Scaling Social Accountability: Evidence from Asia, Africa and the Caucasus

Social accountability is breaking new ground. Evidence from a 2018 evaluation for a World Bank funded project in Indonesia has demonstrated that social accountability impacts system strengthening, local power dynamics and women’s empowerment. The evaluation of WV’s Citizen Voice and Action (CVA), a strategic package of grassroots activism, evidence-based social accountability approaches and coalition building, found that:

“CVA works by changing power relations. It does so by using structured and transparent processes to organise collective opinion, which is harder to dismiss than individual opinions; by making the criteria for judgements transparent; by increasing the legitimacy of claims on the system; by empowering women; and by bringing different types and levels of decision- makers into the process, such that different forms of authority are available to address different issues.”

“CVA works by strengthening systems. That is, in this case, the boundaries of the health system at local level were expanded to include citizens and local government; component elements of the system were strengthened; relationships were established between various elements of the system; stronger information and resource flows were introduced within the system; and positive feedback loops supported ongoing action to improve system effectiveness.”

The evaluation findings are shared in a new publication by World Vision, which synthesizes evidence from evaluations undertaken by Oxford and Columbia Universities and more than a dozen independent mixed method evaluations across more than 10 countries. World Vision’s evidence of the impact of social accountability is built on 12 years investment in research and application across 48 countries, including 15 designated as fragile contexts/states.

The publication, Scaling Social Accountability: Evidence from Asia, Africa and the Caucasus, is available here and on the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Social Accountability knowledge hub.

It follows significant evidence in a 2016 macro-evaluation commissioned by the UK’s Department for International Development. That review found that there was now “compelling” evidence that social accountability “almost always” impacted service delivery.