Citizen Participation Through Social Accountability | World Bank Institute (WBI)

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Citizen Participation Through Social Accountability


Social accountability is an approach towards building government's responsiveness that relies on civic engagement whereby ordinary citizens and/or civil society organizations participate directly or indirectly in achieving accountability.

WBI’s Approach

The World Bank Institute (WBI) is working with both governments and civil society to promote social accountability. It is helping governments engage with its citizens, make public information available and solicit feedback. It is also supporting civil society networks and coalitions engaged in social accountability and piloting the usage of mobile technologies to facilitate this engagement.

Access to Information: In recent years Access to Information has become increasingly important to citizens in developing countries. For example, in Bangladesh, citizens have used ATI to gain access to land records or to learn about resource-allocation under social development programs to improve their livelihood. WBI supports stakeholders in various countries to effectively adopt, implement and use ATI reforms by facilitating knowledge exchanges, and strengthening networks and communities of practice. WBI is working actively on this in Africa, South Asia, Latin America, and Middle East and North Africa.

Affiliated Networks for Social Accountability (ANSA): WBI is helping create and build the capacity of networks of civil society organizations that monitor governments in areas like service delivery and public accountability. The networks are ANSA Africa, ANSA East Asia and Pacific, ANSA South Asia, ANSA Global which provided support to networks in Latin America and Europe and Central Asia and most recently ANSA Arab World.  

The networks support civil society organizations in their efforts to monitor governments in areas like service delivery and build demand for public accountability by facilitating knowledge exchange on social accountability mechanisms and tools and providing opportunities for capacity building and networking amongst practitioners at the regional level

Voices Against Corruption:  This is a network of emerging leaders fighting corruption around the world. The network brings together civil society leaders, journalists and musicians, who share approaches, ideas and resources such as ICT based anti-corruption tools.

Parliamentary Networks: Legislatures, as representative institutions have a constitutional mandate to hold public officials accountable for their actions. Transparency and access to information is a pre-condition for parliaments being able to ensure public resources are used for the public good and power is not abused by corrupt officials. WBI works with parliaments, civil society and the media to achieve transparency and facilitate the flow of information to citizens.

This includes making parliament itself more open, implementing regimes that facilitate public access to information and developing a regulatory environment conducive to a free and independent media. Moreover, WBI works with parliaments in contract monitoring of procurement, an initiative that brings together diverse stakeholders to find common ground and build coalitions to work together in monitoring contracts and making their actions transparent.

IMAGE: WBI’s Media program works with partners and media practitioners to leverage independent media to participate in responsive coverage of the budget process, as well as monitoring, oversight, and performance management. The program is facilitating both south-south and north-south knowledge exchanges by serving as a space for experts and practitioners to share investigative journalism practices and strategies for effective reporting on priority development topics.

Using Mobile Technology: WBI is working with governments, to help them create opportunities for participatory decision-making, and to solicit and respond to citizen feedback, including through mobile technology and new tools such as m-participatory budgeting, m-scorecards and Open311.  

Supporting Government-Society Coalitions: Transparency cannot be achieved by a single section of society. WBI is supporting government-society coalitions to monitor government contracts, including those involving extractive industries, pharmaceuticals, roads and education. These initiatives bring together individuals from the private sector, government, media and civil society.  

Building and Strengthening Networks: WBI is helping create and strengthen networks within a sector as well as bringing together coalitions of actors to help achieve reforms more effectively.