What is Social Accountability?

Social Accountability is a process by which ordinary citizens – who are the users of basic public services – voice their needs and demands and create opportunities to hold policy makers and service providers accountable for their performance. The process aims to improve the quality of and access to public basic services.

How does it work?

The Social Accountability process knows five steps: 1) access to information, 2) assessment of services using Social Accountability Tools  3) interface meetings, 4) Joint Action Plan implementation, 5) and monitoring.

Why is Social Accountability important?

Social Accountability is important as it support service users and service providers to interact together and to improve basic servicesthrough constructive dialogues and better use of government and local resources.

Who is involved?

All citizens are involved in Social Accountability through 49 Ethiopian NGO’s(Social Accountability Implementing Partners – SAIPs) who received grants from a $23 million Multi Donor Trust Fund. These SAIPs also work with local organizations to ensure grass root level activities. Together they will make sure that vulnerable groups such as the elderly, people living with HIV, women, and people with disabilities are especially targeted during the Social Accountability process.

Where do we work?

The 49 SAIP’s and their partner organizations are actively involved in over 232woredas in every region of Ethiopia.

Which donors are involved?

The World Bank facilitates the Multi Donor Trust Fund on behalf of the Federal Government of Ethiopia. The donors are Irish Aid, Germany-KFW, DFID (Department of International Development), and the European Union.

When are the projects running?

Social Accountability projects started in 2013 and will continue till end September 2015. This is the second phase of Social Accountability in Ethiopia; a successful pilot project was completed in 2006; a next phase is already under consideration.

Where can I find more information?

Next to exploring this website, you can subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on social media. We have a Facebook page with 4200 likes and counting, and we are on Twitter. We have a YouTube channel with 70 short clips from stakeholders all over Ethiopia, and more in the making. Our pictures are on Flicker.

More about Social Accountability

·    The Social Accountability process

·    Social Accountability Tools and other resources

·    Local sustainability factors

·    Results of Social Accountability

·    Cases of Social Accountability



The Social Accountability process

Step 1: Access to information

The Social Accountability process starts with access to information about services standards, plan targets and budgets. SAIPs make sure that citizens have the confidence and build the relationships that help them to ask for such information.

Step 2: Assessment with SA tools

Based on this information citizens can assess the service situation, namely their experience with access and quality of the services compared to the standard/plan/budget. SAIPs enable the Social Accountability Committee to use Social Accountability tools, so that service users can assess the service situation from various perspectives. For example, vulnerable groups may have different needs.

Step 3: Interface meeting

When the assessment is complete, interface meetings are organized by SAIPS to facilitate dialogue with providers about the service issues, and to identify and agree among all stakeholders on local solutions.

Step 4: Joint Action Plan Implementation

A Joint Action Plan is implanted as agreed between citizens, service providers and woreda officials during the kebele or woreda level interface meetings.

Step 5: Monitoring service improvements

The Social Accountability Committee monitors the improvements and when required, starts the Social Accountability process again.


Social Accountability Tools

Five different tools are used to implement Social Accountability projects all over Ethiopia. These tools help to assess the quality of service delivery, and to monitor and evaluate a service improvement agenda as agreed between citizens and service providers in the interface meeting.

The most used Social Accountability tools are:

1)   Community Score Card

2)   Citizens Report Card

3)   Participatory Planning and Budgeting

4)  Public Expenditure Tracking Survey

5)   Gender Responsive Budgeting

Community Score Card is a tool used by community members to evaluate their access to basic services and the quality of service they receive. It also includes a self-assessment of service delivery and performance by service providers. Access, quality and equity of basic service delivery are assessed using community developed performance indicators assisted by the grantees.

Citizens’ Report Cards are surveys that collect service users’ opinions on the performance of public service delivery. The opinions of different social and vulnerable groups are gathered to enable equitable service delivery.

Participatory Planning and Budgeting supports the direct participation of citizens and citizens groups in the budget formulation process of the Woreda, to influence the amount and priorities of budgets allocated to basic service delivery. Another approach to participatory budgeting is when the community suggests alternative budgets to influence budget formulation by expressing citizen preferences.

Public Expenditure Tracking Survey is a means to assess if the allocated budget for the provision of public services is actually spent as intended, to deliver quality services. By studying the transfer and use of funds and in kind resources, the Public Expenditure Tracking Survey provides a rigourous basis for citizens and citizen groups to engage in a dialogue with service providers and local government to improve budget execution for enhanced service delivery.

Gender Responsive Budgeting is a means of integrating a gender dimension into all steps of the budget process. This ensures that budget policies can take into consideration the gender dimension in society and can stop direct and indirect discrimination against either women or men. It is about taking into account the different needs and priorities of both women and men without gender exclusivity. Gender Responsive Budgeting ensures that budgets are gender sensitive, not gender neutral.

Other resources


Local sustainability factors

Citizens and their groups:

·    Citizens who care for the wellbeing of all social and vulnerable groups have been mobilised and are motivated to lead the Social Accountability process

·    All citizens understand that public services are for the people, and they have been motivated to take appropriate action if service are below expectations

·    Community based organisations, and traditional structures enable broad based participation of citizens in the Social Accountability process

 Service providers and government structures:

·    Service providers make it part of their duty to ask for opinions and citizens about services, and respond to issues raised by citizens

·    Government structures like PFM/FTA, Parent Teacher Associations, health management boards, water boards embrace Social Accountability

Kebele and Woreda Council:

·    Council members welcome Social Accountability, because it is a good way for them to monitor the execution of government plans and budgets

·    Women’s Affairs play an active role to promote gender mainstreaming in the Social Accountability process, and to keep gender sensitivity of public services on the agenda of the council

Social Accountability expertise:

·    Citizens and Service providers who serve on the Social Accountability Committee (SAC) have the technical capacity to lead the Social Accountability process

·    The SAC has a plan in place that explains how Social Accountability will continue after project end. The plan explains how to reach out to more Kebeles and how to begin Social Accountability in other basic service sectors. Where appropriate, a resource mobilisation strategy is part of this plan.

·    SAIPs organise to make Social Accountability expertise available where needed.

Activities at facility level:

·    SA school clubs

·    PTA can use SA tools

·    Suggestion box at the health center

·    SA day for all water points, or rural roads

·    SA during agriculture extension meetings


Results of Social Accountability

Achievements of the social accountability program in recent months:

·    Distributed $8,413,387.31 to 49 SAIPs (by August 2014)

·    41,000 citizens have been supported to make their own choices and holding decision makers accountable

·    6,500 service providers have been trained on Social Accountability

·    12,000 citizens citizen groups have been trained

·    80 woredas held service assessments and interface meetings, and are now implementing Joint Action Plans for service improvement

·    We are informing citizens and SA professionals about our progress through our quarterly newsletter

·    Citizens are being taken serious by government officials, including the State Minister of Finance and Economic Development, who chairs ESAP2.

·    70 participatory videoswhere stakeholders from all over Ethiopia share their experience with Social Accountability



Examples of improved services thanks to social accountability


·    Improved availability of drugs at fair prices


·    Better behavior of health workers, and less waiting time


·    Immediate ambulance response saves lives of pregnant women


·    Additional classrooms built


·    More school budget allocated

·    Additional teachers recruited as per the budget


·    Timely distribution of fertilizers


·    The right improved seeds are distributed on time

Water and sanitation

·    Repair of dysfunctional water points and construction of new points

Rural roads

·    Maintenance of roads and new road construction


·    Resolution of land disputes



Case studies of Social Accountability

Joint Action Plan bears fruits in Gamebela

In Itage Woreda of Gambella Region, after a series of discussions among the service providers and service users, they started the implementation of a Joint Action Plan which includes a number of activities that improve the service delivery in the water sector. The community and the service providers constructed two new water points. The community has contributed labor to dig the well and avail all the necessary material while the service providers covered the cost of fittings and installation for the water points. Moreover, the community has fenced the existing water points to protect it from children who waste the clean water when playing around it.

Private sector joins hands to improve roads

The Social Accountability Committee (SAC)in AmibaraWoreda in Afar region, developed their action plan. The committee identified problems related to rural roads in their Woreda. The committee members facilitated a discussion with Woreda officials, the rural roads desk and private investors on how to improve road access in their area. The Amibara Mechanized Agriculture farm Plc. welcomed their requests. The company mobilized its machineries, allocated budget for it and collaborated with community members to maintain the roads.

Community action saves school

Isid Primary School is the only school for 360 students from six villages in the Benishangul region. Last season, the school faced a big challenge as heavy rains demolished some of the classrooms. Then the community held discussions on their needs thanks to the Social Accountability sensitization activities. Instead of expecting only the government to address all their problems, the community realized their obligation. They mobilized everyone in the community. Some brought timber, others grass and others helped with free labor.

Community action saves public resources

Community members of JidaJiruwereda, Oromia region prevented a private firm from constructing toilets with low quality materials in a local school. The Parent Teacher Association and the Social Accountability Committee met with elders and local administration officials to discuss the issues and to reach consensus on the appropriate action to take. The service users felt that the consequences of a poorly constructed toilet would affect the quality of the children’s education and health. When the private firm requested to approve the payment, the community groups refused and the health office was forced to establish a team of people from different responsible organs for inquiry. The inquiry commission discussed their investigation with the different community groups and concluded unanimously that the concerns of the community were legitimate. The local administration now has been told to take the required action to solve this problem.

Interested in more results and case studies?

·    Read stakeholder experiences in Stakeholders Explain Social Accountability .

·    Watch stories from stakeholders in Social Accountability on our YouTube Channel.