Latin American Countries Join the Global Partnership for Social Accountability | World Bank Institute (WBI)

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STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Global Partnership for Social Accountability supports citizens and governments to work together to solve governance problems. The GPSA provides strategic and sustained support to CSOs’ social accountability initiatives aimed at strengthening transparency and accountability.
  • Paraguay is the fourth country in Latin America that has come forward to join the initiative, along with Colombia, Dominican Republic and Honduras. By joining, these governments will facilitate the participation of civil society in initiatives that promote public transparency and fighting corruption.
  • At the global level 18 countries are already part of the initiative.
(c) World Bank, Guatemala

June 27, 2013—“Time: that’s what you have to be ready to waste at the courthouse,” says Guillermo Sanabria, lawyer and recognized Paraguayan tweeter. Guillermo is one of many citizens in Paraguay who has to deal with bureaucracy to access a public service on a daily basis.

He also complains that there is nowhere to formally protest about the delays and bad service. “I don’t know of a place or department where I can file a complaint about this: we grumble all the time, but it's in vain,” Sanabria says.

Thousands of citizens all over the world experience similar situations to those that Sanabria faces day in and day out. Never-ending lines to pay for water or electricity, delays in  emergency care in hospitals, lack of teachers to cover classrooms in rural areas; these are some examples which reflect the enormous challenges faced by governments to deliver efficient public services to their citizens. Increasingly, governments are recognizing the need to engage with citizens in order to increase public transparency and accountability.

This is exactly why the Government of Paraguay sought the support of the Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA). Civil society organizations (CSOs) can play a key role in helping governments to carry out an effective and efficient distribution of the delivery of services, by providing them direct and constructive feedback on public programs. With this objective, the World Bank Group (WBG) has promoted the creation of the GPSA, a mechanism to support citizens and governments in developing countries to work together to solve governance problems.

The GPSA, with its secretariat at the World Bank Institute (WBI), is a coalition of civil society organizations, governments and donors which aims to give CSOs access to finance, knowledge and technical assistance so they can work on social accountability initiatives geared to improving the quality of delivery of public services.

In Latin America four countries have already joined the GPSA: Dominican Republic, Colombia, Honduras and recently Paraguay.  The adhesion to the program begins with the political will of governments to facilitate the participation of civil society initiatives to promote greater public transparency and contribute to fighting corruption. At the global level, 18 countries are already part of the initiative.

Social monitoring
 
“If an education minister could receive feedback from parents directly when a teacher is late or misses school altogether, the minister at the central level would have the information to make better decisions and take corrective measures in a timely fashion to benefit those students,” says Roby Senderowitsch, Program Manager of the GPSA. He continues that the GPSA helps foster an alliance between the public sector and civil society so that the latter can help the government monitor the efficiency of public service delivery.

After governments express their interest in joining the initiative, the GPSA begins in each country by organizing a broad consultation with civil society to determine the urgent issues in the national or local development agenda. Once these priorities are established, CSOs are asked to submit their proposals for social accountability initiatives which should be in line with the previously identified needs.  For example, countries such as Malawi and the Philippines have chosen the monitoring of public procurement in the education sector and of the conditional cash transfer program, respectively.
open-quotesI don’t know of a place or department where I can file a complaint about this: we grumble all the time, but it's in vain.close-quotesGuillermo Sanabria, lawyer and recognized Paraguayan tweeter
These proposals are then analyzed by a Steering Committee on which governments, civil society and donors are represented. The GPSA, which was launched globally a year ago, issued its first Call for Proposals in its partner countries in March, 2013.  For this first round, a total of 216 proposals from 12 different countries were submitted, and the final decision of which projects will receive funding will be announced in early July.

The next round will take place in October 2013 and the recent addition of Paraguay will enable its civil society organizations to compete at a global level for financing of up to $1M per project. CSOs will have 3 to 5 years to set up and implement their projects. Through workshops and an online knowledge exchange portal, they will also receive capacity building support and technical knowledge to maximize the effect of their projects.

“This partnership establishes a platform for cooperation towards a common goal, for governments to deliver more efficient public services to its citizens,” Senderowitsch says. He underscores that an important quality of the GPSA is its approach to solve real problems faced by citizens so they can have efficient public services, combined with the commitment taken by governments to use such information to address a specific problem.

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