A gateway for capacity developmentISSUE 31 | AUGUST 2007FEATUREUsing accountability relationships tosupport capacityThomas Theisohn makes the casethat effective accountabilitymechanisms induce public sectororganisations to remain responsiveto the people’s needs.AccountabilityINTERVIEWPromoting mutual accountabilityHeinz Greijn interviews H.E.Chhieng Yanara on Cambodia’sAid Effectiveness Report and thegovernment’s aid coordinationactivitiesPOLICYCan civil society have an impact?Paolo de Renzio and WarrenKrafchik review the work of civilsociety organisations to monitorand influence government budgetpolicies and expendituresTOOLS & METHODSCitizen report cards score in IndiaSamuel Paul and GopakumarThampi describe how civil societymonitoring in Bangalore hasimproved the quality andcost-effectiveness of public servicesPRACTICESupporting communities to speak outEmmanuel Kallonga, Philip Connellyand Kees de Graaf examineTanzania’s experiment in trackingpublic expenditures to increasepublic service accountability
FEATUREwell as local Human Development Reports,for instance, can be a way of democratisinginformation on actions and progress incritical social areas.4. Regular monitoring and controlIn modern democracies, a host ofmechanisms institutionalise monitoringand control. For example, certain entities,such as the Auditor General or anindependent electoral commission areentrusted with a constitutional mandate tohold other state agencies to account – thusindirectly acting on behalf of the people.Such mechanisms and entities can monitoraccountability relations over time. Insimilar ways individual organisationsevaluate their operations, and projects areusually monitored at regular intervals tomake adjustments and improve onweaknesses.5. Improved access to recourse andarbitrationAccess to justice, in particular for poorpeople, is not a given in many societies.Even where these rights exist and whereinstitutions are in place, they may be biasedtoward the interests of elite groups. NGOshave successfully used court action toassert their rights, and of courts consciouslypromoting the interests of the weakest andmost vulnerable. The institution of theOmbudsman has been established in manycountries as a more or less independentbody that investigates grievances of citizensand seeks to broker solutions or anequitable settlement. A range of alternativedispute resolution mechanisms that providearbitration outside the formal courts ofjustice are other examples.6. Accountability loops closer to the peopleWhen users of services have a realopportunity to influence public policy andservices, they are more likely to articulatetheir demands. Decentralisation does notnecessarily ensure that the servicesprovided by local authorities are effective,appropriate and accountable. However,strengthening the lines of communicationbetween citizens and local governmentstructures is often effective in improvingdirect accountability and the performanceof local service providers.7. Opening channels and arenas forparticipationThis approach focuses on the institutionalchannels and arenas through which citizenscan shape decision-making processes.Participatory mechanisms take various forms,including public consultation mechanisms andpublic hearings, village assemblies,consultations on project options, or internetforums. Participatory planning, budgeting andevaluations are mechanisms that have beensuccessfully used to increase the ‘voice’ ofcitizens. Social audits are also beingincreasingly used to ensure accountability.However, consultation fatigue has become acommon phenomenon and care needs to betaken to ensure that those consulted perceivetheir invitation to participate as being of realbenefit to them.8. Voice and the ability to articulateThe approaches listed so far emphasisestructural changes and the opening ofopportunities by changing elements in theaccountability relationship. This eighthapproach directly aims at strengthening theability of rights holders, and in particular poorpeople and their advocates, to speak out, toorganise, to know their rights and to claimthem. Civil society organisations tend to workclosely with local stakeholders and are moreintimately aware of the constraints people facein voicing their needs and in participating inpolicy processes. Access to quality education,campaigns to raise awareness, support forlocal leadership development or otherapproaches to strengthen self-esteem andconfidence can be part of strengthening thearticulation of demand.Thinking out of the boxThe above has been an attempt to showdifferent entry points to strengthening thecapacity of a social system to functioneffectively by bolstering its accountabilitystructures. An investment in accountability canmaintain the ‘health’ of a system, reinforceownership and legitimacy, and is a seed for thedevelopment of sustainable capacities at alllevels of society. The following questionssummarise dimensions that practitioners maywant to consider as options in the context ofthe specific challenges they face:Jocelyn Carlin/HH1. Which ground rules of engagement areconducive to capacity development and arepossible at a given point in time?2. Which measures can increase transparencyand access to information?3. How can one establish facts and broadenevidence as an impartial basis for collectiveaction?4. Should regular monitoring andaccountability mechanisms beinstitutionalised?5. How can formal and informal access torecourse and arbitration be improved?6. Which accountability loops could be movedcloser to local people?7. What communication/participationchannels could be opened?8. How can one support the capacity ofpeople and community-based organisations toarticulate their needs and claim their rights?Accountability relationships and capacitydevelopment are about roles andresponsibilities and most of the aboveapproaches are bound to question power andvested interests. Resistance must therefore beanticipated. On the other hand,accountability, evidence, transparency andvoice belong to the instruments of goodgovernance and the argument for promotingthem is in principle compelling and difficultto refute. It may take creativity to movetowards concrete measures. Yet, applyingaccountability as a capacity developmentstrategy can change dynamics and lead toprofound changes in rules, attitudes,behaviour and a society’s ability to manageits own affairs.
Public spending: holding governments accountableCan civil society have an impact?POLICYTen years ago a small number of civil society organisationsbegan experimenting with methods to monitor and influencegovernment budget policies and expenditures. Have theseinitiatives had an impact?In a number of developing countries civilsociety groups have initiated advocacyactivities aimed at analysing and influencingpublic revenues and spending. Such groupsinclude development NGOs, social movementsand research organisations. Their activitiesrange from training, technical analysis ofbudget documents and expenditure andrevenue tracking, to building advocacynetworks and organising campaigns.The International Budget Project is aninitiative of the Centre on Budget and PolicyPriorities, an independent research andadvocacy organisation based in the UnitedStates. The IBP, together with the Institute forDevelopment Studies at the University ofSussex, recently undertook a study oforganisations in Brazil, Croatia, India, Mexico,South Africa and Uganda that have beenengaged in such budget advocacy work for atleast five years. These case studies provideexamples which show that civil societyorganisations can have a significant impacton budget accountability, for instanceincreasing budget transparency, publicawareness of budget issues and publicengagement with budget processes. Thisadvocacy work can also affect budget policiesthrough improvements in budget decisionmakingprocesses and shifts in budgetallocations.Examples of impactSeveral civil society groups found inventiveways to access budget information, such asthrough opposition parliamentarians (in India)or by using freedom of information laws (inMexico). They produced citizens’ budgetguides and analytical reports which werewidely disseminated. Their documentationwas enthusiastically received by otherorganisations, legislatures and the media, whothen joined the lobby process for budgetpolicy change. Groups in South Africa andBrazil used training modules and onlinedistance education courses to increaseawareness of government accountabilityissues.In some cases, budget advocacy work hada direct impact on improving pro-poor budgetallocations. In South Africa, budget lobbygroups managed to push for substantialchanges in government policies on childbenefits. In Uganda, the groups sought totackle corruption and inefficiencies in publicspending by training community-basedmonitors to check the quality of local servicedelivery.Establishing relationshipsThere are a number of constraints which limitthe impact that civil society groups can haveon government budget processes. Theopenness of the political environment, thenature of the budget process, the stability ofnational legal and institutional frameworks,and the level of literacy of the population willaffect the potential influence of budgetanalysis groups. Other factors are internal tothe civil society organisation itself. Forexample, the organisation’s structure, and thestrength of its leadership, communicationstrategies and technical capacity influence theorganisation’s effectiveness.A key indicator of success is the ability ofadvocacy groups to establish relationshipswith others from civil society and the mediato the executive and legislative arms ofgovernment as well as donors. It is throughthese relationships that coalitions are built,information is passed, influence is exercised,and ultimately impact is achieved.LessonsThe variety of experiences brought together inthe comparative study shows that budget lobbywork can be used successfully by a variety oforganisations, from policy think tanks to socialmovements and community-based networks.There are some inherent limitations to successfuladvocacy work that are linked to the nature ofthe budgetary process itself and to the level ofnational budget-related literacy. The greatestinternal challenges faced by budget groups aretheir ability to build and retain trained staff, andto ensure effective leadership.In terms of impact, the organisations in thecase studies were most often successful inincreasing transparency and civil societyengagement in government budget processes. Insome cases, structural changes in budgetdecision-making procedures and policies werealso achieved through a longer-term strategyand commitment. The basis of effective budgetwork is analysis which is accurate (to ensurecredibility), accessible (to guarantee a wideaudience), and timely (taking into account thebudget cycle).Paolo de Renziop.email@example.comResearch Associate, Overseas Development Institute,London, UKWarren Krafchikkrafchik@cbpp.orgDirector, International Budget Project, Washington, USAToday, the staff at the International BudgetProject is aware that organisations in over 60countries have initiated projects that aim toensure that public resources are usedeffectively for the public good. A continuedreview of civil society’s engagement withbudget advocacy will provide an essentialcontribution to global learning in thisnew field.
Aid coordination in CambodiaPromoting mutual accountabilityINTERVIEWOver the last five years, the government of Cambodia hasstrengthened its national aid coordination process. Weinterviewed H.E. Chhieng Yanara on the first AidEffectiveness Report which reviewed the process to date.His Excellency Chhieng Yanara has been Secretary-General of the Cambodian Rehabilitation andDevelopment Board (CRDB), which manages the publicinvestment affairs of the Council for the Development ofCambodia (CDC), since its inception in 1994.Prior to joining CRDB, H.E. Yanara was Director-Generalat the Ministry of Planning, where he was responsible forformulating and monitoring the annual and five-yeardevelopment plans.H.E. Yanara was awarded a PhD in economic planningfrom the University of Economics in Hanoi. He is amember of the government’s Supreme National EconomicCouncil (SNEC) and serves on the boards of directors ofseveral public bodies.In the Paris Declaration of 2005, a largenumber of countries and multilateraldevelopment organisations committedthemselves to improving aid effectiveness.One of the key principles in this process isthe idea of ‘mutual accountability’ whichemphasises the shared responsibilities fornational development goals. In this sense,donors are accountable to developingnations, just as these countries areaccountable to the donors.The Cambodian Rehabilitation andDevelopment Board (CRDB) serves as thegovernment’s aid coordination focalpoint. It manages relations betweengovernment and its development partnersas well as taking responsibility for leadingnational efforts to implement the ParisDeclaration. His Excellency ChhiengYanara is the Secretary-General of theBoard. He led the process of preparingthe Aid Effectiveness Report which waspresented to the first meeting of theCambodia Development CooperationForum (CDCF) in June 2007. The AidEffectiveness Report is the first studyto make substantial use of empiricalevidence and data to improve aideffectiveness using a mutualaccountability approach.Your Excellency Yanara, what are thecurrent challenges to achieving moreeffective aid coordination in Cambodia?The Aid Effectiveness Report shows thatCambodia has a highly fragmented aidenvironment; most of the more than 30development partners provide roughly equalcontributions to our aid budget. In such anenvironment, many development partnersare inclined to participate closely in thedecision-making process and to join thepolicy dialogue. This results in complexdecision-making processes and raises thecosts of coordination.A related problem is that many of ourdevelopment partners disburse their supportacross a wide range of sectors and projects.In some sectors, including education, health,rural development, water and sanitation, andagriculture the number of partners causes aformidable coordination challenge.A particularly adverse effect of thisfragmentation is the stripping of localcapacity. Each development partner seeks toestablish its own expertise in each sector inwhich it has a presence, resulting in ‘donorcompetition’ for national resources. Forexample, government employees focus onthe donor’s project rather than on theoverall national programme, or they leavetheir jobs for more attractive contracts withdonors.What new structures did the governmentof Cambodia implement to improve aidcoordination as a result of the ParisDeclaration of 2005?We set up the Cambodia DevelopmentCooperation Forum (CDCF) which ismanaged and chaired solely by thegovernment. It replaces the ConsultativeGroup structure, which was co-chaired bythe World Bank. These changes put theCambodian government in a strongerposition to exert ownership and leadership.The CDCF has made it easier to focus on howaid could be made more effective in supportof the National Strategic Development Plan.For instance, the Aid Effectiveness Reporthighlights the sectors in which the burden ofmanaging development assistance may bemost likely to distract attentions fromachieving the strategic objectives set by theCambodian government.Under the umbrella of the CDCF, we havecooperation mechanisms at two levels:• The technical working groups (TWGs)facilitate dialogue on sector and thematicissues, chiefly on a technical level and witha focus on resource allocation,implementation and monitoring. Each TWGis chaired by a senior government officialand is co-facilitated by a developmentpartner representative. For example, theTWG on health is chaired by the Secretary ofState of the Ministry of Health, and is cofacilitatedby World Health Organization.The Cambodian Ministry of Economy andFinance is involved at the TWG level forbudgeting purposes.• The Government-Development PartnerCoordination Committee (GDCC) meets threetimes a year. It is chaired by the Minister ofEconomy and Finance and First ViceChairman of the Council for theDevelopment of Cambodia (CDC). Thecommittee addresses higher-level issuesoften related to cross-sector reforms andgovernance.How has this structure enabled yourgovernment to address the issue of mutualaccountability between the donorcommunity and the Cambodian publicsector?The concept of mutual accountabilityincluded in the Paris Declaration is restrictedto transparency in resource use and thearticulation of the roles and responsibilitiesof development partners, partner countriesand their parliaments. There is, however, afar greater potential for mutualaccountability that extends beyondinformation sharing and assessing progress.Mutual accountability provides an objectivebasis for more open dialogue, increasedThe Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness,endorsed on 2 March 2005, is aninternational agreement signed by over onehundred ministers, heads of agencies andother senior officials. they committed theircountries and organisations to increaseefforts to harmonise, align and manage aidand to monitor the results using transparentindicators. Capacity.org Issue 31 | August 2007
Monitoring public service deliveryCitizen report cards score in IndiaTOOLS AND METHODSAfter more than a decade of monitoring by civil societyorganisations, the city of Bangalore in Southern India hasachieved real progress in improving the quality and costeffectivenessof its public services.Samuel Paulsamuelpaul@mac.comChairperson, Public Affairs Centre, Bangalore, IndiaGopakumar K. Thampigopathampi@gmail.comExecutive Director, Public Affairs Centre,Bangalore, IndiaUser feedback is a cost-effective way for agovernment to find out whether itsservices are reaching the people, especiallythe poor. Users of a public service can tell thegovernment a lot about the quality and valueof a service. Strangely enough, this is not amethod that is known to, or used by, mostdeveloping country governments. Thecontinuing neglect of the quality of services isin part a consequence of this fact.In sharp contrast, there is an active practiceof seeking customer feedback in the businessworld, or at least among those who produceand sell goods in the competitive marketplace. The ‘take it or leave it’ attitude onecomes across—especially at the lower levels ofthe public service delivery bureaucracy—is nodoubt due to the fact that government is thesole supplier of most essential services. Butthe disinterest among the higher levels ofpolitical and bureaucratic leadership inseeking public feedback on the quality andresponsiveness of service providers reinforcesthis tendency.What is a citizen report card?When a government is indifferent, theinitiative for change must come from civilsociety. Citizens who elect and pay forgovernments cannot and should not remainquiet when essential services are in disarrayand public accountability is lacking. It wasagainst this background that the citizen reportcard (CRC) on public services in Bangalore,Southern India, was launched in 1994. TheCRC represents an assessment of the city’spublic services from the perspective of itscitizens. The latter are the users of theseservices and can provide useful feedback onthe quality, efficiency, and adequacy of theservices and the problems they face in theirinteractions with service providers. Whenthere are different service providers, it ispossible to compare their ratings acrossservices. The resultant pattern of ratings(based on user satisfaction) is then convertedinto a ‘report card’ on the city’s services.A citizen report card on public services isnot just one more opinion poll. Report cardsreflect the actual experiences of people with awide range of public services. The survey onwhich a report card is based covers only thoseindividuals who have had experiences in theuse of specific services, and interactions withthe relevant public agencies. Users possessfairly accurate information, for example, onwhether a public agency actually solved theirproblems or whether they had to pay bribes toofficials. Of course, errors of recall cannot beruled out, but the large numbers of responsesthat sample surveys generate lend credibilityto the findings.Stratified random sample surveys usingwell-structured questionnaires are the basison which report cards are prepared. It isgenerally assumed that people from similarbackgrounds in terms of education, culture,and so forth, are likely to use comparablestandards in their assessments. But thesestandards may be higher for higher incomegroups than for the poor whose expectationsof public services tend to be much lower.Villagers can now provide feedback on the quality of public services.Dividing households into relativelyhomogeneous categories is one way tominimise the biases that differing standardscan cause.The Bangalore experimentThe Public Affairs Centre (PAC) in Bangalorehas done pioneering work on CRCs over thepast decade. The first report card on publicagencies in 1994 covered municipal services,water supply, electricity, telecommunicationsand transport. Since then, PAC has broughtout report cards on several other cities andrural areas, and also on social services such ashealth care. But since it has tracked servicesfor a longer period in Bangalore, we shallrefer only to this experiment.The findings of this first CRC on Bangalorewere most striking. Almost all the publicservice providers received low ratings fromthe people. Agencies were rated and comparedin terms of public satisfaction, corruption andresponsiveness. The media publicity that thesefindings received, and the public discussionsthat followed, brought the issue of publicservices out in the open. Civil society groupsbegan to organise themselves to voice theirdemands for better performance. Some of thepublic agencies responded to these demandsand took steps to improve their services. ThePanos Pictures/HH10 Capacity.org Issue 31 | August 2007
TOOLS AND METHODSinter-agency comparisons and the associatedpublic glare seem to have contributed to thisoutcome. When the second report card onBangalore came out in 1999, theseimprovements were reflected in the somewhatbetter ratings that the agencies received. Still,several agencies remained indifferent andcorruption levels continued to be high.The third CRC on Bangalore, in 2003,showed a surprising turnaround in the city’sservices. It noted a remarkable rise in thecitizen ratings of almost all the agencies. Notonly did public satisfaction improve acrossthe board, but the incidence of problems andcorruption seem to have declined perceptiblyin the routine transactions between the publicand the agencies. It is clear that more decisivesteps had been taken by the agencies toimprove services between 1999 and 2003.LessonsWhat accounts for this distinct turnaround inBangalore’s public services? And what lessonscan we learn from this experiment? Needlessto say, without deliberate interventions by thegovernment and the service providers, noimprovement would have taken place in theservices. But the key question is what madethem act? A whole complex of factors seemsto have been at work. The new Chief Ministerwho took over in 1999 was very concernedabout the public dissatisfaction with the city’sservices. He set in motion new mechanismssuch as the Bangalore Agenda Task Force, aforum for public-private partnerships thathelped energise the agencies and assist in theupgrading of the services. The civil societygroups and the media supported andmonitored these efforts. It is significant thatthe initial trigger for these actions camelargely from the civil society citizen reportcards initiative.What are the preconditions for such civilsociety initiatives to work? It is obvious thatthese initiatives are more likely to succeed ina democratic and open society. Withoutadequate space for participation, CRCs areunlikely to make an impact. A tradition ofcivil society activism would also help. Peopleshould be willing to organise themselves toengage in advocacy and seek reformssupported by credible information. Politicaland bureaucratic leaders must have the willand resources to respond to such informationand the call for improved governance by thepeople.The credibility of those who craft CRCs isequally important. The initiators of theexercise should be seen as non-partisan andindependent. They need to maintain highprofessional standards. The conduct of thesurvey and the interpretation of the findingsshould be done with utmost professionalintegrity. A report card does not end with thesurvey and its publication. Much of theadvocacy work that follows will draw uponthe report card findings. The CRC thus is astarting point, to be followed by furtheraction through organised advocacy efforts,including civic engagements and dialogueswith the relevant public agencies.ConclusionWhen a government on its own improves itsservices and accountability, initiatives such asCRCs may not be necessary. But even underthese ideal conditions, a report card can be aneffective means for civil society groups tomonitor the performance of government andits service providers. Public agencies can, ontheir own, initiate report cards on theirperformance as indeed some in Bangalorehave done. However, when a government isindifferent to these concerns, the report cardapproach can be an aid to civil society groupsthat wish to induce the government toperform better.
Budget watching in CroatiaEnhancing public control of nationalfinancesPRACTICEThe Institute of Public Finance believes that budgets are tooimportant to be left to elected representatives. As taxpayers,citizens should also have a say in the distribution andmanagement of public funds.Katarina Ottkott@ijf.hrDirector, Institute of Public Finance (IPF), Zagreb,CroatiaThe Institute of Public Finance (IPF), anacademic institution based in Zagreb,publishes regular newsletters which itdistributes free of charge to members ofparliament (MPs), parliamentary committees,ministries, agencies, media and NGOs. Thenewsletters are published to coincide with thepassing or revision of budgets, or at keymoments like the introduction of new taxrates, or in the lead up to elections or achange in government. The primary objectiveis to provide a professional and independentanalysis of budget issues in order to facilitateinformed discussions.Attracting attentionThe first newsletter (January 1999) explainedwhy budget debates are so important andoutlined the kinds of questions that MPs andmembers of the public should ask. It analysedin detail government revenue andexpenditures, highlighting the fact that publicspending was continually on the rise and thatthe tax burden was borne by the generalpublic (consumption taxes accounted for over70% of total income). IPF called on thegovernment to provide clear informationabout the size and state of the economy andprecise statistics about the external andinternal debt, among many other pressingissues.Right from the outset the newsletters werereceived enthusiastically by the public. Mediacoverage of the first newsletter wasunprecedented. In the period 1999–2007, theInstitute published 27 newsletters, and therewas a widespread expectation that IPF wouldprovide a response to emerging financialissues even when the organisation was notable to do so.SuccessIPF has established itself as a non-partisanand trustworthy stakeholder, and animportant player in national economicdebates. As a domestic source of independentcomments and recommendations, IPF isconvinced that it has contributed to changesin the Croatian budget process. Grossdomestic product estimates have becomemore relevant and internationally recognised,classifications and consolidations of thebudget have improved, as have data on thepublic debt and on government spending.Nevertheless, a budget watcher’s life is noteasy. Thanks to the legacy of non-democraticregimes, and paternalistic and highlycentralised states in the region, most citizensare not fully aware of their rights,opportunities and obligations. Moreover, it isoften difficult to gain access to financial dataand budget watchers sometimes face openhostility.Steps and MethodologiesIn conclusion, the IPF has drawn up a numberof useful tips for practitioners who want toengage in budget watching:• Insist on clear provisions in relevant lawsthat guarantee permanent access by citizensto financial information as well as on theobligations of local governments to: (i)disseminate budget information; (ii) organiseregular open sessions and special publichearings before adopting key decisions; (iii)publish income and expense statements andbalance sheets; (iv) have a proactive approachto transparency, with information being madeavailable in reports and on websites; (v)allocate sufficient human resources toprocessing information requests; and (vi) dealcourteously with the public.• Be engaged in all stages of the budgetprocess. Communicate, ask questions, andgive concrete suggestions to localgovernments, and expand your workingknowledge and ability to understand andcompare local budgets.• At the budget preparation stage, learn how(local) governments work and local servicesare provided. During the budget executionstage, monitor implementation and ask aboutresults. At the financial reporting stage, makecomments, insist on clarity, and compare theresults with other local units so as to betterunderstand the situation in your communityas well as the country as a whole.• Propose the establishment of a monitoringcommittee with representatives of relevantCroatian MPs -- a target group for theIPF newsletter.ministries, budget users, and citizens (NGOs,local government associations, the media,etc.) and define a working plan.• Try to produce a reader-friendly citizens’budget guide to enable ordinary people,politicians and the media to have a bettergrasp of the basics of the budget and thebudget process.• Finally, to make public finances in yourcommunity more public, join the worldwidecommunity of budget watchers who areworking together with the InternationalBudget Project, which could enable youto share your experiences and learn fromothers.
Public expenditure tracking in TanzaniaSupporting communities to speak outPRACTICEHow does a population renowned for its tolerance andacceptance of authority learn to demand accountability fromits leaders? Can autocratic leaders redefine themselves aspublic servants? An interesting social experiment isunderway in Tanzania.The efficient delivery of public services isan important factor in poverty reduction.However, in Tanzania, a history of economiccentralisation and a concentration of politicalpower in the hands of a one-party governmenthave helped to entrench a culture ofacceptance and powerlessness at the locallevel.A public expenditure tracking initiativeknown as Fuatilia Pesa (‘Follow the money’)provides a practical mechanism to help reversethis situation. The programme aims to supportthe implementation of the ongoing LocalGovernment Reform Programme, whichoversees the devolution of decision-making toregional and district levels.The Fuatilia Pesa programme is developingthe capacity of Tanzanian civil societyorganisations (CSOs) that empowercommunities to enforce their right toinformation and to use it to demand greateraccountability. Three national organisationsare involved in implementing the programme:Research on Poverty Alleviation (REPOA),Hakikazi Catalyst, and the Tanzania GenderNetworking Programme (TGNP). Theprogramme is coordinated by the PolicyForum, a coalition of CSOs that is working tostrengthen NGO involvement in policyprocesses, including local governance. Theprogramme has developed a training manualon approaches to accessing information,monitoring local government budgets andtracking public expenditures.In 2006, more than 700 representatives ofcivil society organisations, district officials,elected councillors and journalists completedthe action-oriented training courses organisedunder the auspices of the Fuatilia Pesaprogramme.Feedback on exactly how many civil societyorganisations are using the training theyacquired to stimulate communities to trackpublic expenditures and lobby for governmentaccountability at the district level is so farmostly anecdotal. It is estimated that 25–30leading NGOs are currently implementing thetracking model in approximately 40 districts.The Policy Forum will undertake an evaluationof the first phase before the end of 2007.Achieving broader changeThe Fuatilia Pesa programme aims to holdpublic officials accountable through acollaborative rather than confrontationalapproach. By engaging all levels of the localgovernment hierarchy in a constructivedialogue, the programme hopes to bring abouta gradual change in the prevailing norms onpublic accountability.However, the reluctance of localgovernments to provide access to informationremains a key hindrance. As the initiator ofthe Local Government Reform Programme,the central government has endorsed the roleof the Fuatilia Pesa initiative in contributingto improved governance. Nevertheless, a lotstill needs to be done to demonstrate thepositive results that can be achieved locally,and the resulting benefits for everyoneinvolved.The training workshops for district officialsand NGOs stress the importance of accessible,transparent and timely information. In theinitial stages this information is likely toremain available in nationally aggregatedforms, which reduces its usefulness at thecommunity level. Ultimately, the newlyintroduced local government informationsystems will provide detailed district budgetsfor, and disbursements to, individualcommunities and development activities.The next stage of the Fuatilia Pesaprogramme has already begun. It entails thedevelopment of a national network to shareexperiences and information in the area ofpublic expenditure tracking and monitoringof service delivery. The network will soon becoordinated by the Policy Forum. It is stillearly days, but the first steps have been takentowards the creation of a more open societyin which citizens realise that ‘Yes, we can askquestions’.
African institutions for public accountabilityThe strength of partnershipsPRACTICEAfricans are not recognised for the work they do to promotesocial accountability in their countries. A new pan-Africanplatform allows them to share their experiences, learn newtechniques and disseminate information, and encouragesnew initiatives.Craig A. Schwabecaschwabe@hsrc.ac.zaDirector of the Geographic Information SystemsCentre, Human Science Research Council,South AfricaWeak democratic processes in manyAfrican countries have contributed tolow public expectations and a culture ofimpunity. Civil society has started to holdgovernments accountable for failing to delivereven the most basic services.The World Bank and the Human ScienceResearch Council (HSRC) of South Africawanted to build on existing initiatives,accelerate their growth and encourage newdevelopments in social accountability. To thisend, they launched the Affiliated Network forSocial Accountability in Africa (ANSA-Africa)in August 2006. ANSA–Africa has begunnetworking with concerned partners acrossAfrica to develop a wide-ranging programmethat involves community-based organisations,NGOs, advocacy groups and individuals. Theprimary medium for sharing relevantinformation is the web portal ansa-africa.net,which links civil society and communitygroups across the continent to support andencourage new initiatives.The methodologyThe programme includes capacity buildingcourses, seminars, workshops and discussiongroups, as well as advocacy campaigns toinform Africans of their rights andresponsibilities as citizens. Through itsnetwork, ANSA-Africa works in three mainways.• Providing technical and leveraged financialassistance for the design, implementation andevaluation of quality social accountabilityinitiatives. Through collaboration, the networktransmits effective tools and incubatesinnovative new approaches.• Promoting capacity development throughtraining programmes to encourage the use andadaptation of techniques for citizens to demandaccountable governance. These programmes aredelivered regionally to generate the greatestimpact. ANSA, through its partners, designs anddelivers training programmes across Africa.• Undertaking research and disseminating thefindings. The goal is to apply creativity andrigor to assessing, refining and developingsocial accountability tools and to useelectronic media in innovative ways in orderto promote wide access to knowledge.The primary target audience is the civilsociety groups that are active with policymonitoring processes. However, ANSA-Africahopes that eventually the businesscommunity, NGOs, ratepayers’ associationsand other concerned individuals will also beinfluenced by the network’s activities.Examples of recent initiatives include:• The Municipal Development Partnership forEastern and Southern Africa (MDP-ESA) hasdeveloped a web-based course and a trainingcompanion in participatory budgeting Africawith the support of the World Bank and UNHabitat, respectively. The course describes theprocess necessary for effective monitoringand community advocacy work.• The City of Johannesburg has incorporatedparticipatory budgeting processes in its legalframework for several years now. A typicalcampaign takes three months and includes anextensive publicity campaign, needsassessment, and analysis of various projectproposals, including their priority within thecommunity and cost. The participatorybudgeting process has resulted, for instance,in the provision of free water and electricityfor low-income earners. It has also increasedpublic support for paying tariffs, reducedvandalism of council property, and enhancedrevenue generation and collection.Future plansThe documentation of these and many othercase studies is a key feature of the ANSA-Africa web portal. The intention is to ‘pull’information from as many sources aspossible and disseminate it to ANSApartners, government officials, politiciansand stakeholder organisations. ANSA-Africaplans to distribute such information in moredynamic formats, such as editorial features,advocacy campaigns, newsletters, policy andbudget briefs, radio and televisionprogrammes, and seminars and workshops. Itis critical that findings and reports aredisseminated to government and citizensalike, to emphasise their partnership.Training programmes will focus onmethodological aspects of socialaccountability, in formats that can be adaptedto different languages, cultures and literacylevels. New approaches to socialaccountability emphasise the importance ofworking with government agencies in thepublic expenditure cycle: budget formulation,execution, accounting and reporting, andexternal audit and oversight. This will be animportant focus for capacity building.Social accountability stakeholders will playan active role in defining ANSA-Africa’sscope and activities. The strength ofpartnerships across the continent – amongdifferent organisations, community bodiesand government entities, across differentlanguages, cultures, and national and regionalbarriers – will be the ultimate determinant ofANSA-Africa’s success.
eSourcesPUBLICATIONSThis section offers a selection of publications related to capacity development. A more extensive list can be found at www.capacity.org.2006 Global Accountability Report:Holding Power to AccountM. Blagescu and R. Lloyd, OneWorld Trust, 2006This report assesses 30 of theworld’s most powerful organisationsfrom across the inter-governmental,non-governmental and corporatesectors. It highlights good practiceprinciples in four elements ofaccountability: transparency,participation, evaluation, andcomplaint and response. This is thefirst initiative to measure andcompare the accountability oftransnational actors.ISBN 0950443484www.oneworldtrust.orgTrust in Public Finance: Citizens viewson Taxation by Local Authorities inTanzaniaO.-H. Fjeldstad, Project Brief 12,Chr. Michelsen Institute, 2004Part of the problem of raisinglocal government revenues inTanzania is public resistance topaying service fees and charges,and widespread tax evasion. Thisreport shows that the rate ofpayment is affected by factorssuch as citizens’ perceptions ofthe trustworthiness of thegovernment and service providers.www.repoa.or.tz/publicationsResponding to Change: Learning toAdapt in Development CooperationP. Engel, N. Keijzer and C.Ørnemark, ECDPM PolicyManagement Brief 19, 2007This paper focuses on key issuesrelating to learning and adaptingin development organisations. Itrefers to an online discussion onthe relation betweenaccountability and learning thattook place in the Pelican Initiative,a network of people interested inevidence-based learning andcommunication for development.www.ecdpm.org/pmb19A Taste of Success: Analyzing andAffecting Policy, Fundar, MexicoInternational Budget Project, 2000This case study provides aninteresting example of howbudget work can affect policyand how a budget organisationcan develop in response to aparticularly compelling problemthat people mobilise around – inthis case money in a ‘secret fund’that the President could usewithout any accountability.www.internationalbudget.orgPromoting Mutual Accountability inAid RelationshipsS. Mulley and P. de Renzio, ODIBriefing Paper 1, 2006This paper addresses thedefinition of mutual accountabilityand its key challenges. It reviewsexisting mechanisms to promotemutual accountability at countrylevel (in Tanzania, Mozambique,Vietnam and Afghanistan) and atinternational level. It includesrecommendations for donors andrecipients.www.odi.org.ukChildren’s Feedback Committees inZimbabwe: An Experiment inHumanitarian AccountabilityC. McIvor and K. Myllenen, Savethe Children (UK), Harare, 2005This publication chronicles theattempt by Save the Children (UK)to set up an accountability projectwithin the agency’s food aidintervention in Zimbabwe. A keyintention was to set up amechanism that specificallyincluded children in the process ofcreating better accountabilitytowards communities.ISBN 0-7974-2933-6www.sarpn.org.zaA Guide to Budget Work for NGOsInternational Budget Project,Washington, DC, 2001This guide offers a systematicoverview of the activities andapproaches a non-governmentalorganisation might want toundertake in its initial years ofbudget advocacy work. Theguide is available online and inprint, and is intended for groupsor individuals that are relativelynew to the field. It contains usefulresources, and examples of bestpractices.www.internationalbudget.orgMilitants and Citizens: The Politics ofParticipatory Democracy in Porto AlegreG. Baiocchi, Stanford UniversityPress, 2005In Porto Alegre, Brazil, thousandsof ordinary citizens participate inlocal governance, making bindingdecisions on urban policy on adaily basis. While there has beenimmense attention paid to thepractice of participatorydemocracy in Porto Alegre, this isthe first book to examine thepolitics, culture, and day-to-dayactivities of its citizens.ISBN 0804751234Democratic Accountability in LatinAmericaS. Mainwaring and C. Welna(eds), Oxford Scholarship Online,2003This book seeks to furtherunderstanding on the web ofinstitutions that form themechanisms of accountability, theinteraction between theseinstitutions, and interactionbetween electoral accountability,intrastate accountability, andsocietal oversight.ISBN 0199256373www.oxfordscholarship.comA Comparison of the Budget Processin France and Francophone AfricanCountriesB.I. Abdourhamane and I.Crouzel, edited by M. Claassens,Idasa, 2004The publication, available inEnglish and French, traces theinfluence and the continueddominance of the French publicfinance model in francophoneAfrican legislative and publicfinance systems. A summary of thepublication can be found at:www.idasa.org.zaUser Committees: A PotentiallyDamaging Second Wave ofDecentralizationJ. Manor, European Journal ofDevelopment Research, 16(1),2004User committees haveproliferated in less-developedcountries. They are intended togive ordinary people theopportunity to influencedevelopment programmes andprojects. In some cases, theyhave had a positive impact.However, this article argues thatthey may be having a damagingeffect on decentralisation andparticipation.Social Accountability Sourcebook:Strengthening the Demand Side ofGovernance and Service DeliveryWorld BankThis online guide provides ananalytical framework of socialaccountability, and an overview ofthe main concepts and definitions;tools and methods that are mostfrequently used as part of socialaccountability approaches such asparticipatory budgeting, citizen’sreport cards and social audits;case examples in different regions;sector and thematic applications;and resources.http://www-esd.worldbank.org/sacAccountability in Health Services:Transforming Relationships andContextsG. Asha, Working Paper Series13, no.1, Harvard Centre forPopulation and DevelopmentStudies, 2003This paper argues thataccountability mechanisms maynot always respond to the needsof marginalised groups in societyand that attention needs to bepaid to the social and institutionalcontext in which they are placed.To be successful, accountabilitymechanisms need to emphasisebuilding broad and democraticconstituencies to support socialchange.www.globalhealth.harvard.eduThe PIU Dilemma: How to AddressProject Implementation UnitsUNDP Practice Note, 2003Project implementation units raisefundamental issues related tonational ownership and capacitydevelopment. This noterecommends a range of alternativemanagement methods thatincorporate capacity development,such as sector-wide approaches,gap filling, i.e. the integration ofexternal expertise into linefunctions,salary enhancement andincreased access to information onpublic expenditures.www.undp.orgwww.capacity.org 15
The need for analytical and adaptive capacitiesguest columnRethinking capacity buildingCapacity.org, issue 31, August 2007Capacity.org is published quarterly in English,French and Spanish with an accompanyingweb magazine (www.capacity.org) and emailnewsletter. Each issue focuses on a specifictheme relevant to capacity development ininternational cooperation, with articles,interviews and a guest column, and annotatedlinks to related web resources, publicationsand events.Editor-in-Chief: Heinz Greijn,firstname.lastname@example.orgAlnoor EbrahimAlnoor_Ebrahim@harvard.eduVisiting Associate Professor at the John F. KennedySchool of Government and Wyss Visiting Scholarat the Harvard Business SchoolCapacity building projects are often seen asa means of providing NGOs with the toolsthey need to effectively deliver programmes orservices, and of ensuring the ability ofrecipients to demonstrate accountability for thefinancial aid received. However, insights fromover fifty years of experience suggest thatconventional types of capacity building haveoften failed to bring about improvements inorganisational effectiveness, performance, andaccountability.This failure has several causes. First, theproviders of capacity building oftenmisunderstand the capacity needs of theirgrantees. Donors need to take responsibility forenhancing their own understandings of thecapacity shortfalls and strengths of theirgrantees. The expectations of short-term results,frequently associated with logical frameworksand results-based management matrices, canoften be at odds with actual grantee needs.Second, capacity building efforts tend to focuson ‘technical’ capacities in NGOs, such asfinancial management, strategic planning, andindicator development. These technical skills donot strengthen an organisation’s analyticalcapacity – that is the organisation’s ability to stepback and critically review its work and thechanging environment in which it functions. Nordoes traditional capacity building strengthen anNGO’s adaptive capacity – its ability to changebehaviour as a result of that learning andreflection.Strengthening an organisation’s ability toanalyse and adapt requires different types ofassistance than has traditionally been offered toNGOs. Capacity building needs to be seen as ameans of encouraging learning. Thus, effectivecapacity building often requires a revisiting of anorganisation’s aspirations and strategy, as well asits standard operating procedures; simple trainingprogrammes can achieve little on their own.One implication for donors is that they needto look at capacity building projects in thelong-term. This requires a shift towards anexpectation of results over years rather thanquarterly or annual budget cycles.Furthermore, capacity building projects needto combine consulting, coaching, training andpeer exchanges which are appropriate to theneeds of the organisation. The plans andtraining processes should be locally designedand managed in order to make themappropriate to the needs of the field staff. Forinstance, a practical approach may be todevelop simpler reporting systems (rather thanthose with complex sets of indicators) that arecongruent with existing resources and whichcan be built up if resources increase.Another implication is that donors need toaccept some responsibility for failure andambiguity in capacity building. Non-profitorganisations that lack analytical andadaptive capacities cannot be expected toidentify their own capacity needs. They thusrequire the support of donors or capacitybuilders who can help them think throughtheir priorities, assets, and needs.For NGOs, the greatest challenges lie inunderstanding the fact that capacity buildingis not just a ‘quick fix’ to satisfy donors.Building analytical and adaptive capacityrequires organisational commitment to painfulself-scrutiny. One way that this can beachieved is by insisting on working withconsultants who are willing to serve ascoaches during various stages of strategicthinking and project implementation (ratherthan simply using consultants who helpdesign new strategic plans or informationsystems but then disappear duringimplementation). It requires that NGOs takethe time and risk to educate their donors as totheir capacity needs so as to build long-termrelationships of mutual understanding.The broader challenge for NGOs andfunders alike lies in working towards buildinganalytical and adaptive capacities across thesector as a whole, rather than only inatomised organisations. If the long-term goalis to influence social policy andimplementation – on health and humanservices, on poverty, on environmentalmanagement, on fiscal and economicregulation – then it will also be necessary tobuild capacities for sector-widecommunication, analysis and adaptation.