The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) international development projects worldwide on behalf of the Government of Switzerland. Social Accountability is supported through governance core programs and cross-cuttingly in other sectors. See more here.
The GPSA asked Annonciata Ndikumasabo, Senior Regional Governance Adviser for the Eastern, Southern, Northern Africa and Palestine Division, about her views on social accountability.
How would you define Social Accountability and why is it important?
For me, Social Accountability (SocAcc) is an approach that towards building accountability which relies on civic engagement. Citizens and/or Civil society organizations participate directly or indirectly in exacting accountability. Research shows that mechanisms of social accountability can be initiated and supported by the state, citizens or both, but very often they are driven by bottom-up demand.
What are the main lessons you have drawn by supporting social accountability projects?
I would like to share a few main lessons. SocAcc works better if addressed in a systemic approach – stand alone and cross-cutting approaches are very complementary. To be effective, SocAcc actions should be issue-driven to keep focused and context-tailored. Third, a comprehensive approach, including legal framework, is needed. Confronting state institutions with facts is necessary but confrontational approaches do not really work out well. Lastly, bridging the work between media, civil society organizations and parliamentary committees is crucial to generate results. Focusing on civil society organization alone with little work with the decision-making bodies generates very limited results.
As far as the media goes, I have learned that the media has a double role. The media serves as direct actors of Social Accountability. Thanks to professional journalistic investigations, several big corruption cases and other non-transparent practices can be revealed leading to accountability processes. Additionally, the media serves as vectors of SocAcc, allowing platforms for accountability to take place. For example, there is space on radio programs which invite representatives of the governments to directly answer questions from citizens.