing the second phase of SA after finalizing the evaluation of the first one. This further strengthens accountability among service providers. It also helps to consolidate the government efforts in good governance with regards to health, education and other sectors. There are commitment issues observed among service providers in our region and the concept of SA is being used to resolve this problem and also enhance the community’s awareness about the matter.”

 A group of development partners said, “SA is a concept that addresses the demand of people and helps them to hold service providers accountable. However, the video that was screened earlier has shown that people hold themselves accountable in the process as well. On one side this is a positive development and encourages people to be responsible while on the flip side we are afraid that it diverts our focus from the service providers.”

Following the discussion that was triggered by the video, the Team Leader of ESAP2 Rolf Hunink presented MA progress results. He said,

“About the output … that is what counts in the very end… the citizens who have been supported to make their own choices and who will make the decision makers accountable for the services. We managed to achieve a target of 41,000 which is even beyond the end line figure which has been set from the very beginning. So I think this is a very promising number that we have achieved. On the other three, the training of service providers, you see that we are on track. We have around 6,500 providers trained out of the around 10,000s which have been set for the end line. Citizens and citizen groups, 12,000 out of 17,000 have been trained, and the last group the citizens’ sensitization, we have managed to reach over 70,000 of these citizens… There was not a final end line figure set for that, but we are trying to achieve in as many as possible citizens to be involved in this SA activity.”

The meeting further deliberated on scaling up and making SA sustainable in the country. The most meaningful suggestion was given by the chair of the session, the State Minister of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED), Dr. Abraham who said, “If we see SA as part and parcel of our good governance program, as an instrument to enhance good governance in cities and Woredas,… the probability of the program being sustained is very high. It will become institutionalized and mainstreamed in our plans, in our strategies…another possible mechanism…is to strengthen the available structures…we have so many committees and so many groups…we can institutionalize the tools of SA into these structures… every Woreda, every city organizes public forums. They present their plans and budgets and then they review progress, quarterly or at least in six months. We should use these platforms instead of investing on parallel institutions. I am not excluding any additional structures but starting with the available structures is cost effective and it improves the probability of sustaining the intervention. So spreading the message about SA using civil society organizations, the SA committees, spreading good practices that we are documenting as we go using different mediums. So we can popularize SA as a good governance instrument. But we have to keep the discussion going on so that we come up with more concrete strategies to institutionalize and sustain SA.”

In his concluding remarks, Dr. Abraham Tekeste said, “For me, the initial results are very encouraging from the presentation I saw in terms of awareness creation, in terms of motivation of citizens and commitment of citizens to work very closely with local authorities. The commitment of service providers and local authorities, these are all important results, initial results…services have improved, the community is contributing to improve the services, construction of facilities, the government also bringing additional resources, SA unlocking also local potentials.”