The Learning Lab aimed to interrogate one key question – “How does context affect social accountability outcomes?” through a range of panel discussions, field visits, keynote speakers, informal learning discussions, and participant networking. The Learning Lab was attended by social accountability practitioners, researchers and donors from over 15 countries from within and outside Africa to collectively discuss the way in which social accountability is practiced in different contexts, and to learn about the challenges and successes of social accountability across the African region. The event, which was held in Manzini, Swaziland, was co-organised by World Vision (WV) and the Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM).

The aim of the Learning Lab was to give participants the opportunity to learn about what social accountability interventions work and not work; where, by who, for who, and under what conditions/circumstances. This was addressed not only through the field visits but also through context specific panels which looked at the way in which social accountability was being practiced across Southern and East Africa by invited practitioners from a range of organisations including Concern Universal Mozambique, PACT Zimbabwe, CSPR Zambia, PATH Uganda, Policy Forum Tanzania, and World Vision East Africa. Learning lab delegates had the opportunity to seriously interrogate their own social accountability approaches and those of others in the pursuit of enhanced, robust and context-calibrated SA initiatives.

The unique Swaziland socio-economic and political landscape allowed participants the opportunity to reflect on their own contexts and all agreed that social accountability initiatives cannot succeed without a clear understanding of the context in which they are being undertaken. It also became clear that there were diverse perspectives of what social accountability is as a result of context, and that many of the participants would be reflecting on their own understandings of key ideas such as the role of different levels of governance in social accountability, the role of the media in social accountability, and the significant importance of sustainability in the social accountability initiatives being undertaken across Africa.

You can find more information, daily blog updates, and photos on the PASA blog https://accountabilitytimes.wordpress.com/ . Participants also shared some of the inputs over Twitter using the hashtag #PASA2016. Attendees were also encouraged to continue conversations using the online the discussion forum available at the Community of Practice for Social Accountability Monitoring website www.copsam.com.

Photo: Participants engaging with each other during the Knowledge Marketplace